Oct
24

Switching Gardner and Granderson

By

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

It’s been trendy to classify the Yankees as a poor defensive team over the last decade or so, and for a while it was absolutely true. It’s not anymore though, even if Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have lost a step over the years. Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano are rock solid at worst on the right side of the infield, Russell Martin is very good behind the plate, and the outfield features two center fielders. Yeah, the left side of the infield is lacking, but the defensive is generally solid overall.

The Yankees outfield led baseball in good ol’ UZR this season (32.3 runs saved), and they were fourth overall last year (+28.6). At 60.9 runs saved since the start of 2010, they’ve been the second best defensive outfield in baseball behind the Diamondbacks (+61.2), who on any given night are running three players out there capable of playing center field (Gerardo Parra, Chris Young, and Justin Upton). The eye test agrees with the numbers as well; Brett Gardner is a stud in the field, Curtis Granderson is solid, and although Nick Swisher can look funny out there at times, he’s solid as well.

Over the last few months, the question has arose about whether or not the Yankees are using the best outfield alignment. Because Gardner is an elite defender, shouldn’t he be playing center instead of Granderson? The advanced metrics didn’t like Curtis’ defense at all in 2011, including UZR (-5.1), DRS (-15), Total Zone (-5), and FRAA (-13.1). One year of fielding data isn’t enough though, and his three-year rates seem much more in line with the eye test (0, +3, +3, and -12.1, respectively). Gardner, on the other hand, was one of the best fielders in all of baseball this year (+25.8, +22, +3, and +13.7) and has been since 2009 (+50.9, +35, +46, and +22.6). You’re not going to find much of an argument here, Gardner is the better defensive player whether you dig the stats or not.

Now, it is important to consider context when dealing with these defensive stats. Gardner has played left field for the vast majority of the last two years, so his performance is being compared to other left fielders. As you know, most teams have some kind of plodding, bat-first guy roaming left, only able to catch balls hit right at him. Granderson is being compared to fellow center fielders, who tend to be better than left fielders on defense. Move Gardner to center, and his +20 UZR turns into a +5 or +10 UZR real fast. That’s still very good, but the numbers can be deceiving.

SG at RLYW dug deeper into the data last week, and found that yeah, the Yankees probably are better off defensively with Gardner in center and Granderson in left, but chances are the upgrade would be small. That doesn’t mean it’s not an option worth exploring though, and I think switching the two is something the Yankees should at least consider this offseason. Granderson hasn’t played an outfield position other than center since 2007, when he spend five innings in left, and all told he’s got just 59.2 career innings in left and over 8,000 in center. A mid-season switch probably would have been tough, but it’s something he can work on during the offseason and in Spring Training. It might not be a big difference, but it’s an extra five or ten runs saved over the course of the season, it will certainly help the Yankees.

Categories : Defense

119 Comments»

  1. Rich in NJ says:

    There is no downside to giving Granderson playing time in LF during ST.

  2. Jesse says:

    The only reason why Gardner should be in center field and Granderson should be in left field is because Granderson has more power and your power hitters hit in the corner spots ie: left and right field, and first and third base. And Gardner should be in center field because he’s a speed guy with little power and those type of players play in the middle ie: second base, shortstop, and center field!

    /ConventionalWisdom’d

  3. Bavarian Yankee says:

    it’s awesome to have problems like that. In the end it probably doesn’t matter at all who’s in center and we have an awesome defensive outfield anyway.

    • JU says:

      I think people underrate the effect a switch would have. In additiOn to my wholly unscientific observations of about 30 plays last yr that I think Gardner would’ve made that Grandy didn’t, you must also consider the systemic effect. Having Gardner covering more ground in cf will also improve the “RF Defense.”

  4. Drew says:

    Is it me or haven’t we seen Granderson in left as a Yankee? Maybe it was spring training when he was first traded here but i swear I’ve seen him play there before..

  5. nsalem says:

    if it ain’t broke

    • Brian in NH says:

      If we can theoretically save 5-10 defensive runs with a new alignment in the OF, that is basically one win. Sometimes one win matters, just ask Boston or Atlanta.

  6. Grover says:

    The switch is long overdue and will help the right fielder immensely.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      Agree, this would definitely help the right fielder. If the 5-10 runs saved is accurate, that’s about 2 wins, correct? Could help in a tight race, but I hope 2 wins isn’t the difference in making the playoofs/winning the division. It certainly could be, but I prefer a larger margin of victory.

