Aug
15

The Curtis Granderson Slump

By

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The Yankees went through a pretty rough slump a few weeks ago, starting out on the West Coast in Oakland and carrying over into the last homestand. They have started to get their mojo back though, most notably battling back to split a four-game series with the Tigers in Detroit after losing the first two games. They’ve won nine of their last 13 games overall, and two of those four losses came at the hands of Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander. That will happen from time to time.

One player who has most certainly not gotten his mojo back is Curtis Granderson. The 31-year-old outfielder is stuck in a 1-for-18 rut at the moment, but this is something that goes back much further than the last week. Granderson is hitting just .205/.266/.419 since the All-Star break and .215/.306/.415 in his last 281 plate appearances (!) overall. That dates back to early-June, so we’re creeping farther and farther away from small sample size territory. After hitting a robust .262/.364/.552 (146 wRC+) last year, Grandy is down to just .236/.330/.480 (116 wRC+) with roughly six weeks to go this year.

I’ve noticed two things about Curtis during this slide that may or may not be meaningful in terms of the root cause for this slump. For one, he’s just flat out missing hittable pitches. We all know about the strikeout issues — 28.2 K% on the year and 30.6 K% during this 281 PA sample — but I’m talking specifically about pitches out over the plate that he’s either fouling off, putting into play weakly, or just whiffing on. Here is a look at Granderson’s strike zone plot during his 281 PA slump, courtesy of Joe Lefkowitz’s site

There’s an awful lot going on here and a whole bunch of clutter, but just focus on the blue — those are the swings and misses. There’s a whole bunch in the dirt from breaking balls and whatnot, but there’s also a bunch right out over the plate. This isn’t any kind of definitive proof that he’s missing hittable pitches, but it certainly jives with the theory. Granderson has always swung and missed a bunch, that’s just who he is, but some of those pitches — particularly the fastballs, the blue +’s — he should be hitting hard somewhere.

Secondly, Curtis doesn’t seem to be pulling the ball as much as usual. Vince Mercogliano made the same observation last night, so at least I know my eyes aren’t playing tricks on me. Last season, Granderson pulled 53.6% of his balls in play to right field while 30.1% went back up the middle and and just 16.2% went the other way to left. As you’d expect, he did most of his damage yanking the ball to right — 304 wRC+ pull, 120 wRC+ center, 26 wRC+ left. This season he’s at 50.4% pulled (196 wRC+), 30.0% center (63 wRC+), and 19.5% opposite (64 wRC+). Not much of a difference in terms of quantity, but he isn’t getting the same kind of results on balls back up the middle. Here’s a look at his spray chart during this 281 PA slide, courtesy of Texas Leaguers

That is a pretty evenly distributed spray chart, especially for a guy who is — or at least should be — a dead pull hitter. Earlier this season I noted that Granderson was hitting some more line drive singles to shallow left, but I don’t think this is a case of a guy making a conscious decision to try to go the other way without getting the results, a la Mark Teixeira back in April and May. Granderson just seems to be fouled up, either physically, mechanically, mentally, whatever. He certainly isn’t getting the results he has been getting for the last two calendar years, and you can see that something is off by watching him everyday. You don’t need to be a hitting guru to see when someone isn’t right, but you do need to be one to fix it.

Granderson’s slump is something that predates his ill-fated stint as a leadoff hitter, and is something he and hitting coach Kevin Long need to figure out relatively soon. The work they did in August 2010 was almost literally an overnight fix; he went from being a straight platoon guy to an MVP-caliber hitter in the span of like, 36 hours. That isn’t the norm though, these things tend to take some time. The Yankees are scheduled to face three real tough lefties — Derek Holland, Franklin Morales, and Jon Lester — from Thursday through Saturday, so that might be a good time to give Curtis some time off just to recharge the batteries. He can get off his feet (he’s played the field a ton this year due to Brett Gardner‘s injury, so maybe he’s just worn out), clear his head a bit, and hit the cages hard in an effort to get back to being the impact hitter he’s expected to be. Right now, he’s close to a dead spot in the lineup.

Categories : Analysis, Offense

86 Comments»

  1. Dela G says:

    I firmly believe that the yankees should pay swish and let grandyman walk. I don’t see his style of play going well from ages 33-36 (which i believe a 3 year extension is the most he’d get). I think the young outfielders in the system will be ready to go by 2014

  2. Hyshai says:

    Not because of this slump, but do you think that NYY will shop Granderson in the offseason (with 189 looming) and sign a lesser CF (such as Michael Bourn)?

    • Joey V says:

      Bourn isn’t going to be much cheaper (if at all, at this point) than Grandy, he’s having a helluva season. (118 wRC+, 5.5 WAR, .292/.353/.428, 31 stolen bases)

  3. Robinson Tilapia says:

    This should be a lovely thread.

    I just hope the fix is as easy and quick this time around. An effective Curtis Granderson is a beautiful thing.

