It's Year 2 for Giancarlo Stanton in pinstripes, and the theme thus far has been comfortability for the 6-foot-6 slugger. Stanton had an up-and-down 2018 season that still saw 38 round-trippers and 100 RBI fall on his stat sheet.
Stanton's production didn't make it a disappointing season, but it was his .229 average at Yankee Stadium and 5-for-21 performance in his first trip to the postseason that made Yankees fans shake their heads.
But that was last year, and Stanton has consistently alluded to it as one giant learning experience coming from Miami to New York. He reiterated that point on Wednesday after his final tune-up workout before Opening Day on Thursday.
"I had a good, solid learning experience last year and I have a little more idea [of] what to expect," Stanton told reporters. "Just the dynamic of our team, how our lineup comes together and how we feed off each other."
Being acclimated with his new teammates and knowing what to expect from the raucous Yankee Stadium crowd are just a couple things that should see a more calm, cool, and collected Stanton in 2019. Another is what he saw from American League hurlers, who attacked him in many different ways last season.
As manager Aaron Boone said, Stanton "gets under the hood" and studies his opposing pitchers throughout the season. He has been learning what certain pitchers want to do when he steps in the box, so he believes he'll have a good gameplan from the jump when his name is called to hit.
"I mean, it's part of our muscle memory. It's part of my DNA, I guess," Stanton said about adjusting to AL pitching. "You learn exactly how the pitcher releases the ball, you learn their tendencies, you learn their individual catcher's tendencies and how they pitch you. The more and more you see that, the more and more they run out of ways to approach you."
But can Stanton really become that comfortable within just one year? His home-run hitting teammate Aaron Judge believes it isn't a joke because of what he experienced in his first experience with the big club. Coming to Spring Training a minor-leaguer, Judge reminisced about how the veterans with the club made him feel like family, and that's what he and the rest of the team have done with Stanton.
"Just, in general, anytime you're comfortable you're going to play better. That's a big thing I noticed coming to Spring Training when I was in the minor leagues," Judge explained. "Having guys like CC [Sabathia], Tex [Mark Teixeira], and Gardy [Brett Gardner] kinda welcome me in and make me comfortable -- made me play better. Even though I was a little nervous, them treating me like I was a teammate for 10 years made it easier to play. So Stanton coming in here his second year knowing what to expect, being around the city, the media and how intense every single game is. Just going to be a better position for him."
The vibes were good for Stanton down in Tampa, as he slashed .310/.420/.643 with four homers and eight RBI over 17 games. Those are solid numbers to head to the Bronx with, and if Stanton can continue to see results like these, he knows what the results will be for this stacked Yankees squad this season.
"Well, we won 100 games last year and we're even better than we were last year," Stanton said. "So that's a great thing to come in to a season [with] and we just got to feed off it."