When Giancarlo Stanton pummeled a 425-foot home run during Wednesday’s win against the Tigers, the Yankees slugger quietly achieved MLB history.
The solo shot was the 20th home run of the year for Stanton, making him the only player to reach that milestone in 12 different seasons since 2010. He broke a tie with Nelson Cruz, who had done so 11 times over that stretch.
The lack of attention around Stanton’s fourth-inning blast was perhaps fitting, considering his prolific power numbers and consistency have frequently been overshadowed by his massive contract and rash of injuries in recent years.
Wednesday’s home run was the 398th of Stanton’s career. Only 57 players have hit 400 home runs. Still just 33 years old, Stanton is on pace to eventually join the 500 home run club, which was long considered an automatic admission into the Hall of Fame.
Of the 28 players to hit 500 homers, 19 are Hall of Famers. Two others — Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera — appear poised to follow suit once they become eligible. The other seven, which include Alex Rodriguez and all-time home run king Barry Bonds, were each linked to performance-enhancing drugs.
Assuming Stanton clears the 400 mark over the 2023 season’s final month, he would need to average around — or perhaps a bit below — 25 home runs annually over the next four years to reach 500 before his contract with the Yankees ends.
He has hit at least 25 home runs nine times in his career and has a good chance of doing so again in 2023. Stanton is on a hot-streak right now, entering Thursday slashing .333/.357/.630 with two home runs, two doubles, 6 RBI and three runs scored over his last six games.
“I’m going back and forth, some good at-bats, some bad at-bats, but I’m making good contact when I do,” Stanton told the YES Network after Wednesday’s game. “Just got to continue it.”
Of course, injuries could challenge Stanton’s pursuit. Bicep, MCL, quad, hamstring, calf and Achilles ailments have cost Stanton more than 200 games during his Yankees tenure, which began in 2018.
Still, Stanton often manages to put up gaudy home run totals despite missing time. Last year, Stanton slugged 31 homers in 110 games. He hit 27 homers in 74 games with the Marlins in 2015.
Stanton is one of only seven players to hit 59 home runs in a season, a feat he achieved in 2017, his final year with Miami before being traded to the Yankees.
His 131 home runs with the Yankees rank 37th in the team’s 121-year history. Hitting at least 92 over the next four seasons would put Stanton 12th in team history, ahead of household names including Don Mattingly, Roger Maris and Bill Dickey.
Stanton’s historic statistics tend to fly under the radar, with fans frequently focusing on him as a poster child for the Yankees’ roster construction issues. Stanton is regularly relegated to the Yankees’ designated hitter role in an attempt to keep him healthy, and he’s become something of an all-or-nothing hitter, batting .211 last season and .206 this year.
His power prowess is often eclipsed by that of teammate Aaron Judge, who hit an American League-record 62 home runs last season and is one away from 250 for his career.
But Stanton’s career totals already have him in rare company — and they’re only getting better.