  4. Eddard says:

    Let him walk. Robbie Cano needs to be signed. Granderson is not a lead off hitter, not sure why Joe thought he was. He should be moved down to 8th upon Alex’s return. It’s boom or bust, K or HR and that’s just not going to cut it. He’s Giambi in CF.

  5. Big Member says:

    We need to trade Granderson in the offseason for a solid, middle of the rotation starter and sign Hamilton. Granderson is clearly declining very fast, his star years are well behind him. Let him strike out 200 times in Atlanta. Hamilton will hit 45 HR in Yankee Stadium and we’ll finally get a real slugger in the line up

    • Dropped Third says:

      Cano isnt a real slugger?

    • Ethan says:

      Hamilton will command an absolutely minimum of 6 years, 120m probably more. He’s going to likely age very badly, is primarily a LF and is very injury prone. Back in 2008 I had hoped the Yankees might be able to trade for Hamilton but at this point I don’t think he’s worth it.

      • Cris Pengiucci says:

        Well stated. I fully agree.

        • I am not the droids you're looking for... says:

          I don’t. I think the likeliest scenario is a 4 year deal with an extremely high (eg 25mm+) AAV. I know it only takes one drunken sailor but I don’t think even the newly profligate Dodgers will give him 5 guaranteed years.

          (I could also see a 4 year deal with say two option years that vest based on PAs in the immediately prior years – if Hamilton is open to this, I could see a handful of teams getting involved).

          Between his health, his history and more recently his attitude it seems to me like this is one guy whom MLB will view uniformly, sort of like the way Bonds was treated when not a single team would sign him at the end.

          • I am not the droids you're looking for... says:

            Btw to be clear not comparing them as players. Am comparing them wrt the way it felt almost collusional the way Bonds was handled.

    • Get Phelps Up says:

      Some other team can overpay for Hamilton.

    • Wow says:

      Just remember to turn on the ‘Force Trade’ option.

    • jjyank says:

      If you’re concerned about potential declines, Hamilton is not the answer.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      *spits out lunch*

    • Mike says:

      Yes, let’s sign another aging veteran to a huge contract that’s a lock to miss 20-30 games if not more every year due to random injuries. Not to mention the personal issues. I think Hamilton is best suited in Texas in a familiar setting, with 189 looming the Yankees don’t need to get involved with big FA deals either.

    • Evan3457 says:

      I thought somebody hit 40 HR for the Yanks last year; can’t remember who it is. Maybe it’s the same guy who has 30 HR this season.

  6. Cris Pengiucci says:

    Granderson is so hard to read going forward. Based on 2010, he’s able to change his approach. If he does so again, he could be solid to outstanding the remainder of this year and next. So, what happens in ’14? I want him to turn it around for obvious reasons. Not sure I want the Yankees to resign him after the ’13 season, espcially considering what appears to be declining defense this season. I hope Gardner comes back and then remains healthy, as I think I’d prefer Granderson somewhere other than CF.

    Also, I’m not sure where he should bat. I’d have him ahead of Ibanez/Jones, but the way Chavez is hitting, if he’s in the line up, I might be inclined to have him hit behind Chavez (which could put him in the 7th hole and I’m not sure I like that). It’s a tough call made ven tougher knowing that Girardi doesn’t like to have multiple lefties in a row.

  7. Dropped Third says:

    Trade Grandy with a few prospects and get Upton

    • jjyank says:

      Why would the D-Backs want Granderson?

      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        That’s still a better trade proposal than the “Grandy for Heyward straight up” that I saw the other day.

      • Slugger27 says:

        they wouldnt.

      • blake says:

        They wouldn’t most likely….but you could deal for Upton and trade Granderson to recoup some of the prospects you traded for Upton.

        They should offer Granderson a cheapo extension this winter to play LF going forward….if he declines they should shop him and see what they could get…..he’ll be 33 when he hits free agency and I don’t think will age all that well..

        • jjyank says:

          That sounds nice, but why would Granderson take a cheap extension? At 33, he’ll likely be looking for one last big pay day.

          • blake says:

            by cheap I mean reasonable….and it just depends on what that number is…..but to extend him early for me it would have to be pretty team friendly given his age….didn’t say he’d accept it…just that I would consider offering him something I felt would be a good deal and if he didn’t take it then I would see what I could get for him via trade.

            • Cris Pengiucci says:

              While I’m currently leaning more towards re-signing Swish for 3 years (if he’ll aceept something like a 3/33 deal) and taking the one year option on Granderson, I could also see the Yankees playing Grandy & Swish against each other by offering Grandy an extension and Swish a contract and seeing who bites first.

              I’ve stated this before, I know, but it just seems to make sense from a business standpoint, at least to me.

    • Joey V says:

      I agree with this. Package him and try to get Upton in pinstripes, who knows maybe we get lucky and Swish takes a little paycut.

