Jun
29

Curtis Granderson’s homerless stretch

By

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

So here’s a funny question: when’s the last time Curtis Granderson hit a homerun? It’s been a while, twelve team games in fact. That doesn’t really sound like much, but considering that he hit four homers in the twelve games before that and two homers in the twelve games before that, it feels like an eternity. Grandy’s last long ball was this garbage time shot off Yoshinori Tateyama in the first game of the Texas series. Yeah, it’s been a while.

There’s a few things worth noting about the homerless stretch. First of all, Granderson isn’t struggling without them. He has ten hits in his last 37 at-bats, a .270 average that is right in line with his .277 season mark. Two of those ten hits have been triples (though it’s hard to call last night’s triple and triple, thanks to Nyjer Morgan), and triples still clear the bases like homeruns. He’s also drawn eleven walks and been hit by two pitches in that time, good for a .426 OBP. Homers or not, getting on base that often is stellar.

Secondly, the lack of homers is likely a regression back to normalcy more than anything else. With 21 homers through the team’s first 65 games, Granderson was on pace to go deep more than 52 times this season, and it was really hard to see him doing that. No matter how prolific his power may be, 52 homers in a season is rarefied air. There’s a reason it’s only happened 31 times in baseball history. Twenty-one homers through 77 games put Grandy on pace for 44 dingers, which is still a huge number that we would have happily signed up for before the season started.

Third, pitchers really aren’t pitching him all that differently. With some help from Texas Leaguers, here’s a breakdown of the pitch selection Granderson’s seen since his last homer on June 14th…

Just a few more sliders, on average eight more per 100 pitches seen, which works out to about two more per game (give or take). It’s not like pitchers have stopped feeding Granderson fastballs all together. Yeah, his strikeout rate has gone up, from one whiff for every 4.38 plate appearances before his last homer to one for every 3.76 at-bats since, but six strikeouts in his first three games after that last homer are skewing the numbers. In his last nine games, Granderson has struck out once every 4.88 plate appearances.

We’re just about halfway through the season and Curtis Granderson is hitting .277/.365/.579 (.405 wOBA) with 21 homers, 38 extra-base hits, and 13 steals while playing very good defense at a premium position. He’s also played in all 77 team games (75 starts, two appearances off the bench), and durability is a wonderful trait. Whether you prefer fWAR (4.2) or bWAR (2.9), he’s already surpassed last season’s production (3.6 and 2.8, respectively). Granderson hasn’t hit a homerun in more than two weeks, but it’s just a blip on the radar more than anything. The fact that it’s noticeable when he doesn’t go deep for twelve straight should tell you that he’s been pretty damn awesome.

Categories : Offense
  • Hester Prynne

    We’ve been away from the stadium. I don’t think we hit too many homers in the Chicago and Cincinatti series, I remember Swish’s in Chicago and Jorge’s in Cincinatti. He’ll pick it up and be neck and neck with Teix as they race for 50.

    • Dale Mohorcic

      Your large broach reminds me of Anaheim stadium.

  • Klemy

    This article ensures that Curtis hits #22 tonight. Well timed sir!

  • James

    Where do we think he ranks in the AL MVP race at the moment? Bautista has cooled down a bit after a torrid start. Gonzalez is leading the league in both Avg and RBIs by a wide margin, and from the broadcasted games I’ve seen him play in, playing good defense at first. His teammate Big Papi is having a great season, and Konerko is having another stellar year.

    • Clay Bellinger

      I would think he’d have to be top 3.. with Gonzalez and Bautista.

  • steve (different one)

    I know Grandy doesn’t make as much $$ as some of the other guys, but I’m shocked to hear he is homeless. Oh…

  • Johnny O

    I like how an article that could be a complaint on Granderson’s powerless drought actually turns into an article of effusive praise for his amazing season in spite of that recent drought.

  • It’sATarp

    It might be a bit of a regression, but 12 games is still alot, since regression for grandy is going from 20% hr/fb to around 14%…but still even with that regression you’d think he hit one hr during this span (he’s still hitting a decent amount of fly balls). I think it also has to do with where pitchers are pitching him now. I would guess that after the torrid pace, pitchers would be more opted to pitch around grandy at times resulting in getting less pitches to hit out but a nice spike in walks.

  • CS Yankee

    Triples clear the bases like home runs?

    They don’t clear home base.

    /toomuchscoringisneverenough’d

    • jon

      but triples dont kill rallies as much as home runs

  • V

    Maybe it’s just me, but Granderson’s swing has appeared to be a bit long-ish to me, and he seems to be chasing that low-and-away breaking ball a lot more than he was earlier in the season. I’ve also seen him hit a fair number of deep fly balls on meatball fastballs that were homeruns earlier in the year.

    I’m not complaining about his production, mind you, but I do think “ah, he’s regressing” is a lazy approach to analyzing the dropoff in HRs. I think there’s a -real- reason for the dropoff and not just “oh well, them’s the breaks”.

    • V

      And if I had the time (I don’t), I’d do the analysis that I’m complaining about not being here ;-)

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

      I disagree. Oftentimes regression does involve hitting deep flies where you earlier hit home runs. It’s impossible to keep a swing locked in for an entire season, so results, particularly with power, will come and go. Essentially, I think you and Mike are saying the same thing. The swing that produced the 21 homers will come back in time.

      As for his swing in general, I couldn’t love it more. Keeps his weight on his back foot at all times, which allows him to better adjust to off-speed pitches. (You’ll notice that he flinches often, which is him staying back for something off-speed.) He keeps his arms in and creates tons of leverage.

