Wednesday, February 15, 2012

At the Center of It All

In my final positional player evaluation I will discuss Curtis Granderson. Granderson came to the Yankees in 2010 in that three-team trade that sent top Yankee prospect Austin Jackson to Detroit and pitcher Ian Kennedy to the D-Backs. The Yankees received in return, a developed starting center fielder who they thought was capable of hitting 40 home runs and playing decent defense in center field.

Curtis' 2010 campaign began with him struggling at the plate. He had a wide strike zone and did not hit for the power the Yankees thought they would be getting. Sending Jackson to Detroit seemed like a mistake. Something happened however, that sent many Yankees fans begging Granderson for forgiveness. For a few days in in Texas, Curtis worked to tweak his approach at the plate with hitting coach Kevin Long. The results made K-Long look like a genius. Granderson's swing was transformed and it was showing results. He finished the 2010 season with an outstanding performance in the postseason and carried that into the 2011 season where he would be up for the MVP discussion.

From Game 1 of the 2011 season, it was apparent that the tutorial with Long did not go to waste. He began the season with a home run off of a lefty to essentially win the game for the Yankees. He ended the year with 41 round-trippers, 119 driven in and an eye-popping 136 runs scored to league the league in that category by a landslide.

Granderson did have some glaring issues at the plate that would not change however. He struck out a ton and his batting average was .262. Pitchers pitched to Granderson, hoping that he would strike out, which he did... 169 times. Granderson will be the first to say that he needs to work on his plate discipline and needs to cut down on the strikeouts. In order for him to ever win a Most Valuable Player Award, he needs to put more balls in play and hope they sneak through for hits. The .262 average will turn into a .275 average and pitchers will be forced to pitch around him.

Granderson had an MVP caliber year in 2011, with fans hoping for similar results in 2012. I believe that fans will see a Curtis Granderson who keeps his power numbers up, but also will see a Granderson who will cut down on his strikeouts. Plate discipline means everything in the majors and without some sense of it, pitchers will not see you as much of a threat.

My predictions for Granderson in 2012: .278 BA, 35 HR, 103 RBI

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