Is Granderson becoming Adam Dunn?

Despite what he says, Grandy’s a HR hitter (Zimbio photos)

Almost every time ESPN shows a highlight of one of Granderson’s HRs they say “but he’s not a HR hitter”.  This is in reference to Grandy stating over and over again that he doesn’t consider himself to be a HR hitter despite the fact that he has more HRs than anyone in MLB since Opening Day 2011 (tied with Jose Bautista with 70).  Curtis doesn’t consider himself a HR hitter because he thinks of himself of a more complete player – someone who hits for average, gets on base, hits doubles & triples, steals bases, etc.  However, with each passing month this season, his HRs are going up while he has regressed in most of those other categories.  Right now, is their much difference between Granderson and someone like Adam Dunn at the plate?

Grandy has always been a dynamic offensive player who racked up Extra Base Hits.  Last year’s season was excellent but not far off from the season’s he had in Detroit in 2007 and 2008.  This year he is on pace for a career high 43 HRs but is also trending in the opposite direction in a number of key areas and the numbers are closer to his disappointing years of 2009 & 2010.  His rise in HRs has coincided with a drop-off in Doubles & Triples.  He has just 11 Doubles & 3 Triples this yr which puts him on pace for career lows of 16 & 5.  By comparison, he has averaged 27 & 12 over his 6 year career.  Could it be that the short porch in YS is turning those 2 and 3-baggers into 4-baggers?  That seems like a likely scenario but last yr he had 77 total XBHs and this year he’s on pace for 64, so there is a drop-off from last year.

Grandy is also hitting a career-low .247 (also hit .247 in 2010) but not that far off from last year’s .262.  But the reason for the lower BA and the lower XBHs is his contact rates.  Granderson is striking out at alarming rates.  Not only is he striking out more every year, but this season he has gotten worse every month.  He’s struck out in 28% of his Plate Appearances and is on pace to fan a whopping 195 times!  The below chart shows that while his HR% has increased the last 5 seasons, so has his K%.

Year HR% SO% BB% AB/HR HR/FB
2008 3.5% 17.7% 11.3% 25.1 9.6%
2009 4.2% 19.9% 10.1% 21.0 10.8%
2010 4.6% 22.0% 10.0% 19.4 11.3%
2011 5.9% 24.5% 12.3% 14.2 17.7%
2012 6.3% 28.0% 11.9% 13.8 18.1%
9 Yr Career 4.3% 22.6% 10.2% 20.6 11.7%
MLB Averages 2.7% 17.6% 8.5% 33.4 7.7%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table Generated 8/2/2012.

The added strikeouts may be worth the extra HRs but it’s also causing a lower BA, OBP and less 2Bs and triples.  Curtis has also stopped stealing bases.  So much of his worth is now tied to the HR.  Not exactly a prototypical #2 hitter which begs the question, should he be moved down in the order to capitalize on those HRs in better RBI opportunities?  Last year he drove in a league-high 119 runs but this year he has only 60 and is on pace for 92.  Jeter is getting on base in front of him at a solid .361 rate but the bottom of the order is much weaker this year.  Martin, Nix, Stewart and now Ichiro are the guys most often hitting 8th and 9th and they all have sub .300 OBP’s.  Last season Brett Gardner hit 9th with a .345 OBP.  It’s no coincidence that 20 of his 29 HRs this year are Solo shots while last yr only 20 of his 41 HRs were with no one on base.

What is the reason for Granderson’s regression as the season wears on?  Is he worn out from having to play CF so much this year with Gardner out?  Or is it an escalation of his natural regression to a hitter who strikes out a ton, walks a lot, and is a big HR-hitter?  Whatever the reason, I don’t believe it’s the best thing for Granderson or the team.  I think a dynamic Granderson who puts the ball in play more, hits more doubles and triples, gets on base more and has a higher average is better than the Grandy we have seen this yr with a few more HRs but drop-offs in every other major category.  Here are his month to month numbers this yr:

2012  K% OBP%

April 24.9 .380

May 26.0 .341

June 27.0 .325

July 33.9 .321

That’s not a misprint – Curtis struckout in 34% of his PA’s in July!  Certainly not a trend we’d like to see continue.  But what do the rest of you think?  Are you fine with Granderson becoming an Adam Dunn type of hitter who has 3 outcomes (Walk, SO, HR) 47% of the time and who stops hitting Doubles & Triples as long as he hits around 40 HRs per year?  And if that’s the type of player he is now, does he belong hitting in the #2 hole?  If you’d like to move Grandy down, who hits #2 and what is your new lineup?  The Yanks don’t have a clear #2 hitter but maybe Swisher, Ichiro or when/if healthy ARod would be a better fit than Curtis.  Let’s hear what you think.

About fishjam25

Was a 4-yr Pitcher and Communications Major at Seton Hall University in the 90s. His knowledge & opinion of the game comes from his background as a player and ardent lifetime Yankee fan. However, Fishjam also incorporates sabermetrics and statistical support to form a well-rounded view of the game.

Posted on August 2, 2012, in Analysis, Personal Opinion, Statistical Analysis and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Good article Fish. There are more and more of Adam Dunn type players in MLB than ever before and quite frankly I don’t have a huge issue with it. It is becoming accepted a lot more throughout MLB. Only time a strike out is worse than any other out is when you have a guy on 3rd with less than 2 outs or you want to move somebody over to 3rd. As long as he is not striking out in those spots he is not doing much more harm than getting out any other way. What should be noted that wasn’t that Granderson leads the team in walks and his OBP is nearly 100 points better than his AVG. As long as his OPS is in the .875 range I don’t really care how much he strikes out. Right now it is about .850 but one hot stretch, which he i due for, can get him up there pretty quickly. I have been saying all year that A-Rod should be in the 2 hole with Grandy 3rd or probably 5th now with Tex hot but it will never happen.

  2. TWASP loves the HR. Lots of HRs with good OBP. In the right spot in the lineup Grandy is fine. (3rd or 5th). If his OBP trends down further than we may have an issue.

  3. Fish/matt B. – There is a player that should be the poster boy for this all or nothing syndrome. In 2008 he hit over 30 home runs but led the league in BOTH strikeouts and walks and batted only .231. Who is it?

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