SI cover: Baseball's best power hitter, Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton

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Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton doesn't remember much about the moment that ended his 2014 season.

In the fifth inning of a Sept. 12 game in Milwaukee, Stanton stood square in the batter's box and took an 88-mph fastball from Brewers right-hander Mike the face.

The pitch broke Stanton's nose, cheek, orbital bone, an incisor and chipped five other teeth, forcing him to miss the team's final 17 games. He still finished second in the National League MVP race after hitting 37 home runs and driving in a career-high 105 runs.

"I'm used to squaring balls up," said Stanton, who is on this week's national cover of Sports Illustrated. "So I squared it up as good as I could-with my face."

Stanton's perspective on his baseball career changed after that, especially when his agent and Marlins brass met two months later to discuss a contract extension.

While the numbers and life-changing money that Miami was offering were impressive, Stanton wasn't initially convinced Miami was the right place for him, as the Marlins have been known for trading away All-Star-caliber talent in the past.

"If you think you are going to pay me a bunch of money and I'm going to go live my lavish lifestyle, come to the park and get my ass kicked every day, and go back to my lavish lifestyle, you got another thing coming," Stanton says. "I said that straight to their faces. I was angered."

Stanton, 25, eventually signed a 13-year deal for a record $325 million, only after insisting on an opt-out clause after six years.

He, too, wondered what provoked the Marlins to make that kind of commitment.

"Why would you give me so much money and not try to win," Stanton wondered. "What on earth is the point of that? They have to be serious about winning going forward."

For more on Stanton, check out this week's Sports Illustrated (subscribe here).

Also in this issue are features on Gonzaga power forward Kyle Wiltjer, Predators forward Mike Ribeiro and Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano.

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2015 Sports Illustrated Covers