Giancarlo Stanton holds leverage over Marlins in contract talk

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One of the best players to watch in Major League Baseball is also one that's watched close to the least.

Giancarlo Stanton, after Sunday's four-RBI performance, leads the National League in RBIs (88) while leading all of baseball with 32 homers.

He's hitting .295, so Stanton isn't a triple crown threat, but if a tape measure on those home runs counted for anything, he'd be leading by more.

He's simply the guy with the most light-tower power in the league, a guy who can hit the ball to places no one else can, and a guy who has led his young team to as many wins already this season (62) as the Marlins had all of last year.

"It's an intimidation factor that [Stanton] brings to the ballclubs, and this guy just continues to do it," manager Mike Redmond said to on Sunday. "We just played a long stretch of ballgames and guys are tired and emotional and on tilt. ... To come out on a day game -- they're always tough to play -- [and] for him to set the tone was huge."

Down 2013 season

Last year, Stanton struggled. It wasn't good, not at all. He was hurt off and on and finished with 24 homers, 62 RBIs and a .249 average.

It was the first time since his MLB debut season in 2010 that he hit less than 30 homers. That year, he had 22 in 100 games. The other years he's had 32 and 37.

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This year, Stanton has already reached a career high in RBIs too.

"When your big guy [Stanton] is producing the way he is, you've got a chance of winning a ballgame," pitcher Tom Koehler told "When you see him swinging the bat well, it makes everybody else not press and just go out there and do what they're capable of doing in that game."

Back feeling positive

Stanton was one of the most outspoken players when the Marlins had their most recent fire sale, dumping off players to the Toronto Blue Jays and elsewhere to drop salary.

Stanton was the big name that stayed.

Now, he's just 24 but he's also closing in on a chance for free agency after the 2016 season, meaning the Marlins are going to have to pay him big or watch him walk.

That has led some, like CBSSports' Jon Heyman recently, to doubt the Marlins have a legitimate shot to lock him up long term.

“Stanton's fair-market price tag has only increased markedly with his superb performance, though if there's an issue for Stanton, friends around the team suggest it's more about wins (and the ability to play for an annual contender) than dollars,” Heyman wrote.

“To this point, the Marlins have showed no outward desire or inclination to trade their franchise type position player, but rivals wonder if that could change as he draws closer to free agency without an extension.”

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Florida Marlins
MLB National League

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