During the next few weeks we'll be running a series of individual season reviews for the members of the 2010 Yankees, somewhat similar to what I did with the season reviews last November only more comprehensive and probably more granular. Last year I did five group posts for the infield, outfield, starting pitching, bullpen and bench and designated hitter; this year we're going to give each member of the starting lineup and rotation their own posts, while grouping the Yankees three DHs, the bullpen and the bench into respective posts of their own.
Our first season in review candidate is Curtis Granderson (mind you, these are being written in no particular order whatsoever). As you know, Granderson was acquired via a multi-player trade last December, and was penciled in as the Yankees' starting center fielder, despite many feeling as though Brett Gardner was likely a superior fielder and that the two should perhaps switch positions, as well as the fact that there were growing concerns over Granderson's seemingly deteriorating ability to hit lefthanded pitching.
As we touched on in last week's Positive Storylines post, the Granderson deal ultimately turned out to be a solid trade for the Yankees. Here's what he did in 2010:
While the season wOBA is a touch low (it's never a great sign when a player hypothetically in the prime of their career underperforms their career wOBA), considering the depths of where Curtis started out from, it's tough to quibble with his .346 mark.
Curtis kicked his Yankee career off in style, torching the Red Sox to the tune of a .515 wOBA after the season's inaugural three-game set, but things quickly went downhill, as Granderson closed out the season's first month with a lowly .314 wOBA. Adding insult to (soon-to-be) injury was the fact that Austin Jackson announced his arrival to MLB in rather unexpected fashion, putting up an eye-popping .410 wOBA in April, though that number was primarily fueled by an insane and ridiculously unsustainable .530 BABIP. Regardless, second-guessing abounded, and Curtis didn't help matters much after coming up lame in the May 1 game against the White Sox, which would end up shelving him for just under a month.
Grandy's return to the lineup was much-needed, but he -- like the rest of the team -- struggled offensively in June, and managed another disappointing .323 monthly wOBA. After a slightly improved July, things came to a head for Curtis while the team was in Texas in mid-August. To that point in the season Granderson's struggles off lefthanded pitching had continued right where they'd left off the year before, and the Yankees were determined to finally fix Curtis. After a two-day session with Kevin Long, Granderson returned to the lineup a new man, not only hitting lefties with far more authority than he'd been, but hitting everyone better than he'd been.
Though Curtis only wOBA'd .324 in August, he hit .248/.347/.515 in the 19 August games post-Long-reinvention, and he carried that newfound swagger into September, where he put up a molten-hot .411 wOBA, tied with Alex Rodriguez for the top monthly mark on the team.
Granderson went on to be the Yankees' second-best offensive weapon in the postseason -- not to mention the only hitter besides Robinson Cano that even showed up in the ALCS -- and hit to an absurd .476 wOBA.
Though Curtis' wOBA was once again under .300 against lefties in 2010 (.289), it was a vast improvement from 2009's .223. His .363 mark against righties is a solid showing, and one hopes he can maintain the strides he's made against lefties while driving that RHP wOBA back up to somewhere around its 2007/2008/2009 level of .425/.389/.382.
Curtis unsurprisingly hit better at home (.370 wOBA) than on the road (.323), but I'm going to guess nearly everyone in the starting lineup did so, given how much more potent the Yankees were at home than on the road this season. Then again, so was just about everyone else, as all of Major League Baseball hit to a .783 OPS at Yankee Stadium -- the highest such mark in the American League, and 2nd-highest in MLB after Coors Field.
The other major aspect of Curtis' game is his defense, which was by most accounts -- at least anecdotally -- pretty excellent. Though it seems he occasionally gets poor reads on fly balls, he more than makes up for any bad jumps with his speed. Per Fangraphs, he put up 5.3 UZR (5th-best in the AL) and 6.6 UZR/150 (3rd-best in the AL). B-Ref wasn't in love with his defense (-0.4 dWAR), though for what it's worth B-Ref had A-Jax at the same dWAR, so I'm not really sure what to make of that.
In addition to being fast -- a Fangraphs speed score of 6.7, 9th-best in the American League; along with an 86% SB rate -- Granderson also runs the bases extremely well. Who could forget his scoring the go-ahead run on a money slide just underneath Russell Martin's tag in the epic comeback against the Dodgers at the end of June? However, despite being one of the better baserunners in the league, Granderson posted a relatively meager 40% XBT percentage (exactly league average), down from 48% in 2009. Perhaps with such a well-stocked offense Curtis didn't feel the need to take as many chances on the basepaths, but I wouldn't mind seeing a bit more aggression from Grandy (and especially Brett Gardner) next season.
Overall, I think Granderson had a decent-enough first season in pinstripes -- his 3.6 fWAR was worth $14.3 million according to Fangraphs, a very nice value for a player who made $5.5 million this past season -- but I certainly expect him to perform even better in 2011. A second straight .346 wOBA campaign might be enough for even the most patient Yankee fans to start getting the pitchforks out, though if he wOBAs near .500 again in the postseason his regular season will likely be a moot point.