Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ain't Life Granderson?- Center Field

Curtis Granderson is presumably the Yankees opening day center fielder. Many questions have come up this spring regarding a possible move for Curtis to left field in order to let the young and speedy Brett Gardner become the Yankees every day center fielder. Joe Girardi has already stated that he expects Granderson to play center field, while Granderson said he would be willing to make the switch to left field if approached about it.

Let's assume that Granderson will be starting in center field this season. Last year, Curtis Granderson played great defense, despite sabermatricians not agreeing with that statement. Granderson set a career high in home runs with 43, but also set a career high in strikeouts with 195 in the regular season. The pile-up of strikeouts is a cause for concern for Yankee fans because it caused Granderson's batting average to sink all the way down to .232, which is a career low for the slugger. Granderson is suffering from the same thing Mark Teixeira is suffering from, and that is going away from his strengths in order to accommodate the short porch in right field. In 2011, Granderson had an MVP caliber season with a respectable batting average, a great number of walks and not as many strikeouts.

Another aspect of Granderson's offensive game that has vanished is his ability to steal bases. Curtis went from stealing 25 bags in 2011 to only stealing 10 in 2012. Granderson is a fast runner, and that number should have been double of what it actually was. I am concerned for Granderson this season, because the numbers that he put up in 2012 are not showing a positive climb toward him being a better player. The speed element of his game has apparently disappeared overnight, he is too dependent on the long ball and he is striking out in almost every at bat.

With 2013 being Granderson's walk year, I hope he improves on the fundamentals of his game. He is a great baseball player; some could argue that he has five tools. However, in order to gain value on the free agent market Granderson needs to remind everyone about what made him so popular in 2011, or else his contract will suffer as a result. With 2013 being Granderson's free agency year I believe that he will make a great effort in order to improve on fundamentals.

My predictions for Granderson in 2013: .255 BA, 39 HR, 110 RBI

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