Giancarlo Stanton has always been known for murdering baseballs at an alarming rate, but this season his dong-shooting bazooka-bat has been working overtime at launching dingers straight into the sun. Stanton's historic pace has transformed the Marlins' 2017 from just another forgettable season of mediocrity into a year in which the Fish are just a couple of matchups out of the NL wildcard chase and playing games that matter well into September.
Stanton's monster season raises an obvious question: Is he having the greatest individual season, statistically, that a South Florida sports star has ever had? We did the homework. Here are the contenders for the title.
5. Ricky Williams, 2002. Ricky Williams' career in Miami was definitely a roller-coaster ride: There were ups, downs, dips, dives, and multiple instances where he almost made fans vomit. His 2002 season, however, was exhilarating, not nausea-inducing. In 2002, "Run Ricky Run" was born. He ran for 1,853 yards and 16 touchdowns, instantly becoming the saving grace for a team lacking weapons.
Ricky carried the ball a ridiculous 383 times in 2002 (and another 392 in 2003), so Dolphins games were pretty much his show. In ten games, he topped 100 yards, including two December games where he ran for more than 200. The Dolphins, in classic Dolphins fashion, squandered it all as they finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs.
4. Dwyane Wade, 2008-09. Months after there was Shaquille O'Neal and months before there was LeBron James, there was just Dwyane Wade — a really, really, really great Dwyane-freaking-Wade. The gap between the Heat's 2006 title and the Big Three era was, for the most part, a forgettable time for the Miami Heat, but as far as individual performances go, Wade's 2008-09 season will go down as one of the best for any athlete in South Florida sports history.
He won the NBA scoring title in 2008, averaging 30.2 points per game. On a seemingly nightly basis, he was dropping 40 to 50 points, most of the time in close games where every point was needed. It wasn't just about points, though: That season, Wade also became the first player in NBA history to rack up at least 2,000 points, 500 assists, 100 steals, and 100 blocks in a season and just the fifth to ever reach 2,000 points, 500 assists, and 150 steals in a season.
3. LeBron James, 2011-12. There are statistically great NBA seasons; then there is the next-level, numbers-do-not-compute, 404-error-code-NBA-2K season that LeBron James unleashed upon the NBA's collectively unready ass in 2011-12. After losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA finals the previous year, James was intent on unleashing his fury upon anyone who stood in the way. It did not end well for them.
Over the whole season, he averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 6.2 assists while shooting a ridiculous-for-a-noncenter 53.1 percent from the floor. He took home his third MVP trophy following the regular season and then put up 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game in the NBA finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder on his way to his first NBA title and a finals MVP trophy.
2. Giancarlo Stanton, 2017. Giancarlo Stanton is absolutely raking the baseball right now. Seriously, it's absurd. Stanton was in the zone roughly two weeks ago. Now he's in the Matrix. It's as if he's playing Little League and the fences are just behind the infield. Stanton smacked his 50th home run last weekend and has a real shot at topping the 61 homers Roger Maris hit in 1961, which is still the unofficial wink-wink-official untainted record.
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1. Dan Marino, 1984. Before there were strict defensive pass-interference rules and defenders could actually hit quarterbacks without fearing jail time, there was Dan Marino, carving up NFL defenses like a Thanksgiving turkey. After his promising rookie season with the Miami Dolphins in 1983, most experts figured Marino would be pretty good. Nobody predicted a passing season that changed the sport forever.
The 22-year-old Marino threw a then-NFL-record 48 touchdowns in 1984, 16 more than anyone else that year. Marino also won the passing-yards title by 470 yards and boasted a passer rating of 108.9, all while having no running game (the Dolphins' leading rusher in 1984 was a guy named Woody who averaged 37 yards per game). Marino's 1984 will forever go down as the greatest individual sports season South Florida has ever seen.