    • Big Member says:

      Not out of question but I think Arizona needs bullpen arms. How about…

      Yanks get: Upton, Montero

      Arizona gets: Joba, Martin, Logan, Nunez, Granderson, Sanchez

      Yanks no longer need Logan once Feliciano is healthy. Yanks add Sanchez to Martin in order to upgrade with Montero.

  8. Heisenberg's Hat says:

    Granderson’s swing looks very long to me, at least right now. He needs to cut it down just a bit. I’m not saying he should start chopping the ball on the ground, just not take a huge looping swing every time up. He’s swinging at a ton of pitches in the dirt, because he commits too early and swings too long. And his two-strike approach has to change. He swings just as hard 0-2 as he does 2-0, and I’d be willing to bet he hasn’t hit many 0-2 homers in his career (not that many players have).

  9. Brian S. says:

    We’re trading for Alex Gordon AND Justin Upton this winter so we won’t need Swisher or Granderson anymore.

  10. LiterallyFigurative says:

    Interesting pickle the Yankees find themselves in.

    Swisher is FA this offseason. I have a hard time seeing him sign some below market contract just to stay here. He would at least be looking for Jason Bay money 4/66.

    Granderson is a power hitter in a sport where 40 HR hitters are becoming more and more rare. But he is hit amd miss defensively, doesn’t run, strikes out a ton and is at best a .260 hitter. What would his market be in the 2013 offseason? At bottom he’d be looking for Adam Jones money 5/85. Even with the likely position change to LF, he possesses the power attribute very few available guys have.

    Reading this site, there is little faith in Melky Mesa or Zoilo Almonte.

    Slade/Mason/Tyler Austin are at best 2 years away (mid 2014).

    Noone wants to pay Hamilton for fear of him breaking down, even if he were obtainable for 5/120. Short of the one dumb owner, he’s not going to get a longer contract.

    Noone wants to pay Melky for fear of the glass slipper falling off at the introductory press conference, even though he’s had back to back really strong seasons.

    So what’s the solution to the outfield?

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I think Swisher’s first domino that will have to fall before we even know. If he’s easier to re-sign than anticipated, this will all be for naught. If not…..I have no clue. Everything right now is pure speculation.

  11. V says:

    It’s almost like… playing everyday, with no one to spell you, tires you out?

    Is this a miraculous observation that the Yankees don’t seem to understand?

  12. gord jaworski says:

    hamilton would never be able to play for the yankees, the pressure would turn him back into an addick also injures would be a consern. upton won,t even come to new york because of the pressure, and his shoulder is a major consern. swisher should be resigned,he is a great team player and gives you 25hrs and 90rbi’s.granderson looks tired,maybe a couple of day’s off would help,they need to get him right or they are in a ton of trouble. since the end of may kuroda is by far their best pitcher, probally their best chance of beating another teams ace in the playoffs,c.c has not been able to do it. with c.c.starting they are always 1 down.

  13. OMG! Bagels! says:

    Is this thread about trading Curtis or fixing Curtis?

    Curtis needs to rest. It’s just about as simple as it’s ever going to get. I was hoping Joe Girardi would say that in post game interviews but he keeps saying Curtis will work out of it.

    I think Curtis needs to SIT out of it, not work out of it.

    Why is this not simple and basic logic?

  14. Andruw's Smile says:

    I think the Yankees wind up re-signing Swish and Cano, and letting Grandy walk while shifting Gardner to CF and finding a cheaper corner guy to fill in that power. These things also tend to work themselves out. I think by the end of 2013 the Yankees OF picture looks a lot different than it does now.

  15. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Remember when we were wondering about Melky’s price in the off-season coming down? It just did.

    • YanksFanInBeantown says:

      Wow. I’m legitimately so sad right now.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Oh, I’m crushed. I love the dude. I immediately texted my wife, who still wears her Yankee Melky shirt.

        I said this in the….Derek Lowe thread, but I officially would consider taking him on a one-year deal for him to rebuild his value. He could be a super-fourth outfielder.

        Dude just lost himself tens of millions of dollars.

        • LiterallyFigurative says:

          Do the Giants even have 50 more regular season games? If they make the postseason, I would assume he wouldn’t be eligible or able to work off however many games he would have left on the suspension.

          I was pulling for Melky and have been since he first came up in 2006. This hurts his financial future and his image.

          No time is good to get suspended for PED’s, but getting suspended now is worse than if it had happened early in the season. It’ll be the first thing people remember when he shops his wares in Free Agency.

          • Andruw's Smile says:

            46 more Regular Season Games. So he’d miss the first four playoff games. Really interesting conundrum they’re in, because he’d need to be on the DS roster to be on the NLCS roster, correct?

            • LiterallyFigurative says:

              I would say you are correct. In that case they would (at least logically) leave him off the DS roster, then add him for the CS roster if they get that far. Hard to play 1 man short in the NL in hopes of a guy coming back for a game 5 you aren’t sure you may even reach.

    • captain kiwi says:

      zing

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