A superficial look at the 2012 season of Curtis Granderson might lead one to wonder what it is Yankee fans are complaining about. He’s among the league leaders in HRs and is one of the best ambassadors of the game. But more astute observers, folks who watch him everyday will yell you there are gaping holes in his game. His batting average entering today’s game is a paltry .234. He’s easy to get out in clutch situations, simply bring in a lefty (.214/.297/.494 this season) or throw him a steady diet of breaking balls. His power, to no one’s surprise, is largely a product of Yankee stadium (.532 SLG Home/.452 away). He is the ultimate poster child for the all-or-nothing Yankee 2012 offense.
As Tyler Kepner penned in an article for the NY Times this week, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and there are certainly worse problems a team could have. But its also inescapable that this team is middling with RISP (11th overall) with men on base and is likely to go without a single player logging 100 RBIs for the first time in a generation. After the much ballyhooed adjustment he made with Yankee hitting coack Kevin Long and a monster 2011 campaign, the new improved Grandyman seems to be running out of steam. He’s already matched his career high in SO from 2006 with 18 games left to play, and is on pace for 196 Ks for the season. That would shatter the team record, held by (you guessed it) Curtis Granderson in 2011. So what has changed? Is it just bad luck or have opposing pitchers figured him out?
As is often the case, its a little bit of both. His .269 BABIP is down from last year’s .293 mark despite an increase in his LD%. But the prior 2 seasons he averaged a .275 BABIP, so this year’s mark may actually be the correction off of last year. What jumps out at me is looking at his advanced numbers is the pitch selection opposing pitchers are employing. As a rookie in 2004 he saw exactly two thirds fastballs. That number has declined annually and is down to a 50.4% this year. Simply put, opposing pitchers are throwing him fewer and fewer fastballs. Why wouldn’t they? He does all of his damage against that pitch. As he sees less fastballs, he’s swinging at more pitches out of the zone and, unsurprisingly for someone with his SO rates, making less contact overall.
Does he have another adjustment in him? Its tough to say. As Mark Teixeira will be the first to tell you, your swing is your swing. He bats from a closed stance already so its not as if he could simply square himself up to plate more to generate more balls the opposite way. He’s also a dead pull hitter and always has been. Its difficult to imagine him suddenly taking the slider from a lefty or change from a righty to the opposite field. Maybe next year he enjoys a bounce back off some good luck, but I have to think his 2012 season is much more about the scouting reports catching up to him. His results come off mistakes by the pitcher, not a function of him making in-bat adjustments.
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