2010 Player Previews: Curtis Granderson

2009: The 2007 season for Curtis Granderson was not only his breakout season for the Detroit Tigers, but it was the best of his career, hitting .302 with 23 HR and 74 RBI. 2008 was a decline, batting only .280. You could make a case that 2009 was Grandersons best offensive season, but I would argue it was his worst. As the lead-off man for the majority of the season in Detroit, he had a career-low .249 batting average. However, a career high 30 home runs did surprise many people. But, with his 30 HR, he only had 71 RBI, which one could say is a low number for a 30 home run hitter, even if he was hitting in the lead-off spot for the majority. Granderson hit only 10 of his 30 home runs at home, Comerica Park (a “pitchers” park). Despite these numbers, Granderson was still voted to his first All-Star game.

2009 Regular Season Totals: 91 Runs  157 hits  .249 AVG  30 HR  71 RBI  .327 OBP  .453 SLG  20 SB  6 CS

On December 9, 2009, the Yankees took part in arguably the biggest blockbuster trade of the MLB off season, which really came out of the blue. In a deal that involved the Yanks, the Detroit Tigers, and the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Yankees acquired OF Curtis Granderson. In the deal, the Yankees traded away LHP Phil Coke, RHP Ian Kennedy, and top-OF prospect Austin Jackson.

2010: My guess is that most Yankee fans would rather not see Curtis Granderson put up Nick Swisher type numbers (as he did last season) considering he is still due nearly $24 million over the next three seasons, and a $13 MM club option for 2013. There are several reasons for Yankee fans to be afraid of what Granderson brings, but there are also reasons not to be.

Cons:

  • Granderson is a career .213 (10-47) hitter at Yankee Stadium (old and new) with 2 HR and 3 RBI in 13 games
  • A career .210 (130-619) hitter vs. LHP, and .183 with 2 HR against them in 2009
  • Only 5 career steals in 7 attempts with a left hander on the mound
  • Strikeouts are a scare from Granderson, for he likes to swing the bat quite a bit (174, 141, 111, 141 strikeouts over the past 4 seasons)

Pros:

  • Granderson hit .339 (20-59) with 3 HR and 9 RBI in 18 games while batting 5th for the Tigers in 2009 (.240 batting 1st, 4th or 7th). He’s a career .344 hitter batting 5th
  • Averages 6 outfield assists in his 4 full MLB seasons
  • Having played at Comerica Park, which has a huge outfield, he should be able to adjust to the smaller (yet not-so-small) Yankee Stadium outfield easily
  • 27 of his 30 home runs in 2009 were pulled to right field (the other three were to dead center)
  • A career .320 hitter vs. Baltimore, .298 vs Toronto, .270 vs. Tampa Bay, and .252 vs Boston

Now, knowing these stats, do we look for Granderson to suceed in his first season, or stay where he was last season? I like that Granderson will be in the middle of the lineup for the Yanks this season, where he has proven to be able to hit in the past. His versatility, speed and power also allow him to move up and down in the lineup when needed, so if an injury does occur towards the top of the lineup, Girardi can fill Granderson into the spot. Since he is also a lefty pull-hitter, and will be playing 81 games in with the Yankee Stadium “Wind Tunnel,” I hope to see even more than 30 homeruns from Granderson, with a majority going out to right and right-center. With hitters like Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher hitting behind him, expect him to be stealing more than 20 bases as well, to allow the guys behind him to drive him in somehow. We still don’t know whether Girardi will put Granderson in centerfield or left field, where he would switch with Brett Gardner. I would expect that he starts the season in center and if Joe really feels the need for change, he’ll go for it. Being amongst a plethora of stars should also take alot of pressure off of Granderson in the middle of the lineup, opposed to Detroit where he was asked to basically do it all. Also, I think we’re all intrigued to see what gesture Granderson will use towards the crowd in his first Yankee “Role Call”…

2010 Regular Season Prediction: 104 Runs  178 Hits  .276 AVG  34 HR  84 RBI  .373 OBP  .522 SLG  27 SB  8 CS

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