Giancarlo Stanton did not defend his season Wednesday night, but he did defend his work ethic and showed an openness to change.
A media session that lasted less than three minutes was revealing about the Yankees slugger amid his worst season.
Stanton, whose average sunk to a startling .188 and his OPS to .694 after he had another 0-for-4 night in the Yankees’ 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays in The Bronx, gave a review of his statistics likely in line with that of fans.
When he glances at the scoreboard and sees his batting average, Stanton said, he thinks, “Terrible.”
He is now 2-for-39 with 17 strikeouts in his past 11 games.
Last season had been the worst of his career, and he finished with a comparatively monstrous .211 average and .759 OPS.
As his hitting has fallen off, attention has turned to Stanton’s slow baserunning, a deliberate attempt to avoid injuries such as the hamstring strain that cost him a month and a half earlier this season.
He bounced into two slow-developing double plays Tuesday, after which manager Aaron Boone, who was ejected in the Yankees’ loss, said they would have to “look into” adjustments that might enable Stanton to be freer — and, presumably, faster — on the bases.
Stanton signaled he is open to those adjustments.
“Can’t produce like this season, so gotta change,” said Stanton, who is signed through 2027.
A prodigious hitter with 402 career home runs, Stanton has looked far older than his 33 years.
His performance has not been a result of a lack of effort, he contended.
“A lot of things I’ve got to work and adjust on,” Stanton said on a night when he made three outs with runners in scoring position. “But if you guys think I’m just showing up and going out there and not working, then I don’t know what to tell you.”
Several analytical numbers are kinder to Stanton than his batting average.
He still is stinging the ball.
He is hitting the ball on the ground less often than in past years.
He is striking out less than he did in 2018, when he received MVP votes in his first year with the Yankees.
Why have better results not followed?
“I’m not sure,” said Stanton, who has somehow been a below-average hitter serving as designated hitter the majority of the time.
Stanton has been streaky for most of his six seasons in The Bronx, capable of going from ice-cold to red-hot in an instant.
Both the slugger and his team have awaited one of those hot streaks, but it has not come in a lost season.
“There’s obviously a lot of conversation to be had there,” Boone said. “Hopefully … having a good winter to grow from this and to make whatever adjustments to put he and us in a better situation heading into next year, where … we get the more consistent Giancarlo that I believe is still in there.”