Never mind the 16 home runs. Or the 51 RBI. Or even the .317 batting average. If you ask Giancarlo Stanton which number he's proudest of, he'll tell you it's 54. That's the number of games that Stanton has appeared in this season, and it exactly matches the number of games the Marlins have played so far. In other words, a healthy Stanton has resulted in a highly productive one.
"I'll take the games (played)," Stanton answered when given a choice to pick out the one number on his 2014 resume that matters most to him.
His 2013 season was a major disappointment for Stanton because he spent six weeks on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, and because the Marlins were so abysmal they lost 100 games and finished in last for a third straight year.
But Stanton is firing all cylinders this season and the Marlins are winning. If the season ended today, Stanton would have to be considered a contender for N.L. MVP, and it wouldn't be a great stretch to include him in the Triple Crown conversation. He leads the league in home runs (by two over Troy Tulowitzki), RBI (by 11 over Yasiel Puig) and ranks eighth in batting average. Tulowitzki's .360 average leads the pack.
With his two-run homer on Friday off Braves ace Julio Teheran, Stanton became the fastest player in Marlins history to reach 50 RBI, breaking Lowell's 2001 mark. It took Lowell 57 games to get to 50.
"Whatever," Stanton said, shrugging off his impressive personal statistics. "It's two months. Have a milestone at the end of the year, not a (third) into it."
Henderson Alvarez is all systems go for Tuesday's start after throwing a bullpen session Saturday with no arm issues. Alvarez left his most recent start with a stiff right elbow, but has maintained all along it was a precautionary move and nothing more serious than that.
Reliever Carter Capps will see Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday to receive a second opinion on his arm injury. Capps has a right elbow sprain, and the Marlins are keeping their fingers crossed he'll require only rest, perhaps as little as a month, before he can return to the mound. But that all hinges on what Andrews sees when he examines the pitcher.
Just because top draft prospect Carlos Rodon is Cuban-American doesn't mean the Marlins are any higher on the North Carolina State southpaw than they would be otherwise Nor has Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria given the order to draft Rodon (if the Houston Astros don't draft him first) just for that reason, according to a source in squashing a published report to the contrary.
The Marlins have the second overall pick in Thursday's draft, and they have narrowed their focus to a handful of players, including Rodon, California high school pitcher Brady Aiken and California high school catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson. Texas high school pitching phenom Tyler Kolek could also be on their radar.
The Marlins have four of the top 43 picks in the draft.