Curtis Granderson finished dead last among all center fielders with a negative-17.8 UZR this season. Even if you don’t believe that he was the worst center fielder in baseball, anybody paying attention could see that he consistently took bad routes, got late jumps, and cost the Yankees quite a bit of runs with his poor defense.
The Yankees must have gotten tired of watching it because sources told Danny Knobler of CBS Sports that they are considering a switch as a result — moving Granderson to left field and having Brett Gardner take his spot in center.
It makes sense. I mean, Granderson hasn’t always been that bad of a center fielder so there is a chance that this was just a poor year and he could come back strong next year. Still, Gardner is amazing out there. He lapped the competition from 2010 through 2011 leading all major league outfielders with a 50.7 UZR. As a comparison in a similar amount of games, Carl Crawford had a 16.0 UZR and Austin Jackson had a 13.0. Gardner gets to everything and is being held back in left field. So while there is a chance Granderson bounces back it’s better to have Gardner out there anyway.
Playing in left could only help Granderson’s focus in the outfield with less ground to cover. Despite having only played 22 games in left field in his career, he has the speed and athleticism that the switch could help him return to the days when he posted UZR’s of 12.4 (2006), 15.1 (2010), and 6.4 (2010).
I expect the move could potentially turn Granderson from a liability into a defensive strength. And Gardner from a strength to an outright weapon.