      • Dale Mohorcic

        How much do we credit Kevin Long for that?

        • Sayid J

          A lot. I started noticing it this year starting with Granderson, but Long has done a great job of ‘quieting down’ their swings. Swisher, A-Rod and Granderson have all limited their bat movement pre-pitch in an effort to simplify their swing. Obviously the same concepts were turned down by Jeter, but a quiet swing produces less variation and more consistency. Good work by Long.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

          Not sure. I didn’t really pay attention to Granderson’s swing pre-Long, nor did I know as much about swing mechanics at the time. In general, though, I’d say that if it was a complete overhaul (which would involve a change in how he shifts his weight, for example), I’d give Long a lot of credit. If it’s just where he holds his hands and his pre-pitch movement, I’d give him a little less.

          • Bpdelia

            joe. you are an excellent analyst but from someone who got a scholarship to play baseball I gotta point this out. Its not “just pre pitch movement and hand pos”.

            Those two things are huge massive crucial aspects of a swing. Just to use one recent example paul o’neill’s carerr looked set. He was a former prspect who never developed the power as expected and whose swing looked too long to hit gor avg.

            He came to ny and with the same swing won a batting title by changing where he set his hands and adding a toe tapping pre pitch step.

            Swings are determined before they start hand position body movrment amd timing mechanisms are 75%.

            Long has been truly amazing. He is charlie lau like with a philosophy that works with a broad spectrum of players.

            Jeters babyish refusal to stick with longs ideas may have doomed his season. He clearly needs a new pre pitch method to ramp his swing up.

      • V

        “It’s impossible to keep a swing locked in for an entire season”

        Absolutely agreed, and this is where the ‘regression’ comes and goes. Likewise, a good major league hitter like Nick Swisher isn’t going to stay in a funk for an entire season.

        However, there’s a very real reason for a slump, other than ‘regression’. Maybe his mechanics are just so slightly off (he’s starting his swing too early or too late), but I don’t think it’s just random variation.

        I think this is my problem with a lot of sabermetric oriented writing (such as at fangraphs). Just because someone has a .400 BABIP or .200 BABIP doesn’t magically mean it’s going to regress – there’s usually a catalyst (pitchers pitching a guy differently and he takes awhile to adjust, a minor leg injury that messes with his timing, etc.). I’m just not a fan of the hand-wavy ‘oh, it’s regression’ that occurs ;-)

        • V

          (for the record, I’m philosophically a determinist and I’m in the actuarial profession. Doesn’t really vibe. Oh well ;-)).

  • theyankeewarrior

    Exact;y. It’s a matter of regression. He did get one lucky triple, but I can also recall at least two scorching outs, one to deep right field.

    Good to see the Grandy man at the top of his game.

  • Tranquility

    I’ve never known a HR hitter who didn’t hit HRs in streaks, or on the other extreme, go through streaks when they’re not hitting HRs. They may still hit overall, but they have HR clusters and HR droughts during the season.

    I’m not concerned about Granderson. I am a bit concerned about Martin, whose hitting production has dropped substantially since April. It may simply be that he is a very streaky hitter. He certainly wasn’t going to hit .320 and hit 38 HRs, a pace he was on in April. Yet his BA now is way below his career norms. Perhaps a hot streak is coming. He seems a bit pull-happy.

    • V

      Russell Martin is banged up, and should have been given and should be given a heckuva lot more days off than he currently gets. It’s as if the Yankees DON’T have a catching prospect banging on the door and asking to be allowed to catch, oh, 2-3 days a week.

      • Tranquility

        I think they’re clearly going for the extra defense that Martin brings, and sacrificing some offense. There was an interesting study from a week or two back that for the first time try to quantify which catchers are better at framing pitches, and what impact that has on team ERA. The study was over a three-year period. Martin came out as one of the top three in the game at framing pitches and helping lower team ERA.

        If he’s banged up, I would like to see him rested a bit more. It’s only going to get more difficult as the season progresses.

      • steve (different one)

        Is Montero really banging on the door this year? More like rapping quietly.

        • V

          I don’t know what he could have done better in 2010 to say “hey guys, I have nothing left to learn in AAA!”. I know from personal experience that when I’m not rewarded for excellent performance, my motivation slides (and I can look for employment elsewhere, a freedom not afforded to Montero). :shrug:

    • It’sATarp

      I think he’s wearing out…too bad we don’t have a stud prospect to fill in…oh wait

  • Monteroisdinero

    Grandy has been taking pitches and seems to be more selective lately which I like. It is always nice to bat in front of a guy with 24 HR’s in June.

  • Aluis

    That stud catching prospect is nothing more than a below average catcher with a plus bat. The Yankees surely know this and are not going to bring him up to lower his trade value especially when they are looking for a number two starter behind CC before the trade deadline. If they can’t get that pitcher then there’s a good chance they might bring him up.

    • V

      Do you really think bringing him up will ‘lower his trade value’? No team is going to trade for him thinking he’s NOT a below average catcher.

  • Bob Michaels

    The Gandy man is ready to explode

  • Kosmo

    Granderson is having a fine season. But I feel his April and June are more indicative of what to expect from Granderson .He´s now hitting .261 vs LHP a current downward trend. He´s also on pace for 160-170 K season. His caught stealing ratio is no better than Gardner`s.
    He might top out at 35 HRs and score a 135 runs.Which is nothing to sneeze at.
    Why should Long get any credit ? Granderson is a good all around .270 hitter at best.
    I doubt he wins the MVP award as some of RAB bloggers have suggested.
    I´ll certainly eat my hat if by the end of the season I´m wrong.