Granderson's Troubling Power Outage

Curtis Granderson had an unusual season. What are the odds that a player would suffer a broken finger and a broken forearm from pitched balls in the same year? The question now is what kind of player he will be going forward. His 2013 statistics suggest that while he is still a productive hitter, he may no longer be the home-run hitter he once was.

Granderson is a distinctive player. He is not especially big (6 foot 1, 195 lbs.) and does not hit for a high average, but he has that Stadium stroke that lets him hook pitches into the short porch. In his four seasons with the Yankees, he has hit 115 home runs, with a high of 43 in 2012. That's the kind of power the Yankee lineup needs after going from first in the league in home runs in 2012 (245) to 14th this year (144).

If Granderson's 2013 numbers hold true, however, his home-run game may not be what it was. He had 245 plate appearances this season so the sample size is not insignificant.

His line was .229/.317/.407, compared to a 2012 line of .232/.319/.492 and a career line of .261/.340/.488. However, his ratio of home runs per plate appearance was .029, down from .063 in 2012 and .043 for his career. He hit only 7 HRs this season.

The drop in HRs is curious because his other batting numbers held steady. His batting average and on-base percent are very close to his 2012 numbers. His ratio of strikeouts to plate appearances held steady, too: .282 this season compared to .285 last season. This suggests that he makes contact as well as ever. His ratio of doubles to plate appearance was .053, up from .026 in 2012. One must wonder if balls that he used to hit out are now just splitting the outfielders.

One twist is his platoon splits. Over his career, Granderson has always had trouble with left-handed pitchers: .274/.357/.519 against right-handers but .226/.295/.409 against left-handers. In 2013, however, he hit better against left-handers than right-handers: .242/.356/.435 to .224/.300/.395. This is interesting but may be due to small sample size (72 plate appearances against left-handers).

One variable is conditioning. This off-season, Granderson will be able to focus on working out to replace any strength or quickness he lost from his injuries, and perhaps his home-run power will return. However, the loss of home-run power is something the Yankees must consider in deciding how hard to pursue him. A .230/.320 hitter with exceptional home-run power is a different creature than one with average power. Unfortunately, the Yankees must make a decision based, at least in part, on a season of 245 plate appearances.

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