Curtis Granderson’s Missing Steals

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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…

Year Age Tm SBO SB CS SB% SBO%
2006 25 DET 298 8 5 62% 4%
2007 26 DET 292 26 1 96% 9%
2008 27 DET 278 12 4 75% 6%
2009 28 DET 241 20 6 77% 11%
2010 29 NYY 154 12 2 86% 9%
2011 30 NYY 232 25 10 71% 16%
2012 31 NYY 90 3 3 50% 7%
9 Yrs 1653 107 32 77% 8%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/21/2012.

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.

Get discounted Subway Series tickets with ScoreBig

Despite having dropped their last two, the Yankees are in the midst of a torrid hot streak and pull into CitiField for the 2nd half of the 2012 Subway Series looking to stay undefeated against the Mets this season. With both NYC teams still in contention entering the first weekend of the summer, the average ticket price for this series is a pretty steep $176/ticket. But thanks to our friends at TiqIQ and their partnership with ScoreBig, we have a special offer that can net you some solid savings on top of ScoreBig’s already discounted inventory. By clicking the image above and signing up for ScoreBig, for this weekend only, with a purchase of $200 or more you’ll save $50 off your transaction in addition to ScoreBig’s initial discount. Plus, as with all ScoreBig deals, you won’t be subject to any ancillary service or shipping charges like you would be with other sellers. So act fast: you’ll only have til Noon on Thursday to Make an Offer on tickets for Friday night’s game and deals for this weekend’s games end at Noon on Friday.

Braves win Homerun Derby, beat Yanks 10-5

For the first time since the losing two of three in Anaheim, the Yankees have lost a series. The Braves beat New York at their own game by clubbing homer after homer en route to a blowout win.

(Al Bello/Getty Images)

Homerun Hughes

Phil Hughes‘ homerun problem isn’t exactly a secret. His last start against the Nationals was the first time all year he did not allow a dinger in an outing, but he more than made up for it on Wednesday. Atlanta tagged him for a career-high four homers allowed in 4.1 innings, a two-run shot by Freddie Freeman and solo jacks by Jason Heyward, Martin Prado, and David Ross. It was crazy hot this afternoon and the ball was flying out of the park, a disaster combination for Phil.

The end result was six runs in those 4.1 innings, only the second time Hughes has allowed more than two runs in his last eight starts and more than four runs in his last eleven starts. He did manage to strike out five while walking zero, but that’s hardly any kind of consolation. Phil has pitched very well of late and fell off the wagon for a start, hopefully it’s nothing more than that.

Homerun Yankees

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

It wasn’t just the Braves that were teeing off, the Yankees hit four dingers of their own. Derek Jeter hit Tommy Hanson’s first pitch out of the yard for a solo blast, his fourth leadoff homer of the season. Doesn’t that seem like an awful lot? Four leadoff homers seems like a season’s worth. Eric Chavez clubbed a fifth inning solo blast off Hanson, then Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano went back-to-back off Atlanta’s starter to open the sixth and end his afternoon. They were all solo homers though, and as they say, those won’t kill you. Four usually does though. Usually.

Where’s Andruw? Part Two

For the second straight game, Raul Ibanez was left in to face the left-handed Jonny Venters with men on-base in the late innings of a close ballgame. He struck out to end the seventh on Tuesday night, then grounded into a double play on Wednesday afternoon. The Yankees were down two runs, the first three batters of the inning reached base, but Andruw Jones was nowhere to be found*. We’re not splitting atoms here, Ibanez is terrible against same-side pitchers and shouldn’t face them, especially in close games.

* Jones did eventually pinch-hit for Ibanez with one man on in the eighth, after the deficit had swelled from two runs to four. Annoying.

Blown Open

The Yankees were down just one as late as the eighth inning, but the Braves blew things open off the bullpen. Chavez booted a potential double play ball and not only allowed a run to score in that eighth inning, but it extended the rally. One batter later, Heyward hit his second homer of the game, a two-run shot to really blow things open. The usually reliable Cory Wade and Boone Logan really let things get out of hand that inning. The deficit grew from one-run to five and that was that.

You can have third base, we’ll take the 1996 and 1999 World Championships. (Al Bello/Getty)

Leftovers

The nine total homers are the most in New Stadium history — eight had been done three previous times and not since 2010 — and tied for the most in the history of any Yankee Stadium. That’s a long time. Hughes and Hanson became the 11th pair of opposing starters to each allow four homers in a game in baseball history. This was the first time the Yankees were involved. Again, that’s a long time. The Yankees hit four homers and lost for the first time since the third game of last season, another Hughes start.

Hughes, Wade, Logan, and Freddy Garcia all got smacked around pretty well, but Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada really held the Braves down in the middle inning. Eppley retired all three men he faced — one strikeout, one grounder, one fly ball — and Rapada struck out all four dudes he faced. One of them was even a righty, so hooray for that. He hasn’t allowed a hit since the last Rays series, a span of 20 batters faced. Bravo.

Every hitter in the starting lineup had a hit except for Ibanez and Jayson Nix while Jeter (homer and a walk), Cano (homer and a single), Chavez (homer and a walk), and Russell Martin (double and two walks) each reached base multiple times. I’m sure you were expecting a massive RISPFAIL number, but they were only 1-for-4. Lots of solo homers will do that.

