October 10, 2020 | 6:14pm
After the Yankees were eliminated Friday night, Giancarlo Stanton called the 2020 season “a wild year, any way you look at it, to be honest.”
He was mostly talking about how COVID-19 made for challenging times in countless ways, but Stanton also could have been referring to his own season, which included another leg injury, an ugly slump down the stretch and then a memorable postseason — even if it didn’t lead the Yankees very far.
With all signs pointing toward Stanton making the no-brain move of declining the opt-out of the seven years, $218 million remaining on his contract, the 30-year-old slugger at least showed that when healthy, he can still be among the most dangerous hitters in the game.
Stanton will enter next season set to make $29 million, behind only Gerrit Cole’s $36 million on the Yankees’ payroll.
Even if Stanton stays on the field and produces as he did this October — and as he does most other times when he’s not hurt — it’s an enormous chunk of money for a player who figures to be limited to DH for much, if not all, of the rest of the contract.
But he also proved he is still able to instill fear into opposing pitching staffs.
After ending the regular season by going 3-for-26 with three doubles, no homers and 13 strikeouts in his final seven games, Stanton appeared in all seven postseason games for the Yankees and went 8-for-26 with a double, six homers and 10 strikeouts.
And it was another step in his evolution as a hitter.
According to Fangraphs, Stanton swung at the lowest percentage of pitches thrown to him in his career during the regular season (35.9 percent compared to his career average of 44.5 percent). He also chased the fewest pitches outside the strike zone (23.4 percent in 2020; 31.2 in his career).
The selectivity paid off, as he continued to hit the ball hard throughout the year and into the playoffs.
But it wasn’t enough to get the Yankees past the Rays and the defeat clearly bothered Stanton, who had been ineffective, injured — or both — in each of his two previous playoff runs with the Yankees.
“Just from this year being such an interesting and tough one, overall, this is the type of fight that you want to get all the way and win everything,’’ Stanton said Friday night of the loss to Tampa Bay. “With everything gone through, it’s pretty tough.”
And he acknowledged dealing with the hardships of the year was difficult.
“We were basically all we had during this whole time,’’ Stanton said. “A lot of us haven’t seen our family in eight-plus months, so we were really close. It’s a tough loss, man.”
He wasn’t willing to analyze the roster or what moves must be made in order to avoid a similar ending next season.
“We have the talent to do it,’’ Stanton said of winning it all. “I’m not gonna pick apart changes. It’s just a matter of getting it done. We haven’t gotten it done and that’s as plain as it can get.”