With Mark Teixeira’s and Nick Johnson’s collective struggles at the plate getting a lot of the Yankee press–along with the success of the starting pitchers–Curtis Granderson’s getting lost in the shuffle. Perhaps that’s a good thing, as he’ll be able to fly under the radar and not come under too much scrutiny while getting used to a new environment.
Right now, Curtis is hitting .246/.343/.443/.785/117+. He’s got a .356 wOBA and a 121 wRC+. Combine those offensive numbers with a 1.4 UZR, and you’ve got a 0.6 WAR player so far (over 650 PAs, that’d be a 5.714 WAR player).
All through the winter and Spring Training we were pondering how Granderson would fare against left handed pitching. Thus far, he’s got just a .268 wOBA vs. LHP, though that’s a pretty decent improvement over the .223 mark he had in 2009. Still, that’s not a good number. So, delving deeper into his splits page on FanGraphs, I thought I’d look to see why Curtis is struggling against LHP so far.
The first thing that really caught my eye was the ridiculous walk and strikeout rates. His walk rate versus LHP is a paltry 4.3 and his strikeout rate is an eye-poppingly bad 38.1% (career rates of 9.5% and 23.8%). Let’s see how it’s come to this.
At first, I thought it would be that Granderson was being impatient and not seeing a ton of pitches against left handed pitchers. However, when I crunched the numbers, it turned out that Curtis has seen about 3.9 pitches per PA against lefties. 4.075 P/PA is his career mark and he sees 4.333 P/PA against righties. So, it would seem that seeing pitches isn’t the problem. Unfortunately, FG’s splits don’t include swing numbers against lefties and righties so we can’t see if Curtis is chasing pitches he’s seen against left handers. From my not-too-scientific-observations, though, it’s seemed that Curtis has had a tendency to chase against lefties more so than against righties. Have you guys noticed the same thing? Perhaps that’s what causing Curtis to struggle against lefties. I think, in the end, it’s safe to infer that he’s chasing against lefties, especially considering the very high strikeout rate and very low walk rate. Whatever the problem is, I have faith in Granderson’s talent and hitting coach Kevin long’s ability to diagnose exactly what it is and attempt to correct it. I’m not expecting Granderson to have an even platoon split, but I think he can get up to at least a .270 wOBA vs. LHP by season’s end.
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