Fun fact: this is the first time all the season the Yankees allowed double-digit runs. Bet you didn’t see that coming. They had allowed nine runs just twice, once in the massive Fenway Park comeback win and then once during that nightmare series in Anaheim. The Yankees have lost two in a row after winning ten straight and are still 20-6 in their last 26 games. I’ll take it.

Box score, WPA Graph & Standings

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, ESPN the updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

The Yankees are off on Thursday then will head to Flushing for the final series of interleague play, a three-game set with the Mets. Left-handers Andy Pettitte and Jon Niese will start Friday evening. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to head to the game.

Cust and Branyan homer in Triple-A loss

Bernie Williams will manage the World Team during the Futures Game next month, the Yankees announced. That’ll be neat. George Brett will run the USA Team since the game is being played in Kansas City. The rosters will be announced tomorrow and I have to think someone from the OF Mason Williams, OF Tyler Austin, and C Gary Sanchez trio will represent the Yankees. Each organization gets at least one representative but no more than two. I’d go Austin and Sanchez given the seasons they’re having, but that’s just me.

Meanwhile, OF Jake Cave is unlikely to play this year due to his knee cap injury. If he does play, it probably won’t be until Instructional League after the season.

Triple-A Empire State (5-3 loss to Louisville) apparently they won’t be known as the Yankees much longer
CF Chris Dickerson: 0-4, 1 BB
2B Corban Joseph & LF Ronnie Mustelier: both 1-3, 1 BB — CoJo committed a fielding error … Mustelier scored a run
DH Jack Cust: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — already his 14th homer, which caught me off guard … hadn’t realized he’s hit that many
1B Russell Branyan: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB — eight dingers in 21 games
3B Brandon Laird & SS Doug Bernier: both 0-4 — Laird struck out twice, Bernier all four times … Bernier also committed a throwing error
RF Colin Curtis & C Gus Molina: both 0-3, 1 BB — Curtis struck out twice, Molina once
RHP Dellin Betances: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 7 BB, 6 K, 2 WP, 4/3 GB/FB — 48 of 92 pitches were strikes (52.2%) … that’s a season-high in walks
RHP Chase Whitley: 2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 HB, 3/2 GB/FB — 24 of 35 pitches were strikes (68.6%)
LHP Justin Thomas: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2/0 GB/FB — eight of 14 pitches were strikes
RHP Ryota Igarashi: 1 IP, zeroes, 3/0 GB/FB — 16 pitches, a dozen strikes

[Read more…]

Report: Yasel Puig defects from Cuba

9:00pm: Kevin Goldstein provided a brief scouting report on Puig: “Physical, plus runner, avg bat, avg power, decent in CF, not a lock to stay there.”

11:30am: Via Jesse Sanchez, 21-year-old outfielder Yasel Puig has defected from Cuba and is in the process of establishing residency in Mexico. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 210 lbs., he is tentatively scheduled to work out for teams later this week. Puig’s agent is in the process of getting his client declared a free agent so he can sign prior to July 2nd, when he would become subject to the spending restrictions implemented by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

There isn’t much info out there about Puig, who Sanchez describes as “not as seasoned” as Yoenis Cespedes but with “more experience (at a high level)” as Jorge Soler. That doesn’t tell us anything meaningful, unfortunately. He hit 17 homers in Cuba’s top league two seasons ago but did not play last year because they caught him trying to defect and suspended him indefinitely. Here’s a highlight video edited to make Puig look like a superstar-in-waiting. No word on the Yankees’ level of interest or anything like that, all we know right now is that he successful escaped Cuba.

Update: Yanks to sign Cuban left-hander Omar Luis Rodriguez for $4M

8:03pm: Via Ben Badler, it’s a $4M bonus and Rodriguez needs to secure a visa before the deal can become official. Make sure you click the link, Badler provides plenty of background and scouting info.

2:31pm: Via Jesse Sanchez, the Yankees will sign 18-year-old Cuban left-hander Omar Luis Rodriguez for a bonus in the $4-5M range. It is a minor league contract. He became a free agent earlier this month and would have been subject to the spending restrictions implemented by the Collective Bargaining Agreement had he not signed by July 2nd.

Rodriguez first garnered serious attention at the World Junior Championships back in 2010, when he threw a complete game shutout against Team USA in the title game. He did get hit around while pitching in one of Cuba’s professional leagues as a 16-year-old a few years ago, but that’s not terribly surprising. Rodriguez is a projection guy with an 88-92 mph fastball to go with a curveball and changeup that still need development, and he’s drawn raves for his poise in the past. Pretty much exactly what the Yankees look for.

Wednesday Night Open Thread

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but Bill Murray is the co-owner of the Charleston River Dogs, the Yankees’ Low Class-A affiliate. He was inducted into the South Atlantic League Hall of Fame earlier this week and SB Nation was there to document the event. Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, and Bryan Mitchell each make a guest appearance in the video, which you should watch because Bill Murray is the man. Still kinda hard to believe he’s already 61.

Once you’re done watching that, use this as your open thread for the night. The Mets are playing the Orioles (Gee vs. Matusz) and the Cardinals and Tigers will be on ESPN (Westbrook vs. Porcello). Talk about those games or anything else you like here. Have at it.