There is no way that anyone can convince me that Curtis Granderson is better than Bernie Williams, but there is no way that anyone can convince me that Bernie Williams was more valuable than Curtis Granderson.
While Granderson isn't even the best defensive outfielder on the New York Yankees (that honor belongs to Brett Gardner), Williams was only slightly above average on defense during his peak years. He and outfield walls became mortal enemies during Williams' last few seasons.
Nick Swisher plays to Granderson's left while Gardner patrols the outfield to Granderson's right.
Paul O'Neill versus Swisher is no contest, while Tim Raines, Chad Curtis, Ricky Ledee and Shane Spencer hold their own against Gardner. The point is that Granderson's Yankees don't have an outfielder of O'Neill's caliber, which emphasizes Granderson's value.
Williams was fast but he didn't really have the instincts of a base-stealer. He never stole more than 17 bases in a season, although he was a good baserunner. He wasn't Joe DiMaggio, but he was good.
Granderson stole 25 bases in 2011, which was within one of his career high. He is a fine baserunner, but he's no Joe DiMaggio going from first to third.
In both 2007 and 2008 with the Detroit Tigers, Granderson produced double-digit totals in doubles, triples and home runs. Although it might be hard to believe, he batted .302 in 2007. Williams led the league in batting in 1998 with a .339 mark.
Last season, Granderson hit a career-high 41 home runs and led the league by driving in 119 runs and scoring 136. On a team of superstars, Granderson was the Yankees MVP in 2011. Just ask Brett Gardner.
"Every night, when the lights turn on, you know he's going to give you everything he's got," Gardner said. "That's a pretty good compliment. He's not like me—slapping the ball to the left side and trying to run. He swings hard and doesn't get cheated. And he squares a lot of balls up.
"He's been right in the middle of everything for us. With the season he's had, needless to say, we wouldn't be anywhere close to where we are in the division without him."
Curt Schilling, a former pitcher that doesn't count the Yankees among the teams he roots for, is impressed with Granderson. He has referred to him as a "tremendous, humble, awesome" kid.
Left-handers have presented Granderson with less of a problem recently. He batted .272/.348/.597 against them last season with 16 home runs. If only he could bunt.
With Derek Jeter nearing the end of his career, Alex Rodriguez attempting to regain his stature as one of the game's best players and Mark Teixeira coming off a season in which, despite hitting 39 home runs, he batted an inconsistent .248, one realizes the value of Curtis Granderson.