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Giancarlo Stanton: I'd have hit 80 home runs in 2017 if I'd stolen signs

Giancarlo Stanton thought about the prospect of knowing what pitches were coming via illegal sign stealing and realized how he could have used it to his advantage.

"If I knew what was coming in '17, I probably would have hit 80-plus home runs," Stanton told reporters Wednesday at the New York Yankees spring training base in Tampa, Fla.

Stanton hit a major-league best 59 homers in 2017 when he was named National League MVP while playing for the Miami Marlins -- the most home runs in the major leagues since 2001.

He made the comment while expressing his opinion that the sign-stealing scandal involving the Houston Astros is a bad look. Especially with the way the Astros decided to handle it publicly.

"It would have been better if there was an apology or explanation on their side," Stanton said. "We know that (the Astros) don't really care to give an apology or explain their side, and it showed by their response. As players, we know that. You know the repercussions of doing something like that, and you're only really sorry because you got caught."

Houston was punished by Major League Baseball commissioner Rod Manfred but the discipline didn't involve any players. The club's 2017 World Series title was allowed to stand, and that bothers Stanton.

Teammate Aaron Judge expressed his disapproval on Tuesday, saying "it wasn't earned the way of playing the game right and fighting to the end." Stanton said he agreed with Judge's viewpoint.

"They did their investigation and it was clean-cut that they cheated that year, which means it should be taken away," Stanton said. "I mean, if you cheat in another way during the season you can't even be in the playoffs, so therefore you would be eliminated. So it's pretty much the same -- same difference.

"I don't think the penalties were harsh enough player-wise. I think that, at the end of the day, it gives more incentive to do that, if you're not going to punish the players that took part in it."

As for Astros owner Jim Crane proclaiming he wasn't sure if the sign stealing had an impact on games, Stanton said: "He knew. He knew."

Astros manager A.J. Hinch was fired in the fallout of the scandal, and it also led to the Boston Red Sox parting ways with manager Alex Cora (Houston's bench coach at the time) and the New York Mets moving on from recently hired manager Carlos Beltran (a Houston player at the time). Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow also was dismissed.

Luhnow and Hinch were suspended by Major League Baseball, which also fined the franchise $5 million and stripped the team of its draft picks in the first and second rounds over the next two seasons.

Also under the microscope is Stanton's health after he played in only 18 games last season due to five different injuries: biceps, shoulder, calf, knee and quadriceps.

"I didn't have much time off. I got my rest, but I had to rehab the moment the season was over and then by the time I was done rehabbing, I had my normal offseason training," Stanton said. "Just getting my knee and quad to full strength. I did everything I needed to do. I have no limitations -- just have to be smart with the workload, getting back into it. But no limitations."

Stanton, 30, batted .266 with 38 homers and 100 RBIs in 2018 in his first season in the Bronx. Last year, he batted .288 with three blasts and 13 RBIs in 72 at-bats.

Overall, Stanton has 308 homers, 785 RBIs and a .268 average in 10 seasons with the Marlins (2010-17) and Yankees. He is a four-time National League All-Star.