Can Curtis Granderson hit 40 homers in a season? It was a question that many asked when the Yankees acquired him in the winter of 2009, and rightfully so. He had mashed 30 in 2009, and that came while playing half his games at Comerica Park in Detroit, hardly a lefty’s paradise. Most of his home run production came on the road, which led Yankees fans to wonder if the short porch could increase his home production and perhaps turn him into a true power threat. We didn’t get many good answers in 2010, but in 2011 he has surged, knocking 28 homers through his first 107 games. Getting to 40 is certainly within the realm of possibility.
Lately, though, Granderson has slipped a bit with the power. His two homers against Cleveland on July 5th gave him 25 on the year, or one every 14.68 PA. If he kept up that pace while getting roughly 675 PA on the season, he’d be on pace for about 46 homers. Lately, though, he’s slowed down a bit, hitting just three homers in his last 107 PA. But that hasn’t stopped him from being productive, as he’s hit .278/.358/.500 in that span. That includes seven doubles and two triples, to go along with 10 walks.
Doubles and triples, in fact, have played a big role in Granderson’s 2011 season. He’s not going to reach the 23 triples he hit in the 2007 season, but he could conceivably reach the 13 he hit in 2008. Even if he doesn’t, he’s already hit more than in 2009 and 2010. He’s also going to top both of those years’ doubles totals. In 54 fewer PA he has already topped last year’s doubles total, and is just five away from his 2009 total. At the same time, he’s already topped 2010’s walk total, and if he keeps up this pace he’ll set his single-season record before he gets to 700 PA.
At the start of the season, Granderson provided a welcome surprise with a power outburst. It has mostly held up, but as with most power hitters he goes through plenty of stretches where he’s not hitting the ball over the fence. But for Granderson that hasn’t meant prolonged slumps. When he’s not socking homers he’s still producing by hitting doubles and triples, and taking walks. The combination has vaulted him ahead of all other AL center fielders’ offensive production — his 32.9 runs above average leads No. 2 Jacoby Ellsbury by almost three runs. It’s hard to find a major flaw in Granderson’s game these days. He’s a big part of the reason why the Yankees find themselves in such a comfortable position currently.