Curtis Granderson began his 14th year in the major leagues as the starting NY Mets centerfielder. Playing a 36-year-old in center is not an ideal situation. Back in March, Granderson spoke to the NY Post about his centerfield strategy:
When I go to a spot where I feel comfortable in center I look to my right, look to my left and there are times Cespedes is saying, ‘Back up.’ All right, I’m backing up. Or he is telling me to ‘scoot in,’ then I’m scooting in. We’re trying to collectively blanket the outfield with the three little pieces and all that green out there.
Grandy at the Plate
Rather than focusing on his glove, lets look at what Grandy provides at the plate. Despite his annual slow start, last season Curtis hit 30 home runs for the first time as a member of the NY Mets. By reaching 30 homers, Granderson is the first player ever with seasons of 30 or more home runs for two New York teams (including the Mets, Yankees, New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers). He last hit over 30 homers back in 2012 when he hit 43 for the Yankees.
Over his career, Curtis Granderson’s 162 game numbers average to a .255 Avg, .340 OBP, 29 HRs and 79 RBIs with a .813 OPS. It’s a solid batting resume. He’s always been a pull hitter with 49% of the balls that he has put in play being pulled. With 30% hit to center and only 21% hit to the opposite field. That’s why teams play a shift on him.
Curtis has an unorthodox batting stance, sometimes described as resembling a “corkscrew”. He has one swing, that he tries to consistently repeat. Here’s a heat map from FanGraphs showing his AVG/P, over the last 10 years. You can see his “happy zone” is down and away. It’s where he can extend his arms and pull the ball.
Curtis Granderson and Kevin Long
Before the start of the 2015 season, Granderson was reunited with Kevin Long, his former hitting coach from the Yankees. About Long, he says:
The first thing I’ve said to people is he’s always had a positive attitude. Once he tells you, hey, we’re going to try X,Y, and Z and you go out there you may not get the results you want right away because in baseball it’s obviously difficult to do that but he’s your number one fan when it comes to trying to make changes and adjustments.
You might notice that Curtis’s quotes aren’t very newsworthy. He’s articulate and pleasant, but never says much that is actually informative. He probably gets more attention for his Lucas Duda Instagram account. The MLB video below, where he describes working on the mechanics of his swing, is about as revealing as he’ll get about anything.
Playing Centerfield in His Last Season
2017 is the last season of a four-year, $60 million contract with the Mets for Granderson. Earlier this spring he commented:
Now I am the oldest guy here with the Mets. I never thought I would be saying that with any team that I am on. Now this is going to be the end of it. I am excited for whatever chapter happens to be next. If I continue to play I am going to look forward to it, mentally and physically. Mentally I am still excited to come every day. Hopefully the opportunity presents itself for me after this. If not, it has been a great run, I have enjoyed it, and there will be some other things I will enjoy doing as well.
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Photo by slgckgc