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Posts Tagged ‘Curtis Granderson’

(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated atTheYankeeAnalysts.)

Bobby Abreu’s game winning home run off Mariano Rivera was shocking for two reasons. Not only has the great Rivera been seldomly beaten by the long ball (64 surrendered since 1995), but Abreu entered the game with only four round trippers all season. As John Sterling would say, you can’t predict baseball.

Granderson looks dejectedly after his caught stealing thwarted a potential Yankees' comeback (Photo: AP).

If the events in the top of the ninth were surprising, only a gaping mouth could describe what happened in the bottom half. With Mark Teixeira at the plate as the winning run, Curtis Granderson was picked off first by Jordan Walden. Adding insult to injury, Granderson was fooled by one of the oldest tricks in the book: the much maligned fake-to-third/throw-to-first. After two failed attempts to catch Granderson, Walden’s third try proved to be a charm as the Yankees’ centerfielder guessed wrong and left on the right hander’s first move. The result was a caught stealing and the Yankees left to wonder what might have been.

Although Joe Girardi tried to defend the move as an aggressive attempt to tie the game, there was no justification for Granderson’s blunder. Considering the risk, as well as Teixeira’s propensity for extra base hits (50 of 107 hits have been for extra bases), the advantage of Granderson advancing to second, particularly with two strikes already on the batter, was minimal. Nonetheless, because it was just a regular season game (although, should the Yankees lose the wild card to the Angels, the play will take on added infamy), and, more importantly, Granderson has played so well all season, the lapse in judgment was relatively overlooked after the game. Just imagine, however, if the error was committed in a much more important game…like game seven of the World Series?

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(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)

By roughing up Brett Anderson in last night’s 10-3 victory over the Athletics, the Yankees improved their record against lefthanders to 11-6, the fourth best mark in baseball. In addition, the Yankees exited the game with the two batters who have the most RBIs against southpaws: Curtis Granderson (19) and Robinson Cano (18).

Have mechanical adjustments turned Granderson into a lefthander’s worst nightmare (Photo: NY Post)?

No one should be surprised to see Cano among the games most effective hitters against left-handed pitching. Over his career, the Yankees’ lefty swinging second baseman has had considerable success facing hurlers who throw from the port side. Since 2007, Cano’s wOBA against lefties has been .370, including a rate of at least .349 in every season over that span.

Curtis Granderson, however, is another story. When the Yankees acquired him from the Tigers before the 2010 season, the biggest knock on Granderson was his inability to hit lefties. In fact, many suggested that the weakness would eventually render him a platoon player. After a difficult first few months in pinstripes, it looked as if that prediction would come true, but following a much heralded tutorial with hitting coach Kevin Long, Granderson completely changed his profile as a hitter.

Not only does Granderson lead the majors in RBIs off left-handed pitching, he is also tops with nine home runs and third in wOBA with an astounding rate of .505. What’s more, he hasn’t exactly been picking on the weaker members of the herd. Counted among Granderson’s long ball victims are Jon Lester, David Price and Anderson, three of the best lefties in the American League.

Major League Leaders Against Lefthanders, Ranked by wOBA

Name Team wOBA  PA HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
Chris Iannetta Rockies 0.565 45 6 13 0.333 0.467 0.917
Jay Bruce Reds 0.545 47 5 16 0.381 0.435 0.857
Curtis Granderson Yankees 0.505 69 9 19 0.323 0.373 0.823
Howie Kendrick Angels 0.503 66 5 10 0.364 0.462 0.727
Jose Bautista Blue Jays 0.503 45 4 7 0.333 0.467 0.750
Mike Napoli Rangers 0.495 55 5 15 0.302 0.455 0.721
Hanley Ramirez Marlins 0.490 43 2 5 0.378 0.465 0.676
Alfonso Soriano Cubs 0.490 49 4 9 0.391 0.429 0.717
Michael Young Rangers 0.489 64 1 13 0.431 0.484 0.655
Jed Lowrie Red Sox 0.485 59 3 16 0.429 0.441 0.696

Source: fangraphs.com

Considering the Yankees have two lefthanders who have feasted on pitchers throwing from the same side, one might expect the team’s overall performance against southpaws to be off the charts. However, that’s not the case. Although the team’s wOBA of .365 against lefthanders is very impressive, it isn’t an extraordinary figure. In fact, the Yankees are not even close to the rate posted by the Cardinals, who lead the league with a wOBA of .388 against lefties.

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(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)

During the spring, the Red Sox have been universally praised for opening up their checkbook in the offseason. Not only did the team acquire slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in a trade with the Padres, but intrepid GM Theo Epstein then blew all other suitors out of the water in his pursuit of Carl Crawford.

