Mar
15

Hitting the opposite way a key for Granderson in 2010

By

In previewing Curtis Granderson’s season, I noted that his rebound to 2008 levels is essential for the Yankees offense. That would represent a replica of Johnny Damon‘s 2009 season, making Granderson the perfect fill-in. How, though, will he return to those levels? Clearly, hitting lefties better is a good start. But what then? Where else was Granderson deficient in 2009?

Throughout his career, Granderson has hit the ball well to left field. In fact, during his first full-season in 2006 he destroyed the ball to the opposite field, hitting .388 with a .320 ISO in 107 balls directed that way. His average to left dipped a bit during his breakout 2007 season, to .265, but he still hit for plenty of power, a .184 ISO. This is the season, though, during which he started to hit for more power to right. HIs ISO when pulling went from .229 in 2006 to .441 in 2007. In 2008 Granderson again hit well to the opposite field, posting a .327 BA and .292 ISO. This was, at least in part, because he hit 25.5 percent of his balls in play that way, similar to his 24.6 percent mark from 2006. He hit 20.5 percent the opposite way in 2007.

In 2009 Granderson got back to his 2007 level distribution, hitting 21.6 percent of his balls in play the opposite way. His numbers on those balls in play dropped greatly, too, a .179 batting average and a .047 ISO. Of course, as in his 2007 season, his numbers when pulling spiked, a .385 BA and .405 ISO. Even better for him, he hit 259 balls that way, far more than at any point of his career, representing 52.3 percent of his balls in play. Yet the net effect was negative, and Granderson posted the worst BA and OBP of his career.

Granderson’s poor contact to the opposite field in 2009 shows in his batted ball splits. He hit a career high 73.6 percent fly balls to left, though it wasn’t terribly higher than his 70.8 percent mark in 2008. The difference, however, showed up in two other places. First, he hit 24.4 percent of those opposite field fly balls to the shortstop or third baseman. That means of the 79 fly balls he hit to left, 19 of them didn’t leave the infield. Even worse, zero of those 60 outfield fly balls left the yard. Granderson never flashed tremendous home run power to left, but he’s always put at least a couple out of the yard. Not in 2009.

Furthermore, Granderson hit a scant few ground balls to the left side, which likely sapped his batting average (since ground balls go for hits more often than fly balls). He hit just 8.5 percent ground balls the opposite way, about half his percentage from 2008. Also, though not as significant, he also posted a three-year low in infield hit percentage to the left side. Since most infield hits go in that direction, he further hurt his average.

While Granderson’s issues against lefties are well-documented and easily accessible, his numbers when hitting the opposite way also present cause for concern. During his run from 2006 through 2008 Granderson generally hit well the opposite way; even in his pull-happy 2007 he still far outperformed his 2009 marks. We’ve often heard that the left field porch at Yankee Stadium could help Granderson, but perhaps it could work against him. If he starts trying to put balls there it could hurt his numbers going the opposite way. As we’ve seen, his inability to hit that way in 2009 played a prominent role in his poor performance.

Photo credit: Gene J. Puskar/AP

Categories : Offense

118 Comments»

  1. pete says:

    you guys are seriously amazing

  2. A.D. says:

    hopefully that month of work Long put in before the trade will aid many of his batting woes.

  3. Steve H says:

    Does he need to hit to the opposite field from both sides of the plate?

  4. Mattingly's Love Child says:

    Hitting to the opposite field is quite difficult, I’d venture to call it a skill. It seems like it was a skill that Granderson had at one point. If he focuses on hitting away, he should be able to get back to that. The Yanks don’t need him to hit 35 homeruns to be a good ballclub, so hopefully he doesn’t focus on the porch.

  5. larryf says:

    I like the dirt on the back knee. Hope to see lots of dirt on that uniform this year. That stance is a bit Damonesque although not as exaggerated. Both guys do not homer the opposite way….

  6. i would rather see granderson drive mroe balls the opposite way and raise his avg/obp against lefties than belt 40 hr against righties and have the same lefty problem as last year. a more balanced player overall would be a much nicer commodity especially on a team as loaded as the jankees

  7. gc says:

    None of this matters. He doesn’t make the Yankees offense as well balanced as the Phillies. Jon Heyman said so today.

  8. “He (Granderson) hit a career high 73.6 percent fly balls to left, though it wasn’t terribly higher than his 70.8 percent mark in 2008. The difference, however, showed up in two other places. First, he hit 24.4 percent of those opposite field fly balls to the shortstop or third baseman. That means of the 79 fly balls he hit to left, 19 of them didn’t leave the infield. Even worse, zero of those 60 outfield fly balls left the yard.”

