When the Yankees acquired Curtis Granderson from the Tigers two and a half years ago, they acquired one of only 18 players with at least 50 homers and 50 steals from 2007-2009. He was a true power-speed threat, and through his first two years in New York he lived up to the billing with 65 homers and 37 steals. Last year he became just the 11th player in history to hit 40 homers while stealing 25 bases in a single season. Granderson is still smacking dingers with the best of ’em in 2012 — fourth in the game with 21 homers — but his speed game has taken a step back.
Through 68 games this season, Granderson has stolen just three bases in six attempts. Two of those steals came in back-to-back games in Detroit earlier this month and the other came against the Mariners in mid-May. This dates back to last year as well; Granderson stole 19 bases in the team’s first 100 games of 2011 but just six in the final 62 contests. In his last 128 games played, Curtis has stolen just nine bases in 13 attempts. The table below lists his success rates (SB%) and his attempt rate (SBO%) since becoming a full-time player in 2006…
Once he got his first full season under his belt, Granderson attempted a stolen base in at least 9% of his opportunities every season from 2007-2011 save for one. From 2009-2011, he ran in a whopping 12% of his his opportunities, but this year it’s down to just 7%. He isn’t running as much and his success rate has suffered, particularly in this year’s small sample.
So now the questions becomes: why isn’t Granderson running as often as he once did? We could come up with a million different reasons but we’ll never know which one(s) is correct. Maybe he just doesn’t want to wear himself out knowing he has to play center field everyday with Brett Gardner on the DL. Maybe he’s playing through a minor injury and doesn’t want to aggravate it. Maybe he just decided he’d rather focus on his power stroke and not worry about stealing bases as he gets into his early-30s. Like I said, a million possible explanations.
The good news is that Granderson is still taking the extra base — first to third on a single, etc. — in more than 50% of opportunities, which is well above the league average. It doesn’t appear to be an issue of declining speed, he just isn’t stealing many bases. It’s not a huge problem because base-running is one of the least impactful aspects of the game, but it is a big part of what Curtis Granderson has to offer. For the last 125 games or so, he just hasn’t been doing it.