CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Too Earl... (06/02)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run... (06/01)
Next Column >>
Prospectus Hit and Run... (06/08)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospects Will Break Y... (06/02)

June 2, 2011

Prospectus Hit and Run

Ain't it Grand(erson)?

by Jay Jaffe

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.

a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

On Tuesday night in Oakland, Curtis Granderson did something he hadn't done since August 15, 2008: collect three hits in a game off a single left-handed pitcher. Not just any lefty, either; his three hits came against the A's Brett Anderson, one of the league's top southpaws. Perhaps it wasn't Anderson's night, as the Bronx Bombers rocked him for 10 runs in 5 1/3 innings, but the lefty-swinging center fielder was at the center of the action. He started the fireworks show in the first inning, following Derek Jeter's leadoff single with a 393-foot blast to right field for his 17th home run of the season and a 2-0 lead. After striking out in the third, he laced a two-out, two-run single in the fourth to expand the Yankees' lead to 5-1, and singled in his final turn against Anderson in the sixth, coming around to score the Yankees' ninth run when Alex Rodriguez greeted reliever Brad Ziegler with a bases-loaded single. Granderson ended the night hitting .323/.373/.823 with nine homers in 69 plate appearances against lefties, a remarkable turnaround for a player who less than a year ago looked like platoon material. Small sample sizes be damned, his home runs and slugging percentage against lefties are the best for any American Leaguer from either side of the plate this year.

Granderson has emerged as the most potent hitter in the game's most potent lineup; through Tuesday, the Yankees led the majors with 5.26 runs per game, with the next-highest teams at 4.91. His .335 True Average—a park- and league-adjusted measure of total offensive value per out, expressed on the scale of batting average—ranked fourth in the league behind Jose Bautista, Matt Joyce, and Miguel Cabrera. His .627 slugging percentage ranked third behind only Bautista and Joyce, and his 17 homers second behind only Bautista. Like the Toronto slugger, whose September 2009 home run spike foreshadowed his 54-homer 2010 campaign, Granderson is the product of a dramatic late-season turnaround that has paid even bigger dividends the following year.

Rewind to last August, when he rode the bench for two days in Texas. Having been acquired over the winter in a three-way deal involving the Diamondbacks and Tigers, one which had cost the Yankees Ian Kennedy, Austin Jackson, and Phil Coke—all of whom had enjoyed strong seasons in their new locales, while their pinstriped counterparts flailed—the slumping 29-year-old lefty was hitting just .240/.307/.417 with 10 homers. After some focused attention from hitting coach Kevin Long, who had most notably helped Nick Swisher remake his swing in late 2009, a new Curtis Granderson emerged.

Long eliminated some of the moving parts from Granderson's swing, opened his stance, moved his hands back, and had him keep both hands on the bat throughout his motion. The hitting coach credits Granderson's intelligence with helping the changes stick. "He's a very bright young man, he was able to take the information that was given to him and simplify it into layman's terms," he said recently. "Simpler and more compact, a more explosive swing. I thought it was four or five big things, and he said it really wasn't that big of a deal.”

Back in the lineup on August 12 after his intensive cage work, Granderson went 2-for-3 with a double against Royals southpaw Bruce Chen, and from there he was off to the races, hitting .261/.356/.564 with 14 homers in his final 48 games; only Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki bopped more. From that point through Tuesday, Granderson's post-reconstruction line was .274/.356/.599 with 31 homers in 101 games, with only Bautista outdistancing him in homers, at 39.

The most striking facet of Granderson's turnaround is his performance against southpaws. During his four full seasons with the Tigers (2006-2009), he hit just .206/.265/.331 in such matchups. By rights he should have been riding pine whenever a lefty was on the hill, but manager Jim Leyland started him in 179 out of 193 such games. Though Granderson began playing every day with the Yankees, manager Joe Girardi had fewer reservations about benching him against lefties upon first-hand exposure to his woes. Granderson sat for eight out of 29 games, and hit just .206/.243/.275 with one homer and an ugly 28/5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 110 plate appearances against lefties when he did play—worse than his Detroit days. Since re-emerging, he has not only survived against southpaws, he has thrived; among lefties with at least 75 PA against their same-sided counterparts in that span, only the Reds' Jay Bruce has done better:








Jay Bruce







Curtis Granderson







Joey Votto







Chase Utley







Stephen Drew







Logan Morrison







Colby Rasmus







Jason Heyward







Adrian Gonzalez







Daric Barton







Granderson's potent bat has helped the Yankees offset agonizingly slow starts from Swisher, Derek Jeter, and Jorge Posada, and overcome the peaks and valleys amid the generally strong work by Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, and Russell Martin. He hasn't gone more than four straight starts without an extra-base hit, or more than seven straight starts without a homer, both the shortest spans among Yankee regulars. During that homerless drought—which ended with his shot off Anderson—all Granderson did was hit .357/.471/.607 with six extra-base hits and three steals, a reminder that there's more to his game than just the long ball.

