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Giancarlo Stanton has been an absolute cypher at the plate, and there is seemingly no end to the ways we can demonstrate this. Over the last 30 days, of all players with at least 80 plate appearances, Stanton has the lowest wOBA, batting average, slugging percentage and total of runs scored, and his strikeout rate is more than six percentage points higher than the second-worst mark (owned by Kirk Nieuwenhuis). In fact, Stanton's combination of three runs and five RBI is the lowest such combination among this group. Among outfielders during that stretch, he has the 18th-lowest Isolated Power.
Though Stanton is still universally owned, he is benched in 20 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com. You can't blame any Fantasy owner for wanting to put a stop to the bleeding, and already, 20 percent of his owners in CBSSports.com leagues have benched him. I, too, am at the point where I would bench Stanton, yet I still have him ranked as the No. 4 outfielder in Fantasy. He'd be far lower if we did weekly rankings, but I still expect Stanton to be an elite producer over the remainder of the season. I have faith he will start making contact again; I just don't have faith it will happen this week.
I previously had Stanton ranked third among outfielders, but I moved him behind Jose Bautista. So, yes, if someone offered me Bautista for Stanton, I'd take it. Bautista himself is not on his usual home run pace, having hit 12 homers in 62 games, but he is certainly capable of better. Meanwhile, Bautista continues to post good strikeout and walk rates, and he is well on his way to a third straight season with more than 100 RBI and 100 runs. Ultimately, Stanton could hit for a higher average with more home runs over the rest of the season, but Bautista is likely to be a monster run producer, and there are no signs that his production is about to fall off a cliff.
But who else, aside from Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, would it make sense to trade Stanton for? Not Andrew McCutchen, who is in the midst of his own epic slump. Not George Springer, who has a .193 Isolated Power since the beginning of last season. Not Chris Davis, whose ceiling rivals Stanton's but has a low floor, as we saw in 2014.
That leaves Mookie Betts, who is currently the top-ranked outfielder in Fantasy value, and Kris Bryant, who is not only a top-six outfielder but offers the bonus of third base eligibility. Betts is proving to be a speed/power threat who has driven in an astounding 47 runs hitting out of the Red Sox's leadoff spot. Batting atop the majors' most potent offense has helped Betts to score 58 runs in 62 games.
The Cubs haven't been quite as prolific as the Red Sox at scoring runs, but as the No. 3 hitter in a potent lineup, Bryant may have even greater run-producing potential than Betts. Bryant lacks Betts' upside as a base-stealer, but he profiles as a much better home run hitter with higher flyball, pull and hard contact rates as well as a slightly higher average flyball distance (293 feet compared to 288 feet for Betts, according to BaseballHeatMaps.com).
So why haven't I moved Betts and Bryant ahead of Stanton in my rankings? This may be as good as it gets for both young stars in 2016. Betts has managed to drive in so many runs by hitting .365 with runners in scoring position. No matter how clutch he may be, it's going to be hard for Betts to maintain that level of production. Betts has also started to show more power to all fields, but there is still reason to be skeptical of his current home run pace. According to ESPN's Home Run Tracker, 10 of Betts' 14 homers had "just enough" distance and height to clear the fence.
Bryant not only has better power-hitting credentials than Betts, but he has made strides in his strikeout rate this season. Still, it's harder to imagine Bryant hitting 25-30 home runs the rest of the way than it is to imagine Stanton doing it. It also feels premature to put faith in Bryant's ability to strike out in fewer than one of every four plate appearances. Already, his strikeout rate has seen some slippage over the past three weeks. Over his past 19 games, Bryant has struck out 25 times in 81 plate appearances, relying on a .366 BABIP to maintain a .292 batting average over that stretch.
It's entirely conceivable that Stanton has a season similar to Davis' 2014, when the Orioles' slugger finished with a .196 batting average and 26 home runs in 127 games. Showing good home run power was not enough to make Davis valuable in Fantasy two seasons ago, and the same would hold true for Stanton this year. However, he is only five weeks removed from a .975 OPS, and that seems as likely of a rest-of-season outcome as a repeat of Chris Davis circa 2014. I'm still not quite ready to trade that possibility for less than four months of Kris Bryant or Mookie Betts.