A hot end to Curtis Granderson’s 2010 season gave Yankee fans a lot to look forward to for his 2011 season. However, even the most optimistic Yankee fan could not have predicted how good Granderson would be in 2011. Granderson, who finished 4th in the A.L. MVP voting, finished 2011 batting .262, hitting 42 homers, knocking in 119 RBI, scoring 136 runs, and fishing with an .916 OPS. It was a testament to Kevin Long and Granderson’s work ethic that he could change so drastically after a miserable 2010 season. After having a career year last year a little regression probably should be expected for Granderson in 2012. How big of a regression and how it will affect the Yankees are the real questions.
I think Granderson will have a slight regression, but it’s probably one of the last things the Yankees need to worry about this year. I think that we will see improved years from Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. Also, having Jesus Montero be the full time DH will be a major upgrade over the multitude of players the Yankees had at DH last year. This all would help even out a potential Granderson slippage. Granderson certainly will not regress back into his 2010 numbers. Ever since Long has revamped Granderson’s swing he has been a different player. Long cut out all of Granderson’s pre swing movements to take advantage of Granderson’s quick hands. This lead to a quicker and more compact swing. Also, Long had had Granderson keep both hands on the bat throughout the whole swing, which has also helped him. While Granderson’s power numbers are likely to come down he can offset that by being a more selective hitter.
Granderson’s only issue last year was that he stuck out a little too much. Granderson stuck out 169 times last year, and had a 24.5 K rate. Granderson got a little impatient because pitchers stopped throwing him a lot of fastballs. Word got around quick that Granderson was crushing fastballs, and pitchers only threw him fastballs 51.1% of the time in 2011. A more patient approach would force pitchers to throw him more fastballs and Granderson could increase his career high walk rate of 12.3% last year. Granderson swung at pitches outside the strike zone at a 25.7% clip and made contact with pitches outside the strike zone at a 60.8% clip. Both of those numbers were career high’s for Granderson. The fact that he is making better contact with pitches shows how he is improving as a hitter. However, it also leads to a lower BABIP (.295 last year for Granderson) and a lower regular batting average. This shows that while Granderson had an MVP caliber year improving his plate discipline can help him even further.
Bill James predicts Granderson to go .348/.494/.842, with a .260 average, 31 homeruns, and 84 RBI. If he did that the Yankees would be fine, but I do expect him to do slightly better then that anyway. The Yankees are loaded offensively from the top of their lineup to the bottom. If Teixeira and Rodriguez hit to their potential, Montero hits anywhere close to what he did in Spetember, and Robinson Cano does his thing the Yankees can take a slight regression from Granderson. Granderson is also one of the most well spoken guys and one of the best clubhouse guys on the Yankees, so he contributes in more ways than just on the field. Curtis Granderson is not in the least bit a concern for the Yankees this year and should have another stellar year.