    • Urban says:

      Swisher’s defensive ratings have been quite strong since Granderson showed up in CF. Not sure if it’s related.

  7. Jesse says:

    I don’t care either way to be honest. And if that’s the case, just keep it how it is. The Yankees don’t NEED to do it, so why change it?

    • Ted Nelson says:

      “The Yankees don’t NEED to do it, so why change it?”

      Why make the team better if you can? Really?

      • Freddy Garcia's 86 mph Heat says:

        This assumes that Granderson will adapt to LF after being a CF his whole career which is not a given…

        • Ted Nelson says:

          I’m saying that if you can make the team better (*if*) you never “NEED” to do it, but it’s sort of how you win more games.

          I find it very hard to believe that Granderson can play CF capably, but would get worse in LF. Might have some intangible impact on his psyche… but that’s pretty hard to measure and could cut either way (could feel less defensive pressure and/or a chip on his shoulder and play better).

          • Freddy Garcia's 86 mph Heat says:

            CF ismuch different from LF and yes, Granderson can be worse out there. Why tinker with an outfield that led baseball in UZR?

            • Ted Nelson says:

              No… it’s really not “much” different. You are standing in open space going after balls hit at you from home plate in either case. The differences are very marginal in the grand scheme of things.

              If you can find me a CF who was significantly worse in LF without age being a primary factor… I’d be shocked.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              Why tinker? To get better… To stave off decline as Granderson ages. To increase Gardner’s trade value over the next couple of years. So, yeah, to get better…

              • Freddy Garcia's 86 mph Heat says:

                To stave off decline as Granderson ages.

                Granderson will be 31 next year. I don’t think declining because of age is an issue for him. Also, any scout that sees Gardner play LF will realize he can play CF too. It’s also not like they don’t put Gardner in CF when Granderson doesn’t play…

            • Murakami says:

              CF is different, and Gardner’s weakness, tracking balls hit straight back & over his head, doesn’t come into play nearly as much.

              The Yankees are aware of this, even if the creators of UZR & their disciples aren’t.

              Gardner’s skillset lends itself very well to LF. Not to CF. Granderson could play either, but his excellent ability to run down balls hit over his head, & the Yanks’ strategic positioning of him playing shallow because of it, means the players have been put in spots where they will best succeed.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                Sorry, I forgot that I don’t know who the hell you are… so maybe enough with the self-proclaimed expert bullcrap. It’s been going on for several years on this blog, and all your shit-talking about Gardner has proven wrong.

                • Murakami says:

                  Ted, the Yankees know what I know. It’s really not that hard to see if you happened to go to games in which Gardner played CF. He doesn’t get good jumps going back, he turns the wrong way going back, I’m sorry you find that disturbing, but it’s not something that doesn’t JUMP OUT at a person who has watched the guy play live.

                  Seems you’re happy to “shit” talk, to use your expression, about Granderson, mmm? It’s not personal about Gardner (although you seem to have a very personal investment) it’s just the way it is.

                  Granderson isn’t getting replaced by anyone in CF. He’s really, really good out there.

                  • Ted Nelson says:

                    Again… your argument is “because I saw it and I say so.” There is going to be disagreement on these sorts of things (how well someone goes back on a ball, and how that compares to all the other subtleties of defense and whether that skill can improve), yet you are 100% confident that you know everything including what the Yankees know and don’t know and think and don’t think. Get over yourself. You keep making the same comments year after year. I could care less if Gardner is the LF or CF. I just care when pompous dicks make comments about how they saw something with their eyes so the discussion is over because they know everything.

                    • Murakami says:

                      Ted, you seem to have some emotional issue with this, and I’m not going to try and figure out what the hell that is. That’s on you.

                      If I keep repeating myself it’s probably because it keeps getting repeated that Gardner is somehow a better defender who’s being “held back” by Granderson.

                      Well, I have to take issue with something I think is fundamentally flawed to begin with.

                      If posts and threads would stop appearing that posit this as something we’re all supposed to take for granted and have a discussion from that assumption, I’m going to continue to point out that the premise itself makes no sense.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      My issue is with your comments. If you want to say “I think Gardner takes bad routes and isn’t actually a better CF than Granderson” I have no issue with it. If you want to say “no one else knows what they’re talking about and I know the Yankees’ internal thinking on the issue and Granderson is a FAR, FAR superior defensive CF than Gardner” that’s where we fall out. And that’s what you’ve been doing for a few years now.

                      “I’m going to continue to point out that the premise itself makes no sense.”

                      Because you said so, right?

