Racked by injuries, Giancarlo Stanton’s 2019 season was limited to 18 games. Is it time to wonder if his NFL tight end body is misplaced in baseball…
Giancarlo Stanton is listed in Baseball-Reference as being 6’6″ tall and weighing 245 lbs. Rob Gronkowski, the All-Pro tight end from the New England Patriots, is listed by Pro-Football-Reference as being 6’6″ tall and weighing 268 lbs.
Gronkowski made 100 starts over his nine seasons in the NFL. He was on the Injured List four times, missing a total of 24 games before he retired at the age of 29 following the 2018 season.
Stanton versus Gronkowski Injuries
The list of injuries Gronkowski incurred is shown below, many of which can be said are typical in a collision-based sport.
The inference being if you play football, expect injuries, some of which are serious and even life-threatening – if not now, then later in life.
Ankle Injuries: 1
Hamstring Injuries: 2
Hip Injuries: 1
Knee Injuries: 2 (Torn ACL, Bruise)
Broken Bones: 2
Baseball, in contrast, is a simple, non-violent game that generates specific rules banning collisions at home plate and second base during double-play action.
Where then does Giancarlo Stanton’s long list of injuries stem from?
Stanton’s injuries last season included a torn left biceps, a left shoulder strain, a sprained right knee and a strained quad that plagued him in the playoffs.
In prior years, it was a knee injury and then an abdomen strain that sucked 39 games from his 2012 season. In 2013, it was a shoulder, thigh, and ankle injuries that cost him 46 games.
Is Giancarlo Stanton Too Big For Baseball
Is it as simple as saying Giancarlo Stanton is playing a sport with a skill set not suited to his body? Is he, in other words, too big for the game?
It’s a serious question facing not only Stanton but the Yankees as well. Stanton will play the 2020 season at age 30 with a contract extending to when he is 38.
The Yankees are obligated to fork over between $204 million and $234 million before the contract expires in 2028.
The variance is explained by a clause saying the Marlins will pay the Yankees $30 million if Stanton does not opt-out following the 2020 season.
The skill sets of a tight end in football and an outfielder in baseball are similar in one respect. Both sports require quick accelerating starts and severe “cuts” left and right.
Gronkowski’s advantage in football is that he’s working with a designed play. He knows where he’s going and how he’s going to get there, providing an opportunity to pre-program his body.
Whereas Giancarlo Stanton has no idea where or when a ball is going to be hit to him. Break right – break left; he must react in a split second.
The same is true when he is hitting. How can he know, for instance, he is going to have to “stretch” a ball he hits from a single to a double until the play develops.
Hamstrings quad, and the latest injury fad – oblique injuries are made from these unpredictable sequences in baseball.
Science Is Trying To Help, But…
Today’s ballplayers are bigger and stronger. And Giancarlo Stanton is bigger and stronger than nearly all his peers. His muscles, bones, tendons, etc. are therefore outsized compared to most.
More and more, studies like the one published by the League of Fans organization advance the theory that “strength training and nutrition methodologies produce heavily-muscled bodies that are more susceptible to a variety of muscle, tendon and ligament injuries (hamstrings, quads, obliques, etc.)
Furthermore, “a growing number of people believe that today’s players are too “muscle-bound” (i.e., suffering from neuromuscular imbalance), which impairs mechanics, leading to more muscle, joint, bone, tendon and ligament injuries. Their joints can’t handle the torque of their developed muscles.”
Indeed, Giancarlo Stanton is muscle-bound. There is nothing he can do about that. There is little Stanton can do about anything, including his commitment to play baseball until he’s 38-years-old.
In contrast, Rob Gronkowski fulfilled the six-year contract he signed with the Patriots, absorbed his injuries, and took it all home at the age of 30.
Giancarlo Stanton – 30 And Going on 60
Aaron Boone, as recently as yesterday, is quoted by the New York Daily News saying that Giancarlo Stanton will have a “monster” year for the Yankees.
The trouble is Boone made the same claim at this time last year.
If Stanton’s body continues to betray him, there are bound to be some dark days that lay ahead, not only for him but the Yankees as well. It appears impossible that Stanton will be able to fulfill the balance of his contract.
No one wants to believe or think Stanton is in line as the next Jacoby Ellsbury. But his history of injury, together with the number of years in play between now and 2028, are ominous signals it can happen.
Against the odds, though, Yankees fans can hope that Aaron Boone is right, and Giancarlo Stanton will have a “monster” season in 2020.