Stanton traveling, unwinding after 'brutal' season

Stanton traveling, unwinding after 'brutal' season

MIAMI -- After a physically and mentally draining season, Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton is doing what he normally does after eight months of baseball: He's getting away for a few weeks. Far away.

Stanton, Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos, and Angels right-hander Ricky Nolasco, a former Marlin, are vacationing in Brazil, where on Monday they posted on social media pictures of a mural they had painted in honor of Jose Fernandez.

From Brazil, the trio plans to travel to other parts of the world, including Europe.

After the Marlins wrapped up their 79-82 season at Washington on Oct. 2, Stanton talked briefly about what he intended to do during his October vacation.

"Not say a word about baseball," Stanton said. "Not say a word about any physical activities for a little bit."

Stanton, Ramos and Nolasco still have Fernandez, who died in a boating accident on Sept. 25, on their minds. They paid tribute with the mural in his honor.

From a performance standpoint, 2016 was a rough one for Stanton, who had a slash line of .240/.326/.489. He had career lows in batting average and on-base percentage, and his only season with a lower slugging percentage was '13 (.480).

In 119 games, Stanton's 1.7 WAR, per FanGraphs, was his lowest since 2.6 in 2013 when he played in 116 games.

Stanton's year also was interrupted by a Grade 3 left groin strain on Aug. 13, which caused him to miss three weeks. Initially, the fear was he'd be out the rest of the season. The fact that Stanton beat the odds and rejoined his teammates for the stretch run was, in his words, "the best thing I ever could have done."

From the baseball side, he got back into a playing routine. But from a personal side, he was glad to be with his teammates, especially after the tragedy that claimed the lives of Fernandez and his two friends.

"If I wasn't out there [playing] during that time, and I could have been, I would have never forgiven myself," Stanton said. "I'm just glad I didn't let it go as if the season was over."

Even in a down year, Stanton was impactful, belting 27 homers and driving in 74 runs.

Just his presence makes him one of the most feared hitters in the game. According to Statcast™, Stanton had the five hardest hit balls put into play in 2016, with the top exit velocity being 120.1 mph. Stanton also barreled the longest home run ever recorded by Statcast™ -- projected at 504 feet from home plate.

Overall, Stanton summed up his season in one word: "Brutal." But he was encouraged with how he felt physically and what he was working on at the plate during the final few weeks.

"I like what came out of it," he said. "I like how I'm feeling."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.