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Curtis Granderson's Defense


I was having a conversation with someone a little while back about Curtis Granderson, and the person insisted that he doesn't like Granderson as a center fielder. Granderson may not be the best defensive center fielder on the team, as that title probably belongs to Brett Gardner. However, for the most part, Granderson had passed my eye test as an above average center fielder.

Since that conversation took place, I've seen Granderson do some things that made me scratch my head. He's taken some routes that haven't exactly been direct and he's gotten some poor reads on balls. For example, I've seen him take his first step back on balls where he really should have recognized that the ball was never going to get over his head. On those occasions, the ball fell into no-man's land for a hit.

When the Yankees acquired Granderson, I expected to see a great defensive center fielder at work. Between 2005-2009, Granderson was worth nearly 5 wins as a defender alone. UZR, however, had mixed feelings about his defense. He had a few elite defensive seasons in 2006 and 2007, but 2008 and 2009 left little to be desired.

After becoming a Yankee, Granderson battled some injuries and his first season was largely labeled a bust. However, both fangraphs and Baseball-Reference liked his defense. He posted 1.6 dWAR and 6.4 UZR, both above average numbers that gave fans something to look forward to in 2011. However, in the last two years, neither fangraphs nor Baseball-Reference likes his defense. He currently has a -9.6 UZR and -0.5 dWAR. His biggest issue has apparently been his range, where he is -18.5 runs below average since 2011 began according to fangraphs.

His poor range scores seem to go hand-in-hand with what I've noticed about him recently. Granderson is prone to inconsistent routes and poor jumps, and that leads to extra hits and extra bases, especially since he is responsible for two gaps.

For now, I'll leave this open for discussion. What are your impressions of Granderson's defense? Does he pass your eye test, or do the defensive metrics match what you've seen from him?