          • JU says:

            The thought that Granderson couldn’t play an excellent LF is nonsense. I’m not trying to make this seem like a video game move, but come on people. It would also limit the effects of his lack of range (“lack of” being relative to Gardners range, of course).

            This alignment is counterintuitive, and if you can do anything to make the team better, you do it. THe way things are aligned now is tantamount to driving your Ferrari around in a parking lot, and taking your Maxima to a drag race. The Maxima is not a bad car, but you’re wasting the ability of the Ferrari in that parking lot.

      • Jesse says:

        Yeah and it’s no guarantee that Granderson will play well in left. Unless you think that. Really?

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Please name be a CF who couldn’t play LF. Please. What makes LF so difficult to play? Please enlighten me. LF is generally the spot a team stuffs one of its worst defenders or its second best CF… being a league average LF is FAR easier than a league average CF.

          • Rich in NJ says:

            Damon… ;)

          • Jesse says:

            Andruw Jones

            Average UZR in center field: 14.875
            Average UZR in left field: 1.4

            • Ted Nelson says:

              Come on… non-age related decline. That’s ridiculous. You think Jones would be a better CF right now than LF? No. He just got slower.

            • Ed says:

              UZR is a counting stat.

              Innings in CF: 14856.0
              Innings in LF: 449.2

              That’s about 1/3 of a season worth of playing time in LF vs 10 seasons worth in CF. Of course his UZR is higher in CF.

              If you take UZR/150, which is converting UZR into a rate stat, you get:

              CF: 19.0
              LF: 12.9

              He’s a well above average left fielder. And lets not forget that he plays left now because he’s no longer able to play an average CF, so he’s handled the move to LF even better than than UZR/150 suggests.

  8. UncleArgyle says:

    I really don’t think it would make a difference.

  9. Dave B says:

    This is an interesting post and I agree it looks like a negligible difference to switch them up. I can’t back this up with any hard data, but my eyes have told me that Gardner’s arm is clearly better than Grandy’s. If this is true, I think I would rather have Gardner in LF. He’s thrown out some guys on some pretty impressive throws out there, and I don’t think Grandy would have made them.

    • Mike K says:

      Better arm goes in CF. Why wouldn’t it? Longer throws to 3B, and also potentially longer to HP (since CF is deeper). The only place CF has shorter throws is to 2B, and even then it usually isn’t much.

    • Chris says:

      Gardner’s throwing was also close to terrible a season and a half ago. A lot of those outs were from people testing his arm. Chances are those runners don’t test Grandy in those situations.

      • Murakami says:

        Yup. This is a no brainer – guys don’t run on a good arm too much. It’s why a guy with one has a lot of assists his first year or so & then barely any….you’d think it’d be a no brainer, any way…

        • JU says:

          You guys are ridiculous. Granderson’s arm isn’t even close to being on Gardner’s level – with regard to accuracy or strength. Gardner was challenged more, yes, but that doesn’t alone explain it. He was throwing guys out because he totally improved his throwing mechanics, which improved his accuracy and arm strength. Watch a game one time, and use your eyes.

          You haven’t discovered the Holy Grail here…The “Teams Challenge His Arm That’s Why He Has So Many Assists” Theory is about as avant-garde as “Pitching and Defense Wins Championships.”

  10. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    No need to tamper with something that has worked all year. Gardner in left has a better arm and he has shown it by throwing out several runners at the plate this year. He is better suited for left.

  11. Monteroisdinero says:

    I wouldn’t change it. Gardner gets better momentum on his throws and has better balance in his approach to the ball. Grandy is fine even without the strongest arm. To me his biggest weakness is in judging the ball off the bat but he is still ok in center. It’s the right fielder’s arm that really stinks.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Does every thread really have to become about Montero or Golson for you?

      • Monteroisdinero says:

        Did I mention Golson’s name?

        • Jumpin' Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge) says:

          “i wouldn’t change it. Gardner gets better mOmentum on his throws and has better baLance in his approach to the ball. grandy is fine even without the StrONgest arm. to me his bigest weakness is in judging the ball off the bat but he is still ok in center. it’s the right fielder’s arm that really stinks.”

          That looks suspicious to me.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          You picked on Nick Swisher’s arm… which is what you constantly do, saying that Golson should replace Swisher because he has a better arm. You literally say that all the time. That’s the other shoe to criticizing Swisher with you to anyone who follows this blog and knows your posts.

