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Entries in Curtis Granderson (16)

Monday
Dec092013

Mets Bet $60 Million on Granderson's Bat Speed 

The New York Mets received precious little production from their outfielders in 2013, as the likes of Eric Young Jr., Lucas Duda and Juan Lagares combined for a .685 On-Base-Plus-Slugging Percentage (28th among major league clubs) and 50 home runs (24th). To add some thump to a mostly anonymous, anemic group of fly catchers, GM Sandy Alderson just added a guy who nearly hit that many homers by himself in recent years -- Curtis Granderson.

Granderson, inked to a four-year, $60 million deal to change buroughs in New York, went deep 40-plus times in both 2011 and 2012. But the soon-to-be-33-year-old's park-and-league adjusted OPS has dropped three years running, from a career-best 42 percent above average in 2011 to 15 percent above average in 2012 and three percent below average last year, when he missed a big chunk of the season after getting hit by pitches that broke his right wrist and left pinkie. His strikeout rate has climbed steadily over that time frame, from 24.5 percent of his plate appearances in '11 to 28.2 percent in '13.

For the Mets' latest free agent gamble to pay off, Granderson will need to prove that his uptick in whiffs and decline in power are more the product of aching hands than a slowing bat. His contact and slugging woes been especially glaring against fastballs.

Granderson's contact rate vs. fastballs, 2011

 

Granderson's contact rate vs. fastballs, 2012

 

Granderson's contact rate vs. fastballs, 2013

Granderson missed just 15.3 percent of the fastballs that he swung at in 2011, comfortably below the 16-17 percent average for MLB hitters. That whiff rate reached 23 percent in 2012, and spiked to 33.3 percent during his injury-shortened 2013 campaign -- highest among all batters seeing at least 400 fastballs.

Even when Granderson has managed to connect, he's rarely ripping fastballs down the right field line. He pulled 54.2 percent of fastballs put in play in 2011, by far the highest rate among left-handed hitters (Ryan Howard was second, at 40.6 percent). But Granderson's pull percentage dipped to 38.3 percent in 2012, and 34.7 percent in 2013. Hitting weaker shots to center and the opposite field, Granderson's slugging percentage against heaters has plummeted from .704 in 2011 (a mark bested only by Matt Kemp) to .456 last year.

Granderson's most comparable players on Baseball Reference through age 32 don't bode especially well for his chances of raking as he reaches his mid-30s. A group of outfielders including Ron Gant, J.D. Drew, Jose Cruz and (gulp) Jason Bay posted a collective OPS that was eight percent above average during their age 33-36 seasons (Bay, 35, is mulling retirement).

If you're optimistic about Granderson, you could say that 2011 was a career year, 2012 was more along the lines of what we should expect from him moving forward, and last year was an injury-riddled mulligan. If you're a pessimist -- there may be a few Mets fans in this category, I'm told -- then Granderson can't turn on fastballs anymore and his contract could turn into another Bay-esque money pit. Alderson and the Amazin's have staked $60 million on Grandy crushing fastballs in Queens.

Tuesday
Feb192013

Curtis Not-So-Granderson

Overall, Curtis Granderson did not have a grand 2012. 

  • On the grand side of things, he hit 43 homers and drove home 106 runs.
  • On the not-so-grand side, he hit .232 and struck out a whopping 195 times. 

How bad is that strikeout total?

Here are the five worst strikeout seasons in Yankee history

Rk Player SO Year
1 Curtis Granderson 195 2012
2 Curtis Granderson 169 2011
3 Alfonso Soriano 157 2002
4 Danny Tartabull 156 1993
5 Jorge Posada 151 2000
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/19/2013.

You may have noticed that the Grandyman set Yankee records each of the last two seasons for whiffs.

Here are the MLB strikeout leaders over the last two seasons

Rk Player SO From To
1 Adam Dunn 399 2011 2012
2 Drew Stubbs 371 2011 2012
3 Curtis Granderson 364 2011 2012
4 Danny Espinosa 355 2011 2012
5 Mark Reynolds 355 2011 2012
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/19/2013. 

Granderson is getting killed on pitches outside the strike zone

The picture says plenty, it tells us that 26.9% of the pitches that Granderson swung at were out of the strike zone. And he missed on 43.9% of those.

Not surprisingly its the curveball that's Granderson is chasing, hitting .139 against it last season. And when he makes contact on pitches out of the strike zone, against curveballs he hit .029.

Curtis hit .248 before the All-Star break and was one of baseball's worst hitters for average after the break at .212. But he did hit 20 homers in 75 games with 58 RBI and that power is essential for the Yankees' success.

It's that desire to hit homers that gets Granderson into trouble. While some batters like the ball down and in, Granderson loves pitches on the fat part of the bat and outside pitches are clearly his weak point.

Here are his 2012 homers

When you look at the location of the pitches in which he hit for homers, you can see how he ends up chasing so many pitches out of the zone and the risk is high that he will end up with nothing.

You can be sure that the mantra that Granderson is hearing this spring from Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, is "See the ball. Hit the ball." because without that, Granderson, who is in his walk year, will end up with just another strikeout year.

 

Friday
Oct192012

Yankees Hitters in October: An Autopsy

The New York Yankees' season ended last night when Prince Fielder snagged Jayson Nix's pop-up at the lip of the infield grass, completing the Tigers' four-game ALCS sweep. The sad part? Nix's one-hundred-foot floater was one of the Bombers' better ABs -- hey, at least he made contact!

New York led the American League in both on-base percentage and slugging during the regular season, but the club's offense no-showed in October. Here's a post-mortem on the Yankees' bats:

  • Collectively, the Yankees batted .187, got on base at a .254 clip and slugged .303. Ichiro was the only Bomber to tally double-digit hits (11), and Raul Ibanez was the only guy to go deep more than once (he hit three HR).
  • New York's trademark plate patience disappeared in October. The Yankees chased 32.4% of pitches thrown out of the strike zone during the playoffs, up from 27.3% during the regular season. Teams have been jumpier overall in the playoffs while facing higher quality pitching (the chase rate has increased from 28.4% during the regular season to 30.4%), but that's still a major jump in swinging at junk for the Yankees.
  • The club's biggest hackers were the hitless Eric Chavez (43.6% chase rate) and Robinson Cano (41.5%), who went 3-for-40. Chavez went after pitches thrown a foot outside, while Cano extended the zone down to his shoe tops:

Chavez's swing rate by pitch location

 

Cano's swing rate by pitch location

 

  • Curtis Granderson whiffed 43.5% of the time that he swung, far north of his already-high 29.7% miss rate during the regular season. He struck out 16 times, four more than any other postseason hitter.
  • The second-most whiff-tastic hitter? Alex Rodriguez. Despite being plastered to the bench for much of the ALDS, A-Rod struck out 12 times during the postseason. He whiffed 37.9% of the time that he swung (27.1% during the regular season).
  • Robinson Cano didn't record a single hit against a breaking or off-speed pitch, going 0-for-23 against curves, sliders and changeups. Pitchers buried Cano with soft stuff thrown low and away:

Location of breaking and off-speed pitches thrown to Cano during the playoffs

  • Russell Martin's hitting woes weren't due to poor plate discipline -- he just couldn't connect on pitches thrown over the plate. Martin saw a strike 55.6% of the time, second-highest among playoff hitters with at least 30 plate appearances (Jon Jay is first, at 56.2%).
  • Nick Swisher passed on some meatballs. He swung just half of the time that he got a pitch thrown middle-middle over the plate, down from about 76% of the time during the regular season. The average swing rate on middle-middle pitches is about 75% during the playoffs, and it was 72% during the regular season.