Yankees Center Fielder Curtis Granderson's Ongoing Second Act

Steven GoldmanMLB Lead BloggerApril 20, 2012

Curtis Granderson: Proof that Scott Fitzgerald was wrong.
Curtis Granderson: Proof that Scott Fitzgerald was wrong.Chris Trotman/Getty Images

When Curtis Granderson hit three home runs in Thursday’s game, he became part of a very short list of Yankees to have done so.

Babe Ruth did it in the World Series twice—both times in St. Louis, oddly enough, and Reggie Jackson emulated him in 1977. Most of the other players are hitters you might expect—Tony Lazzeri, Lou Gehrig (who also hit four in a game), Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Charlie Keller, Johnny Mize, Mickey Mantle…basically, Hall of Fame and MVP-level guys.

There are also a few who might surprise you, like Paul O’Neill, who was a very good hitter but not a pure slugger, and Tony Clark, a very nice man whose stint in pinstripes was not particularly notable. Then there are a few guys who had terrific hitting ability, such as Cliff Johnson, Mike Stanley, Darryl Strawberry and Bobby Murcer, whose careers, for various reasons, weren’t all that they might otherwise have been.

Which category Granderson will eventually belong to remains an open question. At age 30, in largely unprecedented fashion, he reinvented himself, changing from an overly strikeout-prone player who desperately needed to be platooned into an MVP candidate.

Prior to an August 2010 tutoring session with Kevin Long, Granderson had hit .269/.340/.476, which broke down .289/.364/.524 against right-handers—.209/.266/.334 against left-handers. Since, he has hit .263/.363/.563, and that includes .258/.366/.566 against right-handers and .274/.356/.556 against left-handers. He’s like a new player.

Granderson is 31, so he’s getting close to exiting the typical peak period for hitters. There's no telling how many more seasons at his current level he can get in before his reflexes start to go, but if he can, the back of his baseball card will resemble a bell—not the usual bell-curve shape, low on both ends and high in the middle, but a literal bell, narrow on top and wide on the bottom.

He got a bit of a late start to be a Hall of Famer regardless, but it will be something new under the sun.