          • Monteroisdinero says:

            I actually have lobbied for Golson to be our 4th or 5th outfielder since he is our best defender and he could play 1-2 innings of late defense 97 times a season which has some value. In this post I didn’t mention his name-you did.

            I will mention Swisher in the context of Grandy and Gardy and covering the outfield.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              You have literally said Swisher should be replaced with Golson. Not 4th or 5th… starting RF. You were all about it early in the 2011 season.

              Even as 4th OF it’s very hard to say he would have brought as much as Andruw Jones.

      • Jesse says:

        And did he mention Montero’s name in the post excluding his handle?

      • Monteroisdinero says:

        Truth is, Golson has a better arm than ANY of our outfielders but that doesn’t mean I want him playing over any of them.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Yes, you have literally gone on for days about how Golson has a better arm than Swisher so he should be playing over him. Literally.

          • Monteroisdinero says:

            Not true Ted. Swisher is a better hitter. Golson is a better fielder.

            Period.

          • Monteroisdinero says:

            What really sucked was having Austin Kearns absolutely suck last year as a 4th/5th of option. He was the guy who should not have gotten the playing time he did.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              They brought him in because he was killing it in Cleveland. When it became evident that the magic was gone, he stopped playing.

              You can’t decide based on a few rough games whether someone is in a small slump or done hitting for the rest of the season. It’s just not possible.

              • Mike Axisa says:

                Austin Kearns wasn’t killing anything in Cleveland. He had a hot six weeks to start the season then sucked he rest of the year.

                • Ted Nelson says:

                  June in Cleveland was still hotter than any month in NY, though killing it was an over-exaggeration on my part.

                  He had an sOPS+ of 109 in the first half of the season and 97 in the second half. He was a respectable bat against LHP on the season as a whole.

                  At best I think it’s fairly debatable whether Golson was a better option.

    • Murakami says:

      Monteroisdinero, Granderson’s judgment on balls he comes in on is where he is not great, but his speed coming in and where they have him positioned compensates well enough. He’s terrific on reads and jumps going back on the ball, however.

      That’s why they decided to play him shallow this year. It’s a perfect way to go about it – Granderson runs a clean, direct line to the ball going back. He’s been tremendous.

      • Monteroisdinero says:

        I agree. This was a good decision. I believe Mariano wanted him playing shallower especially when he was pitching.

      • Cliff says:

        Ridiculous. Granderson gets bad jumps on lots of balls, especially those hit directly at him, either in front or behind. That great catch in the ALDS was a direct product of his making a wrong jump, without which the catch would have been routine.

  12. Chris says:

    Granderson has a better arm, so why limit the throwing advantage by moving him to left?

    • Ted Nelson says:

      That’s one of several factors you have to consider to analyze the situation. CC Sabathia also has a better arm than Brett Gardner, but that doesn’t mean he should play CF for the Yankees.

      • Chris says:

        From what I see, they both cover a lot of ground and take decent routes on balls. If those things are pretty even, then arm strength should determine who goes where, right?

        • Ted Nelson says:

          A. “From what I see” and reality aren’t always =

          B. Your opinion that Granderson has a better arm contradicts everyone else on here’s that I’ve seen reading through the post. You still have to show that Granderson has a better arm in the first place.

          • Jesse says:

            According to Fangraphs, Curtis Granderson had a better arm than Brett Gardner in 2011 based on outfield arm runs above average. Grandy had a 4.0 outfield runs above average in center field while Gardner had a 1.3 outfield runs above average in left field. But, over the last three seasons Granderson has a 0.0 outfield runs above average in center while Gardner has a 10.5 outfield runs above average in left.

  13. steve (different one) says:

    Do we think that Gardner is taking away some of Granderson’s chances by catching balls in Granderson’s zone? Is Gardner’s presence allowing the Yankees to shade Granderson a little towards RF? Does Granderson get as much credit for making an out in Swisher’s zone than he loses if Gardner makes a play in his zone?

  14. Freddy Garcia's 86 mph Heat says:

    The way I see it is why should you tinker with a defense that was part of a 97 win team and one that led baseball in UZR?

  15. Joel says:

    Gardner can cover a little more ground and has the better of the two arms. He also covers left center extremely well, which is a great benefit to Granderson, who has to cover right Center. I say leave it as it.

    The Yanks won 97 games last year on the way to winning the ALE. If the proposed switch gave them 2 more games, it doesn’t prove nor mean anything. Starting pitching, and remembering to bring their bats to the post season is what they need to concentrate on.

