Mark Carig of NJ.com (The Newark Star-Ledger) has a new piece up where he interviews someone who chose to be anonymous but “worked in the statistical analysis department of a major league club”. Maybe it’s someone who worked for the Yanks and is now with another team, so therefore chose to withhold his name. In any case, the mystery analyst breaks down the Granderson deal to the Yanks, and does a good job addressing some of the concerns fans have raised about his game. He writes:
What a deal.
Last week, the Yankees managed to upgrade one of their few weak spots in 2009, and did so without giving up anything they will miss. Sure, Austin Jackson, Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy have value, but Coke and Kennedy are easily replaceable, while Granderson is essentially a best-case scenario for what Austin Jackson could become.
Agreed. They were able to make this deal from a position of strength. This was one of the reasons why Cashman was so hesitant to make the Johan Santana deal, the farm system wasn’t at a point where they could deal off excess. None of the players would likely have played a significant role on the 2010 Yanks, and the one who would have made the 25-man roster in Phil Coke has ‘cup of coffee in the bigs’ written all over him. Won’t miss any of them, though I’m still an IPK fan and will be following his career out west with the D-Backs.
Granderson, 29, has played in the major leagues for long enough that we have a good handle on what he is: an-above average defender who can hit right handed pitching. Granderson’s UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) per 150 defensive games is +5 runs in over 660 career games. This is a significant upgrade over Melky Cabrera, who’s UZR/150 is -6 runs in 361 career games. In statistical analysis, 10 runs is equivalent to approximately one win, meaning that switching from Cabrera to Granderson in center field is likely worth approximately one win. That may not sound like a lot, but remember: we are only evaluating their defensive prowess, and a one-win defensive upgrade is huge.
Agreed, although as EJ argued yesterday Gardner would be an even bigger defensive upgrade and would allow you to play Granderson in Left. That would be your strongest defensive Outfield, but there are still many questions about how Gardner’s bat will translate in the bigs. No pop and bad contact rates often don’t mix in the big leagues, so the Yanks are right to move slowly with Brett. However, when comparing Brett to Melky, neither one is overly exciting with the bat so Girardi will likely play whoever is hot. Which is the smart move.
Granderson’s platoon split is well known, but his home/road splits are less known. Granderson has hit .261/.334/.451 in Comerica Park, and .284/.353/.516 on the road. The new Yankee Stadium presents an interesting challenge for Granderson: in 2009 (an admittedly small sample size), Yankee Stadium was the easiest ballpark to hit home runs in (as Johnny Damon can attest to), but depressed both doubles and triples. Granderson excels in hitting triples, totaling 55 in the last four years. Playing in Yankee Stadium will likely depress his triples, but could help him improve his home run total.
I never worry much about Triples, which are among the flukiest of stats in baseball (Side note-It was a running joke on the 1977 Yankees that the slow-footed 3B Graig Nettles led the AL in Triples for the first few months of the year) but clearly getting out of Comerica Park should help Curtis dramatically. He adds:
Although Granderson’s batting average slumped to .249 in 2009, his walk and strikeout rates remained the same. It appears that the primary cause of this low batting average for a low batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Granderson’s BABIP in 2009 was .277, much lower than his career .323 BABIP. If his BABIP rebounds in 2010, his batting average should as well.
One interesting note about Granderson is that in 2009 he hit far more fly balls than he ever had before. It’s possible that his 49% fly ball rate was a fluke – his career rate is 43% and his fly ball rate has fluctuated from year to year – but if he can maintain this fly ball rate, it should serve him very well in Yankee Stadium. Remember, 17 of the 24 homers swatted by fellow left handed batter Johnny Damon came in Yankee Stadium.
Right, this is why I felt its a no-lose for the Yanks. If he reverts to his pre-2009 approach at the plate, he should fare better against Lefties. If not, he figures to hit plenty of HR’s at YSIII. Win-win for the Yanks. On his point about BABIP, some of that may be luck and some may be due to his HR-happy approach at the plate, pulling off the outside pitch more often and making poor contact as a result. Again nothing that can’t be fixed, if needed.
Granderson’s primary weakness is his inability to hit lefties. Therefore, it makes sense for the Yankees to pair him with another outfielder who can hit lefties – a skillset that should not be overly difficult to find. Jamie Hoffman, the Yanks’ Rule V pick, may fit the bill, having just posted a .974 OPS against lefties in 2009 (don’t get too excited, however – his career OPS against lefties is only .752).
I would add former Yankee Shelly Duncan killed Lefties as well. Guys who can play the outfield and kill Lefties are a dime a dozen. It’s not the type of thing that would hold back a deal or that a team should be overly concerned about. I love this deal for the Yanks, Cashman bought low on an asset that would have cost him double had he tried to acquire him in 08 or 07. I’ll take those road numbers and be happy, but I suspect Yankee Stadium and his swing will be a perfect marriage.
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