The Yankee blogosphere has been buzzing lately with the news that Curtis Granderson has agreed to move to left field if the club asks him to. This is a move that we have discussed extensively here at TYU, with most of the writers advocating the club putting the better defender, Gardner, in center field. I have been a bit more hesitant, agreeing with Rob Neyer that practical concerns and the chance of a Gardner flop make the switch a bad idea. Dave Cameron, however, has a different perspective that may be the definitive view on the subject:
Whether you have Brett Gardner in left and Granderson in center or vice versa, the overall impact on the Yankees will be so minor as to not be worth the discussion.
Gardner may actually be the better defender at this point, and we have been conditioned to believe that the best defensive outfielder should play center, as he will have more opportunities to flag down balls than either of the corner outfielders. But if you have two guys who can capably handle center field (as the Yankees now do), it isn’t all that important which one ends up in CF……
The total difference in defensive performance between the two alignments is simply the drop in value in right-center balls caught minus the rise in value in left field line balls caught. We’re talking about a marginal difference on just a handful of balls in play over a full season. We’re talking about fractions of a run.
Cameron then goes on to suggest the Yankees go with Granderson in center simply to avoid the inevitable media attention should he be moved. Quite frankly, this is a point that I made when this discussion was first raised, and I continue to believe that it is the most logical course of action. Unless Granderson shows that he has inexplicably experienced a steep decline defensively, the difference between the two players is simply too small to justify moving the better player out of his spot. I would say that there is a decent chance that Brett Gardner is not the Yankee center fielder in 2011. Why mess with Granderson simply to save “fractions of a run” in 2010?
Agree? Disagree? Chime in below.
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