Curtis Granderson made two plays last night that may have saved the Yankees season, but much like his defense in general, people were split on exactly how good the plays were.
The play in the 6th inning was just amazing, there isn’t much debate on that. However, there was a play in the 1st inning that looked spectacular, but may not have been as good as it looked.
What happened was A.J. Burnett had loaded the bases and the speedy Don Kelly smacked a line drive to deep center. Granderson initially took a couple of steps in before retreating back and making a leaping catch to save at least three and as many as four runs.
Some people point to the fact that he took a step forward first as evidence that he made a bad judgement on the ball. Others argue that it was a line drive nearly right at him that can be very hard to judge and that most outfielders would have either made a similar play or missed it altogether.
In a sense it is a microcosm of the entire debate surrounding Granderson and his defense. He can make great catches, but on at least some of them he might be making it look harder than it really is.
Marc Normandin of Baseball Nation tries to explain Granderson’s defense in a great article. He compares the different defensive stats that measure him and discusses their reliability as well. He also goes into some reasons for the possible discrepancies including positioning and the amazing wheels of Brett Gardner.
Regardless of where you stand on the Granderson as a good or bad outfielder, the Yankees like him. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the team keeps its own defensive statistics that show that he is a good defender.
“We have him as an above-average defensive outfielder,” Cashman said. “Our numbers don’t match some of that stuff. He comes out high on our defensive measurements.”