    • Murakami says:

      Covering “more ground” is not only horizontal. He does not cover more ground vertically, because of his problems judging balls he has to go straight back for. Granderson is so much better at this it isn’t funny. What’s more, far from it being a handicap, Granderson is friggin’ great at it – it’s why the Yankees chose to have him play a more shallow CF this season, right out from Spring Training.

      They wanted to take away that “doubles” territory while not giving up much to the wall.

      • Cliff says:

        And yet Granderson stunk it up this year, repeatedly horribly misplaying the ball and registering one of the worst CF defensive performances in the league.

  16. BK2ATL says:

    I say leave it as it is. No need to mess with Granderson’s head right now. He’s finally got it figured out at the plate. All he’s known for the last few years in defensive CF.

    Gardner’s arm isn’t much more stronger and accurate, but it certainly plays very well in LF. Either Gardner or Granderson will be shaded more to right-center than true CF no matter who’s out there.

    Gardner-Granderson-Swisher have established a very nice chemistry out there. No need to mess with it.

    • Yankonymous says:

      +1

      “Hey, Curtis, this year, you exceeded expectations, carried us (at times) offensively and had an MVP-type season…buuuttt…UZR says Gardner’s a better fielder than you, so, you’d better learn to play LF or else.”

    • Murakami says:

      We have a weak arm OF in general. Granderson does not have a great arm, either. Gardner’s is not a good arm, for heaven’s sake. He’s made some nice, accurate throws from left, which the runner hasn’t counted on. That’s good for us. But in CF, both guys don’t scare anyone. You’ll see a runner take 2nd on Granderson and on Gardner, when he’s been out there.

      Mason Williams, if he continues to progress, looks like the complete package: arm, reads, running down the ball over his head, sealing the gaps, coming in, etc. He’s got a big arm, too.

      • BK2ATL says:

        To be honest, Grandy and Gardner have gunned down their fair share of runner. Check the stats. Neither are as bad as Bernie Williams, at the end, or Johnny “Sheila” Damon. Hehehe!!!!! Remember those days?

        Mason Williams is a long ways away from the Bronx. From what I’m reading, he’s poised to make big jumps pretty quickly. Let’s just hope.

        In the meanwhile, if Matt Kemp hits the FA market next year, he’d look really good in RF if mgmt decided to go that way, instead of Swisher. I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with it.

        We could have an OF of Williams-Grandy-Kemp-Gardner in 2013/14. Now that’s a big-boy OF there.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          But… but… but… Murakami saw the weak arms with his/her own eyes and his/her eyes are advanced cyborg eyes that can compute whether or not every single OF in baseball would have or wouldn’t have made a better throw.

  17. Jumpin' Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge) says:

    Not something I spend a lot of time thinking about. I see the merits. I question how much of an improvement can be squeezed out of it.

    These are nice problems to be talking about.

  18. TogaSean says:

    Bottom line, although it COULD work and add a win over the course of the season, this isn’t an area that needs tinkering. The starting rotation is where the attention needs to be paid. To me the potential upside does not outweigh the potential downside to justify this defensive switch.

  19. Murakami says:

    Dinero’s not exactly going out on a limb, there. Golson has a very good arm. That’s it’s better than any current everday OF is a given.

  20. Filppula51 says:

    Remember the two catches grandy makes in the playoffs Gardner doesn’t make those grandy has more finesse I think it would be a kick to the temple switching them

  21. Murakami says:

    Ted, what I meant to say is, if threads and posts would stop appearing that just assume I agree with the premise, I would not have a need to refute them.

    As far as the Yankees knowing what I know, uh, are you saying you don’t believe they decided to have Granderson play a more shallow CF this season? No disrespect intended (although you called me a dickhead, lol), but do you watch the games?

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Again, I have no problem with you disagreeing or expressing your opinions/analysis. I have a problem with you deciding you know more than everyone else and everyone else is definitely wrong and you are definitely right “because you saw it with your own eyes.”

      • Murakami says:

        Well, Ted, I think that’s pretty disingenuous. I remember you, and you were all nails and fangs when I first commented that Gardner’s defense was short of stellar in CF.

        This “own eyes” thing, too, is a bit over done. Originally, it made sense to ask fans to check their own emotions in making judgments on what they conclude from a small sample, as in so-and-so is a “great” hitter because he came through the three times I was at the park so he must be a great hitter & he must be a clutch one, etc.

        That was a dose of healthy. But it doesn’t apply to watching the same faulty inclination from a defender over and over again for a few seasons.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Again I have no connection to Gardner, I just don’t like your comments.