    Those flyball’s to a hitter’s opposite field (especially those infield pop ups) mostly occur when a hitter pulls out his front shoulder, and the bat gets lazy through the hitting zone. Also, on outside pitches, the hitter does not wait long enough on the ball, is out in front and pops up. Waiting on the outside pitch a split second more allows a hitter to stay on top of the ball and drive it the other way.

    Hitting coach Kevin Long has already recognized the shoulder pull hitting fault with Granderson, and I expect to see less fly balls the other way and more line drives into the left field gap, raising the amount of doubles and triples for C-Grand.

    It is interesting that while Granderson’s HR totals the last three season have been 23, 22 and 30, his SLUGGING percentage has declined since 2007 due to the severe drop in doubles and triples.

    Expect that to change in 2010 as Curtis hits more line drives to the LF gap while also hitting more HR’s in cozy Yankee Stadium.

  9. Steve H says:

    He hit a ball the other to left field (batting lefty) in practice the other day. That qualifies as progress.

  10. steve s says:

    Let’s put it this way. We are all salivating at the prospect that Granderson will be a 30+ homer guy based on his 20 on the road and 10 at Comerica totals from last year. If he hits 30+ but with career average OBP and OPS and he’s going after some balls like a CF Knoblauch perhaps the fascination with his HR totals may not save him but most likely a 30+ HR year, no matter what part of the field he hits them to, will be well-received and will confirm to many Yankee fans that the deal was a steal.

    • Drew says:

      That’s a long ass sentence you got there.

      IMO, I don’t care about what many Yankee fans think of the deal. If Curtis produces like he has in the past, he’s a hell of an addition to our outfield. Whether he hits 20, 30 or 40 Hr’s, he can still be a very productive centerfielder. Especially if he can spray the ball around the field.

      • steve s says:

        Glad you were able to get through the sentence. Hitting lefties better than he has in the recent past will be the key to his productivity. Hitting long outs to left field rather than short HR’s to right is counter-productive advice for this guy in his new home.

    • … but most likely a 30+ HR year, no matter what part of the field he hits them to, will be well-received and will confirm to many Yankee fans that the deal was a steal.

      But wait, dude, didn’t you hear? The deal can’t be a “steal”, because Granderson was a “salary dump” and the marginal players we gave away to get him (like, for example, Phil Coke) may “strike gold”. Deals like that can’t be considered “steals” or “swindles”, and thus Cashman should get no real credit for them. He was just the dumb luck beneficiary of some other team’s salary-dump gone awry.

      So sayeth SBGL.

      http://riveraveblues.com/2010/.....ent-803518

      • Steve H says:

        The best part is, most people thought that Cash had swindled Williams when the trade was made. Now, after the 2009 season, it’s completely obvious to anyone, I repeat anyone, that Cash swindled Williams on that deal.

        • bexarama says:

          Williams has to be the only GM that has to make moves based on whether the batshit crazy manager of his team gets along with the players or not.

        • BUT WAIT, JEFF MARQUEZ MAY STRIKE GOLD!!!!

          Sincerely,
          Sal/Bo/Grant/Lanny, the guy who insists ad nauseam that Andrew Brackman, a raw developmental prospect with legit ace upside is an irredeemable bust after 106 post-surgery low-A innings but thinks that the book hasn’t yet been closed on Jeff Marquez even after his 606 minor league innings and limited projectability and lower ceiling, and who is willing to contradict himself over and over again in order to push his silly little “Cashman sucks and makes bad decisions” agenda

  11. CS Yankee says:

    The old saying “RBI’s are made opposite field” is due to the fact that 70% +/- of hitters bat RH and in putting the ball in RF will let the runner at second score much easier than a ball to CF or LF.

    We just need Grandy to;
    1) Continue to rake to RF as this fits his main strength to plate runs and hit over the porch.
    2) If they only pitch him outside, to load slower and push liners opposite-field.
    3) Stay cool & understand a platoon may be needed on LHP.

    Doing this plus signing autographs for the kids will exceed Damon’s departure and help lead us towards 28.

  12. CS Yankee says:

    You punking me, TSJC?

    If so, I expect a refreshment.

    I’m just saying, Grandy is a great player now…and is an asset above what we have had. let him do what he does and the rest is just icing.

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.