Mercifully, the Yankees ended their stretch of abysmal baseball Tuesday night against first-place Tampa Bay with a 6-2 victory. It is natural to dissect everything that went wrong for a team during any six-game losing streak. However, because of that horrid streak, not a lot of analysis was done of the one thing that was working for the Bombers during that black hole. I’m talking about Curtis Granderson.
Granderson’s good play hasn’t gone totally unnoticed. RAB suggested that he’s the best all-around player in the AL on Tuesday, but I’ve yet to see a detailed look at his numbers. The interesting thing is that his numbers are not as good as one might think.
After going 0-5 in Tuesday’s victory, Granderson is now batting .270/.339/.622 on the season. If you cast aside his mind-blowing power (we’ll get to that) the AVG and OBP are not materially different from last season’s line of .247/.324/.468. He’s hitting the ball much, much harder, but he’s getting on base and getting hits at roughly the same clip. If you swapped this season’s SLG with last season’s SLG, Granderson would be batting .270/.339/.468 and is suddenly having a good but not spectacular season.
Therefore, the reason Granderson has a .427 wOBA this season, versus a .346 wOBA last season is almost entirely due to power. He’s getting hits at roughly the same clip. Those hits are just going a lot farther than they did last year.
Power is a difficult thing to analyze. Often times when a player’s SLG jumps up unexpectedly, as Granderson’s has this season, a big jump in AVG comes with it. This is natural because every point of AVG flows directly in SLG, with the difference being ISO. As a result, when players improve in power from one season to another it is often because they are swinging the bat better all around, getting more hits, and therefore having more of them go for extra bases.
Alex Rodriguez did something like this twice in pinstripes. From 2004 to 2005 his slash line jumped up from .286/.375/.512 to .321/.421/.610 and from 2006 to 2007 it jumped up from .290/.392/.523 to .314/.422/.645. He improved tremendously each time, but his burst in SLG came with a corresponding burst in AVG. As a result, some of that power was simply due to an all-around improvement. His ISO during that time went from .226 to .289 and then from .233 to .331. Granderson, on the other hand, hasn’t seen the same jump in his AVG at all, but his ISO has exploded from .221 in 2009 to a mind-blowing .364 so far this season (.220 career). Put another way, Granderson has seen a far greater explosion in power so far in 2011 than A-Rod did in his legendary 2007 season. This begs the question of whether Granderson’s performance is sustainable.
Unfortunately, the numbers suggest not. The data below are taken from Fangraphs, and do not include Tuesday night’s game.
The top set of data are a variety of important rate stats for Curtis, each measuring not only whether or not his approach has changed, but also whether or not the results of his at bats have changed. The second set of data reflect how he has done against just about every pitch type (SF stands for split-finger) over samples of 100 pitches, which is used to allow for comparison between this season and last season.
What stands out about the top numbers is how similar his walk and strikeout rates are between the two seasons. They are virtually identical, suggesting really very little improvement in discipline. Ultimately, this was to be expected because Granderson’s AVG and OBP are not much improved on last season. Furthermore, his BABIP is just about the same, which means that his slightly improved AVG and OBP are pretty much due to his homers. On everything else he’s doing just about the same.
What is concerning about those numbers is that they suggest some luck is taking place. Granderson’s line drive rate is down and his fly ball rate is up. As a result, due to all the homers, far more of his fly balls are carrying into the stands. On most players, this would suggest that an adjustment is coming. For my part I see omitted variable bias. Granderson doesn’t hit a lot of cheapies, as these numbers suggest. When he hits a homer, it is GONE. Perhaps my eyes are deceiving me and we’ll see some of Granderson’s flies die on the track soon, but that hasn’t seemed likely so far this year.
The second set of data, unfortunately, also suggest Granderson may be due for a correction. These represent how effective he has been against various types of pitches. Given that he’s been good, it is expected that there will be some positive numbers. The problem is that there’s just one. Curtis has murdered fastballs like a serial killer. That is all. He’s at par or below average against everything else, except for splitters, which he has only seen less than 2% of the time, and which few pitchers throw. It is particularly concerning that he has been just about as bad against sliders and cutters (almost the same pitch) as he has been good against fastballs.
There are three conclusions to draw from this data. The first is that Granderson’s current power is unsustainable. This is not to say that he’ll finish the year with a sub .500 SLG. At his current pace that seems unlikely, but his power improvement is due almost exclusively to extra-base hits, which is not sustainable. There simply aren’t many .270 hitters with .600+ SLG power.
The second conclusion from these numbers reinforces the argument that the homers will slow down. The book on Granderson is clearly don’t throw him fastballs; get him out with sliders and cutters. Every team in the AL knows that he’s the guy on the Yankees swinging the bat the best right now. Many of them have starters and relievers who can get Curtis to strike out on a steady diet of plus sliders and cutters.
The good news is the third conclusion. The numbers don’t suggest that Granderson’s performance will tail off dramatically, just that he will slow a bit. Granderson has obviously changed his swing and improved his results at the plate. Most obviously, his new swing allows him to annihilate fastballs. Any hitter capable of that will have success in the big leagues. That’s because even pitchers with good sliders can’t always stay ahead of batters. If Curtis can battle his way to a fastball count, or if the pitcher hangs one, there is a great chance he’ll do serious damage.
LIKE TYA ON FACEBOOK
- TYA To Merge With It’s About The Money, Stupid
- What about Kevin Youkilis?
- Teix Now Front And Center On The “Needs To Produce” Radar
- Cashman: Heathcott A Dark Horse Candidate
- A Dog Chasing Cars
- Outfield Trade Targets
- The Problem With Brett Gardner
- A Look At Relief Prospect Branden Pinder
- The Yankees Should Be Realistic, Put Team on Short Leash in 2013
- Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- Brand bc on Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- http://2804lasela.wordpress.com/ on TYA Predictions: Bold predictions for 2012
- the tao of badass pdf on What about Austin Romine?
- Joey Parkhill on Dante Bichette Jr’s Swing
- lululemon factory outlet on Contact Us
- Cary on Will R.A. Dickey’s Knuckleball Succeed In A Domed Stadium?
- Brenna on Links: Prospects, Support for A-Rod, Mariano is Love and Who’s in Center?
- Louis Vuitton Outlet Sale Singapore on The Monthly Prospector: April Edition
- Authentic Louis Vuitton Outlet Store on The Monthly Prospector: June Edition
- Louis Vuitton Outlet San Diego on Banuelos to Undergo Tommy John Surgery, Yankees Prospectors to Undergo Grief Counseling
TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees