When it comes to what might have been, Giancarlo Stanton makes no excuses.
Sure, it would be easy. It would be easy to say, "If only." But the slugger knows the bottom line of what he has accomplished and what might have been if he had stayed healthy.
The numbers don't lie. Stanton, remarkably, is tied for second place in the National League in home runs, at 34. He and Cincinnati's Jay Bruce are six off the pace set by Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, who has 40.
What's telling is the fact that Stanton reached his total in 117 games, compared with 146 for Bruce and 143 for Braun. Certainly, if Stanton had played in, say, 19 more games, he might be right there with Braun.
"No 'what ifs,'" Stanton said. "Do it or be quiet."
The slugger keeps an eye on the home run race, and he's not shocked that he's among the leaders, despite the missed time.
"That is a nice little list there to be part of," he said. "But like I said, the reason that I got here is, this is what I've done all my life. It's not so eye-opening to me as it is to everybody else."
Still, you can't build on numbers when you're not in the lineup. And Stanton has been out since Sept. 16 with a strained left intercostal muscle, an injury sustained when he did a swipe slide into home plate against the Reds on Sept. 15. He played the next day, but every time he swung the bat, it caused some discomfort.
Stanton has missed six straight games, and it is unlikely that he will see action in Miami's final road series of the season -- a three-game set at Atlanta beginning on Tuesday. Stanton hopes to play at some point over the final nine games, but he's not dwelling on what kind of power numbers he would have posted had he not missed time.
Before this latest ailment, Stanton had surgery on his right knee on July 8. He returned on Aug. 7. Back in April, he was hindered by a sore left knee, which is partly why he got off to a slow start.
"You can't do 'what ifs' after the fact," he said. "'What if I didn't swing at that ball?' Well, you did."
No Marlin has ever won a home run title, and only one player in franchise history has hit 40 or more homers. (Gary Sheffield belted 42 in 1996.)
Only three times in club history has a player reached 34. Stanton has done it twice, equaling his total of a year ago. In 2007, Miguel Cabrera hit 34. So with one more homer, Stanton would have the second-most shots by a Marlin.
One of the league's strongest players, Stanton continues to refine his overall game. A three-sport standout in high school, the 22-year-old was raised playing football and basketball in addition to baseball. He's still learning the game and the limits he can place on both his body and his abilities.
"He's a good ballplayer," catcher John Buck said. "People don't realize the range he's also covering out in right field."
Despite standing 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 250, Stanton runs neck and neck with some of the fastest players on the Marlins, including fleet-footed shortstop Jose Reyes.
"If you line him and Reyes up, and you see them in a race, he's right there or ahead of him," Buck said. "In Spring Training, you will be able to see it. He's just learning how to play the game."
But power is where Stanton is making his impact. Still, he wants to be known for more than his brute strength.
"From this [injury], you learn to don't try to do something you can't," Stanton said. "Understand, every pitch can't go out of the ballpark. Every situation, you're not going to hit a home run. You've got to figure out how to play the game of baseball, and understand what [the pitcher] is trying to do. Have your own plan. Come up with something that way. You've got to play and play and play. Listen and learn."