In a year in which Bautista is putting up numbers reminiscent of late-period Barry Bonds, Granderson isn’t tremendously likely to earn AL MVP honors, particularly with a story arc shadowing that of the Toronto slugger. Nonetheless, he’s the leading light on the team with the best record in the game’s toughest division, a player who has worked hard to shore up the holes in his game. That’ll have to do.

                                        A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider Insider.

Jay Jaffe is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jay's other articles. You can contact Jay by clicking here

Related Content:  Curtis Granderson,  Southpaws

9 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links


Jay Bruce's numbers don't seem right to me. Where did you get them?

Jun 02, 2011 09:27 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Straight from the Baseball Musings Day-By-Day database: http://bit.ly/jqR2EI.

Bruce is hitting .381/.435/.857 with 5 homers in 47 PA vs. LHP this year, via Baseball Reference. He closed last year by going 14-for-32 with nine homers vs. LHP from August 12 onward. A log of those homers is at http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/F62de. I'm not really sure how it hasn't received more play - it's pretty remarkable.

Jun 02, 2011 09:47 AM

That is remarkable! Thanks for clarifying. I looked and saw he hit 12 off lefties in 159 AB's. He really turned it up a notch.

Jun 03, 2011 15:52 PM
rating: 0

Grandy is dandy. He did seem to be pretty unhappy in his last months with the Tigers. I'm glad to see his breakout. He and Matt Joyce are two Tigers that have done better after they left Detroit, in the latter case mainly just maturing and in the former case benefiting from really good coaching.

Jun 02, 2011 22:35 PM
rating: 0

Forgive me if you have already seen this, but Tyler Kepner of the New York Times (iirc) pointed out Wednesday that only one player other than Granderson in modern baseball history had 17 HR and 5 triples by June 1- Mr. Ruth. Whatever you want to say about the usual sort of Elias Bureau stuff, that is quite remarkable.

Jun 03, 2011 13:01 PM
rating: 0
Jason Wojciechowski

I don't know what would happen if you adjusted for league and park, but weighting OBP and SLG properly means that Votto's line against lefties is actually better than Granderson's, right?

Jun 05, 2011 10:16 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Yes, all things considered, a point of OBP is worth more than a point of SLG, which is why OPS and even OPS+ are less preferable than True Average. Unfortunately, doing splits on the fly using the latter isn't something we're set up to do.

Jun 06, 2011 09:19 AM
Jason Wojciechowski

Is it something that might be in the works? Or are the adjustments that go into TAv unsuited to splits?

(Perhaps this is a Wyers Question (TM).)

Jun 07, 2011 22:32 PM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

They can be done. I believe Clay Davenport had some in place in his abortive redesign of the translation cards. Just a matter of doing it.

Jun 10, 2011 13:52 PM
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Too Earl... (06/02)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run... (06/01)
Next Column >>
Prospectus Hit and Run... (06/08)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospects Will Break Y... (06/02)

Fantasy Article Player Profile: David Robertson
Fantasy Article The -Only League Landscape: National League ...
Fantasy Article Tale of the Tape, Dynasty Edition: Nick Burd...
Fantasy Article Dynasty League Positional Rankings: Top 50 R...
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Huston Street Might Have Reli...
Pitching Backward: In Search of the Winninge...
Rubbing Mud: A Solution Does Not Exist

Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Down Goes Doumit
Premium Article Prospects Will Break Your Heart: U Got the L...
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Too Early to Count Out
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks in the Bullpen
The BP Wayback Machine: Baseball's Exciting ...

2011-06-10 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: The Trials of Joba
2011-06-08 - Prospectus Hit and Run: Anatomy of a Collaps...
2011-06-07 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit List: NL: Something Brewin'
2011-06-02 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Ain't it Grand(erson...
2011-06-01 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Westward Huh?
2011-05-31 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit List: NL: The Valdez Non-Disa...
2011-05-26 - Prospectus Hit and Run: Buster Posey Busted

2011-06-15 - Prospectus Hit and Run: The Big Gamble
2011-06-10 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: The Trials of Joba
2011-06-08 - Prospectus Hit and Run: Anatomy of a Collaps...
2011-06-02 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Ain't it Grand(erson...
2011-06-01 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Westward Huh?
2011-05-26 - Prospectus Hit and Run: Buster Posey Busted
2011-05-26 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: A Shuffled Deck

2011-06-03 - What You Missed: 5/30-6/3