Top Yankee storylines of the 2010 season: Can Curtis Granderson be this year’s Nick Swisher?

Below is the first post from our newest contributor, Joe Montesano. Please give Joe a warm Yankeeist welcome.

This time last year, you were hearing a lot of whispers about how Nick Swisher was primed for a bounceback year (OK, I wrote it). Swish was coming off an embarrassing season in Chicago, where he set a career low in wOBA, while batting just .219. This, though, was a prime example as to why batting average is not an indicator of actual performance. In the article linked above, I labeled Swish unlucky, and for good reason. Even though his line drive rate was a career high, his BABIP was just .249. Hitting the ball hard, with the same relative frequency, resulting in fewer hits = UNLUCKY.

That brings us to Curtis Granderson. Yankee fans are all at half mast thinking about the fact that Grandy hit 30 home runs in 2009 while playing half of his games in a canyon, but there is more to what he can, and in my opinion will, add to the 2010 Yankees. Much like Swisher’s ugly ’08, 2009 saw Granderson’s BABIP fall by a significant amount, in fact an even more exaggerated plunge than what Swish experienced. Meanwhile, Granderson continued to hit the ball hard, with LD% of 21.2% against a 20.5% career average. Yet, perhaps inexplicably, it resulted in decidedly less success.

The key to the tough times for Granderson may lie in his ground ball percentage. Even though his fly ball percentage was relatively flat year over year, his GB% fell by 11%. For a guy with Granderson’s speed, that could result in a big drop in hits — and it did.

We can’t ignore the 800-pound gorilla in the room: Curtis was about as useful as a wet cardboard cutout against lefthanded pitching. Here’s a number that could explain at least part of that: .226. That was Granderson’s BABIP against lefties, versus a .295 BABIP against righties. His line drive rate, you ask? Identical against all pitchers regardless of what hand they throw with.

Am I saying that Curtis Granderson is going to win a batting title in 2010? Hell no. What I am saying is that Curtis Granderson is not a .183 hitter against lefthanded pitchers and, in turn, will be a superior offensive player for the Yankees. I don’t know about the 40 home run nonsense that the Sals from Staten Island are calling Francesa and screaming about, but I think you could be looking at a big year from the Yankees’ first real centerfielder since someone kidnapped Johnny Damon.

5 thoughts on “Top Yankee storylines of the 2010 season: Can Curtis Granderson be this year’s Nick Swisher?

  1. Great article Giuseppe. I've loved Grandy from day 1 and totally agree about his bounceback. I reckon his new teammates along with quality K-Long time will prove highly beneficial.As for defense, I do think people need to take a breather from Gardner's sack & small sample UZR…I don't want anyone starting in CF other than Curtis

  2. Welcome, Joe! I enjoyed your post.I too suspect Granderson will have a bounce back year. I wanted him for my fantasy team, but since i had the last pick as a newb, it didn't happen. Unlike the Sals, I think Granderson will hit 35 HR this year, and I think Swisher will too – although I do think Granderson could hit more than 35.I like UZR in principle, but when I see the numbers, I get confused. Tex's numbers in particular confuse me – i feel like what i see with my eyes doesn't match the number on the screen. but i think its a mistake to put Gardner in center because i dont want to jerk granderson around. it seems necessary as Granderson will most likely be with this team for a few seasons while Gardner's future is much less certain

  3. Gardener career = as useful as a wet cardboard cutoutI can't wait to see Grandy hit his first jack…what do you think old man Sterling might use as his HR call?Nice work here Joe

  4. Sterling HR Call for Curtis Granderson: "Ain't it Grand!"Sterling Grand Slam call for Curtis Granderson: "…"Susan: "John?"[ka-boom]"John! Somebody call 911! Ugh! I've got Sterling's brains all over my face!"