Fantasy Baseball: Giancarlo Stanton trade makes everyone in the Yankees lineup better
With Saturday's trade, Giancarlo Stanton teams up with Aaron Judge to make the Yankees' already stout offense something extraordinary. Scott White considers all the Fantasy implications.
It's ... it's beautiful.
A sight to behold, in terms of baseball architecture, and something few would have dared to dream up even just 48 hours ago.
I'm talking Giancarlo Stanton, transcendent power hitter renowned not just for his home run totals but for how impossibly hard he hits the ball, and Aaron Judge, his first true challenger for best-slugger-in-baseball honors ... in the same lineup.
Obviously, good hitters have teamed up in the past, but pairing these specific two -- the only two to hit 50-plus homers last season, resulting in an MVP in one league and runner-up honors in another -- makes for a lineup so formidable that you wonder why the rest of the AL East even bothers to try.
One overlooked aspect of Stanton's MVP season is that it wasn't just an offshoot of him staying healthy for 150 games for the first time in six years, though that certainly helped. No, he wouldn't have beat out Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon for NL MVP if he hadn't taken steps to become a more complete hitter, trimming his strikeout rate down to something less than terrible with the help of a closed batting stance.
So he's not just some three-true-outcomes player transplanted from one silo to another. No, the No. 2 lineup in baseball last season has a new best hitter.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
The impact for his new Yankees teammates is considerable. Inserting another on-base and base-clearing threat into the rest of the lineup ups the RBI and run-scoring chances for everybody else, most notably Judge, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius. Brett Gardner should easily eclipse 100 runs, if he stays healthy, and Greg Bird couldn't ask for a gentler introduction to a full-time role. Records will be set. Kings will be crowned. Our lives will never be the same.
Brett Gardner New York Yankees LF
Aaron Judge New York Yankees RF
Giancarlo Stanton Miami Marlins RF
Gary Sanchez New York Yankees C
Didi Gregorius New York Yankees SS
Greg Bird New York Yankees 1B
Gleyber Torres New York Yankees SS
Chase Headley New York Yankees 3B
Aaron Hicks New York Yankees CF
The starting rotation, of course, also benefits. Those who pitch deep into games -- namely Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray -- will turn over even bigger leads to the bullpen (which, it's worth noting, consists of five closer caliber relievers in Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, David Robertson, Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle). Chasing wins generally isn't a wise practice in Fantasy Baseball, but this starting trio couldn't be in a better spot for them (perhaps Jordan Montgomery, too, depending how much the Yankees extend him in Year 2).
And then there's the effect on Stanton himself, a player whose home runs are so prodigious that we presume he's immune to park factors. And for the most part, that's true, but when the move is from the sixth-worst home run park in all the majors to the second-best, the impact is going to be greater than zero.
Here's how one notable prognosticator sees it:
Shoot, seeing as Stanton just hit 59 home runs, I don't know that 70 is out of the question.
It's enough for me to move him up a spot in my outfield rankings, which is no small move when it involves players in the first-round range. I didn't feel great about having Mookie Betts ahead of him in the first place. As for the other Yankees hitters, I was already bullish on Sanchez (my No. 1 catcher) and Gregorius and had recently moved Judge ahead of George Springer and Cody Bellinger. I don't see any more wiggle room for those players, but you can bet I'm drafting them with even greater conviction now.
Of course, the Stanton trade isn't all good news. He leaves behind a lineup that emerged as one of the NL's best with him in the middle last year. But Dee Gordon is already gone, traded to the Mariners earlier this week, and Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich are expected to follow. Justin Bour may find himself carrying more of the load than a player of his stature should, which could be enough to drop him out of the top 20 at a crowded first base.
Meanwhile, outfielder Clint Frazier, also known for hitting the ball hard, has an even steeper climb to the majors now and is basically out of the mixed-league discussion on Draft Day. But on the other hand, Starlin Castro's departure gives Gleyber Torres a clear path to the majors as soon as he's recovered from Tommy John surgery, which may well be opening day. The hope previously was that he'd eventually overtake Chase Headley at third base to give the Yankees another homegrown middle-of-the-order hitter alongside Judge and Sanchez. Seeing as he's shortstop-eligible, he'll be worth drafting despite the questionable timetable, so even the prospect shuffle is a net win for Fantasy owners.
But the biggest winner with this move is, of course, the Yankees, who I have hard time believing won't enter 2018 as the World Series favorites. They already had the best bullpen and an enviable starting three of Severino, Tanaka and Gray. Now, they probably have the best lineup as well.
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