Carl Crawford was a centerpiece of the Red Sox offseason rebuilding plans (Photo: Getty Images).

The last time the Yankees went on a similar shopping spree (the 2009 offseason acquisitions of A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira), the team wasn’t exactly lauded for its excess. The Yankees have long been a popular target for resentment, so the backlash wasn’t unexpected. The real irony, however, stems from the criticism GM Brian Cashman has received because didn’t make a big splash this offseason. In this regard, the team really is the Damn Yankees: they are damned when they spend, and damned when they don’t.

Based on the relative offseason activity (or inactivity in the Yankees’ case) of the two rivals, most “experts” have all but handed the division to the Red Sox. In fact, in his latest attempt to explain why he went to Philadelphia, Cliff Lee even cited Boston’s improvements as a deterrent to signing in New York. Of course, what Lee and so many others seem to be ignoring is the Yankees didn’t need either Gonzalez or Crawford because they already possessed comparable talent.

The comparison between Gonzalez and Teixeira is an easy one. Both players are slick fielding, power hitting first basemen who are widely regarded as cornerstone clubhouse guys. In other words, they are the type of player around whom you can build a championship. Not surprisingly, their statistics are also very similar. Over the last five seasons, Teixeira’s wOBA of .391 has been a tick better than Gonzalez’ rate of .373, but all things considered, it’s hard to give one player an advantage over the other. (more…)

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Yankees’ CF Curtis Granderson recently returned from a goodwill tour of New Zealand, where he not only experienced the unique culture of the island nation, but also served as an ambassador to the country’s fledgling baseball community. Naturally, Granderson’s activities were mostly ignored by the New York tabloids. Wallace Mathews of ESPNNewYork did briefly cover the trip in a blog post, but only to drum up controversy by linking to video of the centerfielder riding on the backseat of a motorcycle.

Granderson tries his hand at Rugby during a visit with the Aukland Blues (Getty Images).

Fortunately, in this age of social media, fans were able to tag along on Granderson’s trip by following his travels on youtube, twitter, Yankees.com and his charitable organization’s website (grandkidsfoundation.org). In addition to the aforementioned motorcycle tour, Granderson also embarked on other cultural adventures (including meeting Prime Minister John Key, whose son plays baseball), but mostly focused on the country’s athletic scene, including visits with professional basketball, cricket and rugby teams.

Baseball was the main reason for Granderson’s visit, which coincided with the IBAF under-16 championship trials for the Oceania region. In addition to presiding at numerous camps and clinics for young baseball players from New Zealand and other countries participating in the tournament, Granderson also served as a visiting dignitary promoting interest in a game that has slowly been making inroads on the island. The trip was the center fielder’s fourth as part of Major League Baseball’s International Ambassador program. His previous visits included Europe (England, the Netherlands and Italy), South Africa and China.

Not only is baseball’s popularity at on all-time high in the United States, but the level of interest and participation abroad has been exploding. The number of foreign born players in the majors is the most obvious evidence, but the growing number of countries eager to host MLB’s ambassador visits is even more encouraging. The popularity of the World Baseball Classic has been an offshoot of this global expansion, and perhaps also a driver, but for whatever reason, interest in baseball seems to be spreading beyond the traditional strongholds of Asia and the Americas.

Granderson’s dedication to the Ambassador program is laudable because a major leaguer’s offseason seems to grow shorter each year. From the Yankees perspective, the fact that his latest visit involved him wearing the interlocking NY logo is an added bonus. As the game of baseball expands its frontiers, it is in the Yankees’ best interest to have their brand on the forefront, and trips like Granderson’s help to do just that. After all, despite previously being unknown in the country, Granderson’s travels were widely covered by the New Zealand Herald, which compared his stature to Tiger Woods, David Beckham and Roger Federer, because of the power and presence of the Yankee name.

The Yankees, with their crossed over NY symbol and their pinstriped pyjamas, are the most recognisable sporting brand on the planet. Granderson, the starting centre fielder with an unrivalled skill set, is a star of the present and future.” – New Zealand Herald, January 28, 2011

Granderson’s goodwill trip was a success for the Yankees and Major League Baseball, but no one fared better than New Zealand baseball. Not only did the country’s amateur players receive tutelage and encouragement from a major league superstar, but its under-16 squad upset a heavily favored team from Guam to advance to the August world championship in Mexico. The next step for the country will be to have one of its own become a big leaguer. Toronto Blue Jays’ minor leaguer Scott Campbell, who hails from Aukland, is currently the best hope, but even if he doesn’t make it, sooner or later someone will. Trips like Granderson’s can only help in that regard.

Members of the New Zealand under-16 national team (Photo: New Zealand Herald).

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