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Going Behind the Numbers on Granderson

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I'm setting aside my mixed feelings on dealing away two of our most valuable trade chips for a guy who hit .183/.245/.239 against lefties.

I know that he put up a 3.5 WARP3 despite his struggles.

I know that Dave Cameron gave the move an A+ for the Yanks.

So I wanted to look at three quick measurement (courtesy of Fangraphs) to try to determine whether the Yanks have pulled off another Swisher, bringing in a player ready to bounce back after an off season.

Batting Average on Balls In Play.

Old Faithful.  Sure enough, Granderson's BABIP was .276 in 2009, .063 below his previous career average.  His K% and BB% stayed in line with his 2008 output, and his LD% suggests that he should have expected a BABIP around .330.

Much like Jeter's inexplicable 2004, these kind of bad seasons happen to every player.

Batted Ball Data

Granderson's LD% has never fluctuated more than 2%, and his 2009 showing was actually above his career average.  That's a good sign.

But there are bad signs in Batted Ball, too.  My biggest concern is his nearly 10% jump in his Flyball Percentage, from 40.7% all the way to 49.3%  Swisher and Tex had the highest FB% of any of the Yankee regulars at 45.6% and 43.8%, respectively.  While a lefty hitting flies in Yankee Stadium would seem like the definition of a good thing, I'm worried that after averaging 5.8% Infield Flies for his first 3 full season, that number soared to 13% last season.

To me this suggests that a problem with pitch selection, popping up pitches that might be in the wrong part of the zone or not adjusting to offspeed (the way Swisher looked in the playoffs).

Pitch Type Seen

Thanks to the pF/X data on Fangraphs, we know that over the last 4 seasons Granderson has seen a fastball 58.85% of the time, and 58.5% of the time last season.  The off-speed pitches were just as in line- a 0.25% difference for sliders, a 0.15% difference for curves, and a 0.15% difference in changeups.

To see someone who can't handle a certain pitch, look at the transformation in how Soriano was pitched after his weakness on the slider was exposed in the '03 World Series.

While this doesn't address pitch order (does he chase sliders after seeing a fastball, does he look for a particular pitch early and consistantly fall behind in the count?), and it doesn't tell us if there's a hole in his swing, I find it encouraging for what it is.

Early Conclusions

It could have been an unlucky season (Cano RISP) or a bad season.  Maybe Kevin Long sees the fix for a mechanical mistake. 

After going through the numbers here, I'm no longer as negative on the trade as I was when it first went down.  I think Granderson is due for a bounce-back.

I'll be looking for someone able to give me a scouting report on Granderson's tendancies- has he changed his swing?  Is he trying to pull everything (a la Matsui)?  Does he get fooled by a certain type of pitch (Soriano) or have trouble with a particular location (Giambi)?  But until I get good evidence otherwise, I'll expect a strong 2010 from Grandy.

Welcome aboard.