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Curtis Granderson’s slump down the stretch

Curtis Granderson has not shown the power this season that the Yankees have grown accustomed to the past two years, and it has seriously hurt the team's chances at playing October baseball.

Al Bello

While Curtis Granderson made a terrific return from the DL, hitting .291/.412/.455 in his first 24 games back, his bat has fallen silent just as the games have gotten more and more meaningful. While it looked like he might be a major contributor that could help take the Yankees to a wild card berth, so far in September, Granderson is hitting just .182/.229/.439, with 3 HR and 5 RBI in 20 games. It's been an ugly month for Granderson and it couldn't have come at a worse time.

Sitting 2.5 games back with seven games left to play, the season can, optimistically, be seen as slipping away from the Yankees. While much of the blame for the Yankees inability to ever climb into a playoff spot rests on the pitching staff, Granderson's inability to find the power that has made him such an asset over the past two years has severely weakened the Yankee attack. Other than Robinson Cano, only Alfonso Soriano has done much damage down the stretch in September (.265 BA, 4 HR, 14 RBI this month). Alex Rodriguez has been okay lately, but the Yankees were certainly counting on Granderson to produce. And with the season on the line, he simply hasn't.

Granderson's struggles have resulted mainly from the fact that he simply hasn't hit home runs nearly as frequently as he did the past two years. His stats in his limited time this season look similar to the stats he put up in his first year with the Yankees and his last four years with the Detroit Tigers. In those five years (2006-2010, the first five years he was an everyday player), he hit .267 overall and averaged 24 home runs and 69 RBI. Decent numbers, but a far cry from the 43 HR and 106 RBI he put up last season.

In 2013, Granderson has hit .239 and, if he played at his current pace for 153 games (the average number of games he played per season from 2006-2012), he would only have 20 home runs and 40 RBI. Given that, during a whole season, he'd probably heat up for a month or two, these numbers would probably be closer to 25-30 home runs and 60-70 RBI, almost identical stats to those of 2006-2010. Additionally, his HR/FB% in 2013 is 13%, which is much closer to his career percentage, 15%, than it is to 2011's 20.5% and 2012's excellent 24.2%. Since he's hitting about the same amount of fly balls (43.5% of his balls in play this year, compared to 44% last year) this translates into a lot less production and a lot more outs.

This doesn't definitively prove that Granderson has lost the power that made him so dangerous these past couple years in New York. However, his performance this season does suggest that Granderson, on the wrong side of the 30, may be sliding out of his prime. And while he certainly had two home run happy seasons in the Bronx, is he now turning back into the solid player with decent power that he has been for the majority of his career?

Which begs another question: Should the Yankees re-sign Granderson?

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