The quietly consistent Curtis Granderson

Pitching problem? Don't let the fielders off that easily
Triple-A stadium situation pushed Bill Hall away from Yankees
(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Everyone knows the story by now. Curtis Granderson was struggling during his first season as a Yankee before a two-day, mid-August crash course with hitting coach Kevin Long transformed him into one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. Coincidentally enough, those mechanical changes came in Texas during a series against the Rangers, exactly where the Yankees are right now. Since Granderson made the adjustments, he’s hit .264/.364/.559 with more homers (61) than anyone not named Jose Bautista.

The Grandyman is off to a similar start in 2012, hitting .281/.387/.609 through his first 75 plate appearances of the season. Obviously his three-homer game against the Twins last week really put a charge into his numbers, but it’s not like he hasn’t contributed to the offense outside of that one game. In fact, Granderson has reached base in each of the last 15 games after taking an 0-for-5 on Opening Day. He’s reached base at least twice in 11 of those 15 games and has been on base 29 times in the team’s 16 games. Only 13 players have reached base more times this season.

I thought Granderson’s two-run single in the first inning last night (video) was a perfect example of something he wouldn’t have been able to do prior to his work with Long. A tough left-hander in Derek Holland had him in a 1-2 count and busted him inside with a 94 mph fastball, a pitch designed to do two things: chew up the lefty hitter on the inner half and set up the breaking ball away. Curtis would have had no chance at an offering like that two years ago, but now he’s quick enough to get around on that inside fastball to fight it off for a  single. The homers get all of the attention, but it’s at-bats like this that really show how much Granderson has changed as a hitter.

Derek Jeter‘s hot start has rightfully garnered just about all of the attention this month, though Alex Rodriguez‘s struggles against lefties, Mark Teixeira‘s attempt to assuage his pull-happy approach, and Robinson Cano‘s slow start have also been noticeable. Then there’s Granderson, who has quietly and productively plugged along regardless of where he’s placed in the order. I can’t bring myself to say that he flies under the radar in this lineup because he is such a huge part of the team, but I do think his steadiness has been taken for granted to a certain degree.

email
Pitching problem? Don't let the fielders off that easily
Triple-A stadium situation pushed Bill Hall away from Yankees
  • jsbrendog

    seriously, this is why it enrages me that joey g plays lineup shuffleboard with a lefty on the mound and puts swisherin the 2 hole and moves granderson down. you want your best hitters to get the most abs.

    please leave granderson alone in the 2 hole.

    flapjack.

    • LiterallyFigurative

      I prefer Grandy in the 2 hole as well. To me, it gives him more chances to be dangerous. Hitting between Jeter and Robbie/Alex gets him better pitches to hit.

      • CountryClub

        Maybe so. But batting 6th isn’t the worst thing in the world in this lineup. Still plenty of men on base in front of him.

    • CP

      Except Swisher is a better hitter against LHP than Granderson.

    • http://twitter/TheRealJeromeS Jerome S.

      It doesn’t irritate me that much – either way, he tends to come up with men on base. On this team, batting order doesn’t make a real difference.

  • CountryClub

    Most of us thought this was a pretty good trade when it was made. We figured he’d play solid D, steal 25+ bases and hit 20+ HRs. And if he did all of that he’d be one of the better CFers in the game. But he has obviously exceeded expectations. Is he the 2nd best CFer today? No worse than 3rd, unless I’m forgetting someone.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      There’s Kemp and McCutchen. Can’t think of any others I’d take over Granderson without hesitation.

      • CountryClub

        McCutchen has the brighter future because of his youth. But is he better than Granderson right now?

        • bpdelia

          No…no he is not. To make that claim you would have to place great faith in uzr and while its the best we have its no where reliable enough to say you would prefer mccutchen to grandetsons 35 to 40 hr power with great on base skills and fantastic base running.

        • vin
        • BK2ATL

          I don’t agree that he’s better than Granderson right now.

          Maybe it’s a wash. Defensively, McCutchen might be better. Offensively, even with the strikeouts, Granderson is much better. He’s shown more power than McCutchen and is becoming one of the most dangerous hitters in MLB, period.

          Kemp is on another level altogether.

      • RetroRob

        I certainly would have been interested in McCutchen if he was a free agent, but I wouldn’t rate him ahead of Grandy today.

        Even UZR wasn’t a big fan of McCutchen up until last season when they repositioned him. Some of Grandy’s dip in UZR might also be related to positioning. Don’t know.

        Give me the 40-HR lefty bat.

    • Johnny O

      Yeah it was a good trade but Ian Kennedy had all the winz!!!

      • Havok9120

        Nah. That’s nothing compared to Grandy’s RBIs.

        The only think that can effectively counter a pretty silly stat in the MSMs mind? Another silly stat.

  • DJ4K

    Loved that hit last night.

    “Cause I’m Kurtis Blow and I want ya to know that these are the breaks”

  • BK2ATL

    Nice article.

    Granderson doesn’t get his props, but he’s an integral part of why we’re winning right now when the heart of the lineup has been inconsistent so far this year. Last night was a great clutch hit with RISP, and started our scoring run that staked CC to a decent lead. The 3 HR game was impressive.

    I hope he keeps it up throughout the season and makes it extremely hard for anyone to imagine our team without him. I’d be okay with signing him to a 3-5 yr extension AND locking up Cano. Right now, let’s give it up for the Grandyman!!!

  • DJ4K

    Play more shallow Curtis. Listen to Mo. You are much better going back on balls then coming in. Your throwing arm would like that too.

  • Bonnie Parker

    Curis really is something sort of grandish. He’ll be right there in the MVP race with Jete but if it’s a toss up it’ll end up going to Jete.

  • SMK

    Curtis stings the ball. He’s still swing-and-miss prone, but his power is amazing considering his size.

  • Darren

    I love the way he comes back to the dugout after a dinger or a great play. Kind of head down and shoulders hunched, almost a little sheepish. In general, he’s just a cool dude.

  • RetroRob

    A lefty, power-hitting CFer, who went deep 40+ times last year, leading the league in RBIs and runs scored falling under the radar? Yup. Strangely you’re right. Something about the media, and even Yankees fans, who don’t seem to appreciate what they have in center. It’s not just Curtis. Bernie was under appreciated for almost his entire career. It wasn’t until he was near the end that fans seem to embrace him. Maybe any CFer short of Mantle and DiMaggio is viewed as ho-hum.

    • vinny-b

      yes. It is strange. Very strange.

      well, all the better. He remains my favorite Yankee (other then Rivera)

  • vinny-b

    I hope Yankees sign him.

    Cano? He is 2nd priority. Sorry, i like Granderson better

    • http://twitter/TheRealJeromeS Jerome S.

      Ouch… I don’t know, I feel like Cano would be harder to replace.
      Looking at who’s available in the majors and the minors, I think it would be far easier to recuperate the loss of Granderson than the loss of Cano. Of course, I’d rather keep both. And I’d bet Granderson ages better.

    • LiterallyFigurative

      ……….until Cano is hitting .310 and Granderson strikes out 3 times in a row.

    • LK

      I might agree, depending on cost; the reality is that giving either one a huge contract for their decline phase has a chance to end very poorly. With the state of the position prospects in the high minors, there may not be much of a choice.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I’ve got a softer spot for the homegrown guy, as well as thinking Cano’s still the more valuable piece.