          No, the eyes and brain thing absolutely does apply here. Measuring defensive performance is extremely complex. Simply deciding that because you like the way one guy goes back on a ball he is better at a position isn’t the only thing to consider.

          • Murakami says:

            Wow, Ted. It’s not what I “like” or “flavor of the day” type thing in terms of tracking the baseball.

            I played CF all through youth ball, high school, and in college. I have a pretty good handle on these defensive “complexities” as you call them, but as you also have failed to even discuss. You don’t “like” my comments, that’s really neither here nor there. Try actually refuting a point or two, sometime. Have a good evening.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              I don’t like your comments because you assume that you know more about baseball than everyone else and that your analysis of OF routes is better than anyone else’s.

              I am not insulting you by saying you can’t keep track of all the complexities in your brain. No human can. That’s why I wish you’d stop claiming that you can. It’s a matter of feet and fractions of a second over hundreds of a game. You might say that Granderson made a great diving catch because he got a slightly better jump and ran a slightly better route… while I might counter by saying Gardner wouldn’t have made a diving catch because he would have been there to make it look easy with his superior speed. There’s no way to verify what you’re saying unless you at least have video evidence, which you have no offered.

              I am refuting not only your points but your entire premise that you have the mental capacity to calculate the difference between fractions of a second of jump on a ball vs. fractions of a second in footspeed vs. slightly different trajectory on routes vs. velocity and distance and direction of throws on plays that you can’t compare directly based on your memory of games several years ago. Especially when you readily point to other flaws in Granderson’s defense… how can you measure which have more impact on the Yankees over the course of a season?

              You know that balls are hit right over your head in LF, too, right? You keep talking about years ago when Gardner played CF. He’s played some games in CF the last two years too, and he’s had to go straight back on balls in LF.

              And don’t pull out the “I played the game” card. That’s bushleague. I played the game too, hotshot. Being able to play the game doesn’t say anything about your ability to calculate thousands of variables in your head simultaneously.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Basically… you don’t like that people assume Gardner is better without discussing the subject, so you just do the opposite?

  22. Murakami says:

    Gardner doesn’t make the first play, but he could have made the second one. His weakness is going back, but is strength is going coast to coast.

  23. Darren says:

    Chance of Girardi making this switch? 0%

    There’s no way in hell he messes with Granderson’s head by taking him out of centerfield for the very, very small chance that Gardner might be better. That’s an extremely debatable point that could just as easily swing in the other direction and hurt the Yankees.

    Can someone please explain to me the analysis that can show whether a throw was strong/weak, on target/not on target and that doesn’t depend solely on whether a runner advanced?

  24. Tom says:

    The one thing worth considering is that the Yankees seem intent on playing a shallow CF (a strategy which I like), and it appears (at least perception wise for me) that Gardner is far better at going back on flyballs and that might be Granderson’s weakest link on defense.

    It probably doesn’t make much of a difference one way or the other, but I think some of the doubles/triples over Granderson’s head are run down by Gardner. While that still can happen in LF, it is a bit less likely (fewer chances + gap to LF wall until you get to left center isn’t as big)

    The other consideration is that Girardi will pinch hit for Gardner (or sit him against a tough lefty) but not Granderson, so he might be more reluctant to bounce Granderson back and forth when Girardi knows he’s playing full time.

  25. Urban says:

    It seems to make sense to flip the two if indeed it could save five or six runs and lead to a potential additional win. Unfortunately, it’s hard to predict.

    From what I read when this was discussed during the season, the Yankees treat their defense holistically, and position all three OFers as a defensive unit, less concerned about indvidual defensive ratings as opposed to how they work collectively. Overall, collectively, the Yankees OF rates well. The Yankees also employ their own advanced stats people who develop their proprietary and Yankee-specific data.

    In other words, they may have no issue with Granderson’s defensive ratings, or based on their own data, they may be seeing the same thing we are from the freely available data, leaving them with two choices: Reposition him based on their own data, or use this as an opportunity to move Gardner to center. I’m sure it’s not Granderson’s preference, but he doesn’t seem like the type who would make an issue out of it.

    Overall, I’m agnostic on this. Granderson has rated as a plus OF under most of the defensive systems through most of his career, and as recently as last season he was +6 on UZR.

  26. duzzi23 says:

    After the season Granderson had I wouldn’t mess with him changing positions. Plus his play in CF during game 4 was huge. It’s not like we have tony womack out there where we need to swap him and Gardner.

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