Curtis Granderson came to the Yankees after three consecutive seasons of decline, decline that was coming at an early age. He posted a career high .395 wOBA in 2007, and then saw his production drop off rapidly. In 2008 his wOBA was .374 and in 2009 it was all the way down to .346. Analysts were aware of this trend when he joined the Yankees. The Bombers were banking that a change of scenery was all Granderson needed (that, and a platoon because he couldn’t hit lefties with a tennis racket).
Things did not go well for Curtis at the beginning of the 2010 season. He got off to a miserable start in April and then injured himself in May. He was average to slightly below average after that, until Kevin Long gave him a new swing in late August. And then, he became one of the best hitters in baseball. The trend continued in the playoffs, where he raked.
The trend also continued in 2011. Curtis posted a .394 wOBA on the season and pummeled 41 homers. He was consistently dominant, only slowing down in September (when he slowed to a crawl). Unexpectedly, he was the Yankees best hitter in 2011, posting a slash line of .262/.364/.552. Can he do it again?
The general answer appears to be probably not, but the miserable Curtis from the beginning of 2010 isn’t expected to return either. Granderson’s Fangraphs page projects a wOBA of around .370 next year, a considerable drop off from 2011, but a solid season all the same. That seems reasonable. From a projection standpoint it isn’t wise to predict that Granderson has turned into a perennial 40 home run threat, but it is equally unlikely that he will stop being a productive player.
Baseball Reference also agrees. Granderson’s career to date has been surprisingly similar to Ron Gant’s career through his age 30 season. In Gant’s age 30 season he managed a wOBA of .404, just about the same as what Curtis put up last year. In Gant’s age 31 season his wOBA fell, but only down to .371, right around where the more cautious prognosticators are predicting Curtis’ wOBA to be.
For my part, I’m bullish on Granderson. He’s not the first Yankee to get a new swing from Kevin Long, but he is the only one who kept the swing working once he got it. Derek Jeter abandoned his new swing almost immediately. Nick Swisher struggled to remain productive with the new swing over an extended period of time. Robinson Cano decided that taking pitches was for suckers not long after he got his new approach. But Granderson learned the new technique and kept it up. Anyone with that kind of discipline should be given the benefit of the doubt. While I don’t think Curtis will remain a .400 wOBA hitter, I feel .385 or so is more likely than .370.
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