Curtis Granderson: Jekyll and HydeDecember 9, 2009
The Yankees are on the verge of acquiring Curtis Granderson, an All-Star in 2009 who may be the center fielder the Yankees have been looking for since the departure of Bernie Williams. In Granderson, one scout said, “the Yankee’s see Derek Jeter in him. He’s polished, professional, and can handle the spot light”
Granderson has had a solid career thus far, with a career .270 average, 102 Hrs, 299 RBIs, and 67 stolen bases in 674 games. It’s easy to see what the Yankees like about him. However, it’s also easy to see why the skeptics are so critical of the 28 year-old.
“It all depends on which Curtis Granderson shows up,” said one NL scout on Tuesday, “the ’08 Granderson or the ’09 Granderson.”
In 2009, Granderson’s batting average slipped from .280 to under .250. His OPS was down 78 points (to .780). His 141 strikeouts were the ninth most in the American League. Furthermore, he had the second-lowest on-base percentage of all leadoff hitters, at .319. His ability to hit left-handed pitching? A woeful .183 average against south-paws, the worst in baseball.
“And you know what really disappointed me,” said one scout, “was how he played center field, not getting balls you expect a guy like him to get to.”
Granderson’s Zone Rating last year was 13th amongst 20 qualifying center fielders. His range factor was 8th, and his fielding-percentage was 10th. He also had only four outfield assists.
As I watched the stretch-run of the AL Central race (the Mets were out of it by July) one thing was consistent: Granderson making the top 10 bloopers on Sportscenter. Curtis dropped and bobbled plenty of balls, and failed to throw out any runners. What once was a strong throwing arm has declined as much as his OPS.
What works in Granderson’s favor might be a change of scenery. Curtis hit just .230 at home last year, with a shocking .388 slugging percentage and only 10 home runs. Away from Comerica, he slugged 20 homers in 322 at-bats, with 25 of his 30 total coming to right field. It seems that Yankee Stadium is perfect for Mr. Granderson.
“He’s going to lift some fly balls,” said one of the scouts quoted earlier. “So it’s tough to say they made a mistake. At first glance, you say the Yankees gave up too much. But when you look at it, Austin Jackson is a piece the Yankees can afford to give up, because they’re just not going to play a kid every day until they turn that club over, until Derek Jeter is done and A-Rod’s on the back-end of that contract.”
“The price was steep,” said another scout. “But I think this guy is a nice piece for their club. I have my concerns about him. But I still think he’ll fit into that lineup just fine.”
I don’t agree that the price was steep, as Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke were expendable and Austin Jackson has yet to prove anything at the Major League level. Nonetheless, I don’t see how Yankee fans can be overly excited about this trade, and to be fair most aren’t. Sure Granderson is going to probably hit 25-30 home runs, but do the Yankees really need more power? What should concern Yankee fans is his fielding, which became comical.
If Curtis Granderson resorts back to his play of two-years ago, and turns out to be a gold-glove caliber center fielder, then this trade was brilliant. But which Granderson is going to show up in 2010? I guess time will tell.