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Marlins slugger Stanton is off to his best yet

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 19, 2014 at 4:03 pm •  Published: April 19, 2014
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MIAMI (AP) — Chasing a fly in deep right-center field, Giancarlo Stanton and Miami Marlins teammate Christian Yelich appeared headed for a collision, and perhaps the disabled list.

At the last moment, the slender Yelich hit the brakes, allowing the 6-foot-6, 242-pound Stanton to make the catch.

"I kind of peeled off," Yelich said. "Self-preservation. You never want to run into that guy. It's not going to end well for me."

The word is out, to teammates and opponents alike: Stay out of Stanton's way. He's not to be stopped.

Precocious and prolific, with a predilection for the prodigious, Stanton has never had a start like this. A game-winning grand slam Friday night against Seattle increased his RBI total to 26, seven more than any other player in the major leagues. The home run was his sixth, which tied him for the most in the majors, and his six game-winning RBIs rank first.

He went into Saturday's game against Seattle batting .329 with a .657 slugging percentage.

"I'm not trying to do too much," Stanton said. "I'm just relaxed and understanding the situations, and putting the bat on the ball."

He's also healthy for a change after missing 39 games in 2012 and 46 in 2013 because of injuries.

"This guy has had an unbelievable month," manager Mike Redmond said. "It started for him in spring training. He came in ready to go, and you could see him focused with new energy and drive, and that has really carried over."

Despite limited playing time in his first four seasons, Stanton became one of the youngest players in major league history to hit 100 homers when he reached the milestone last year at 23. His tape-measure homers make even crusty veterans shake their heads in amazement.

Through Friday he's on pace to finish with 57 homers and 248 RBIs. And maybe his productivity will pick up — Stanton has been notoriously lousy in past Aprils and never had more than nine RBIs in the month before this season.

Better pitch selection is a factor in his success. Stanton has averaged more than one strikeout a game in his career, and he's prone to chase outside breaking balls while taking fastballs down the middle.

But he has been harder to fool this year, and quicker to pounce on fat pitches.

"I'm still chasing some, and not looking good doing it," he said. "When you do get balls over the plate, you've got to do something with them. If I strike out, it's going to happen. But I try to do damage when it's over the plate."

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