Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton’s run away MVP campaign got derailed on Thursday night, just a few weeks before the season ends. Stanton suffered multiple facial fractures, dental damage and a facial laceration requiring stitches after being hit in the face by a pitch from Brewers starter Mike Fiers (whose postgame apology sounded more like an axe-murderer repenting at sentencing) in the fifth inning.
Stanton, whose 37 homers and 105 RBIs lead the National League, came to the plate with runners on first and third with two outs and the Marlins trailing, 4-0. The second pitch from Fiers got away, striking Stanton in the face as he turned into the pitch.
Stanton hit the deck and looked like a dude who just caught a Henney bottle to the head at a South Beach club. Miami’s franchise player was attended to by medics, placed on a gurney, lifted from the field on an ambulance cart and then taken to a local hospital for X-Rays.
An obviously agitated Mike Redmond said Miami’s not optimistic about Stanton's return. “It's not looking good, that's for sure. It’s devastating for us,” said the Marlins ‘skipper on MLB Network. “For his season to end like that…It’s not good.”
Redmond also said Stanton didn't lose consciousness out on the field, but he was “bleeding heavily out of his mouth."
The Marlins lose their Babe Ruth and a guy who also ranks first in the NL in extra base hits (69), slugging percentage (.556) and OPS (.952).
In his fifth-season as a pro Stanton, 24, has ascended to elite-player status. It didn’t look like much would be stopping him until this mishap. Guys with aggressive hitting styles like Stanton, who dive into the ball, are susceptible to these types of injuries. The pitcher’s intention is to throw inside to back the hitter off of the plate and sometimes the pitcher’s control doesn’t coincide with the batter’s aggressiveness and you get a face-to-ball collision.
Stanton will physically recover from these injuries and he should return to form, but the psychological effect of getting beaned is different for each hitter. Players have said that it takes them a while to feel comfortable and confident at the plate after a vicious beaning. Some can never put it far enough in the back of their minds to totally recover. Others have had careers ended as a result of being beaned.
In 1920, Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman died 12 hours after being hit in the head by Carl Mays. Batting helmets, which became mandatory protective gear in 1956, has enabled baseball to avoid any further deaths-by-beaning.
On August 18, 1967, California Angels pitcher Jack Hamilton hit Boston Red Sox slugger Tony Conigliaro his left cheekbone (batting helmets back then didn't have the protective ear-flap that is now standard). Conigliaro, who suffered a linear fracture of the left cheekbone, a dislocated jaw, and severe damage to his left retina highlighted by a vicious black eye as witnessed by the world on the cover of a Sports Illustrated Issue, and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher.
Before being beaned by Mike Torrez on April 8, 1984, Houston Astros shortstop Dickie Thon the led the NL with ten triples in 1982, led all NL shortstops with 20 homers and 533 assists in 1983, and led the league with 18 game-winning RBI, driving in 79 overall.
After Torrez beaned Thon, the All-Star suffered from poor vision and frequently spent time on the disabled list. Thon's power, batting prowess and baserunning skills were never the same.
Those beanings were considered mistakes. When you combine a flame-throwing, steroid juiced, ultra-competitive, nasty Texas-tosser like Roger Clemens into the mix and put him against a high-profile slugger (Mike Piazza)who smashed a grand slam off of him earlier in the year, lightening can strike.
On July 8, 2000, New York Yankees pitcher Clemens gunned a fastball at the head of the New York Mets catcher Piazza. The Rocket knocked Piazza unconscious and gave him a concussion that forced him to miss the 2000 MLB All-Star Game.
Stanton should look on the bright side. Yes, this untimely beaning has cost him a 40-homer season, and possibly the MVP. It's also probably cost his Marlins (71-74) any shot at finishing with a winning record for the first time since 2009, but the franchise is leap years better than the 100-loss club of 2013. Miami fans at least have their interests peaked by Marlins baseball again. They have the makings of a strong team. When Jose Fernandez returns, the pitching staff, which ranks 11th in the NL, will be thorough like Chuck Scarborough. There’s always next year.