Some good things are happening to the Marlins these days. With a winning record and a second half in front of them poised to make a run at the playoffs, things are definitely moving in the right direction.
With Don Mattingly at the helm in his first season in Miami, the club culture is also moving in the right direction. This is confirmed by the 4 All Stars in AJ Ramos, Marcell Ozuna, Jose Fernandez, and newly-arrived Fernando Rodney. Yet, it was the team’s $300 million dollar man, Giancarlo Stanton, who made the biggest splash, winning the home run derby in dramatic fashion before the awed San Diego crowd on Monday night.
61 home runs – the most ever by any contestant in the classic All Star game exhibition – totaling over 5 miles of long balls. It was an impressive display as Stanton confirmed why he has the most powerful bat in the game, routinely hitting balls to 490+ feet all night.
It’s also confirmation that Stanton is a legit star in this game. The players were watching him with as much anticipation as the fans were. Everyone wanted to take it in. Admittedly, I was concerned he would repeat his performance from Minnesota, where he was clearly the class of the field but failed in the later rounds to get liftoff. No performance problems in front of this crowd at all. He even took the hat off and got a little more involved with the crowd.
All of this bodes well not just for Stanton’s brand, but for the Fish. Paying him a record sum may have seemed like a good deal but it has come with some criticism as his injuries had piled up and this season he seemed mired in a slump. Yet, this comes at just the right time – Giancarlo seems to have found his swing and put it all together on the big stage in San Diego. If he hits his stride, is there a more dangerous hitter in all of baseball that could reshape the pennant race down the stretch?
What is more is that Stanton now becomes the hometown host/ambassador for the ASG next year here in Miami. He also gets to defend his crown at his house in one of the toughest parks to hit home runs at. It seems like it is all coming together for Giancarlo and the Marlins.
Somewhere, Barry Bonds smiles.