10 Explanations for Curtis Granderson Abandoning the Stolen Base

Stephen SkinnerContributor IIMay 25, 2012

10 Explanations for Curtis Granderson Abandoning the Stolen Base

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    He has averaged 19 stolen bases over the past five seasons, including 25 swipes in 2011.  Every year Curtis Granderson seems to be a 30/30 threat as he combines great power with great speed. 

    This year has been a different story.

    Through 44 games, Granderson has only one stolen base in three attempts.

    This article will examine 10 possible reasons why the Yankee center fielder is keeping his weapon of speed in its holster.

10. Age

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    Curtis Granderson entered the major leagues at the age of 23.  This season is his ninth, and at the age of 31, he is now an experienced veteran.

    Has "Father Time" finally caught up with the Yankee center fielder?  Perhaps the wear and tear of nine seasons hustling between base paths and roaming center fields has taken its toll. 

9. Granderson Has Become a Power Hitter

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    In his first three seasons of at least 140 games, Curtis Granderson hit 64 home runs.  In his next three, he hit 95.  This season he has 14 through 44 games—a 51 HR pace. 

    Is it possible that as Granderson develops into a power hitter, he is sacrificing stolen bases?

    The numbers for 2011 would suggest not, but looking at what he has done in 2012 does make one wonder.

8. Protecting the Number Three Hitter

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    The New York Yankees inability to hit with runners in scoring position is no secret.  Has that team weakness affected Curtis Granderson's stolen base attempts?

    For a majority of the time, Robinson Cano has hit behind Granderson in the Yankee lineup, and after a slow start to the season, he has raised his average to over .300. 

    Is it possible that the Yankees do not want to take the bat out of their best hitter's hands by reigning in Granderson's stolen bases?  In cases where the Yankee center fielder steals second in front of Cano, there is the chance that the opponent will choose to pitch around the second baseman to get to the struggling fourth spot in the order.

7. Hitting with Runners in Scoring Position Blues

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    As I mentioned, the New York Yankees are having difficulty hitting with runners in scoring position.  In fact, the team is the worst in the league in that category.

    Among the greatest offenders on the squad is Curtis Granderson.  He is hitting a paltry .235 with men on second and third base. 

    Those in baseball know that struggles in one category can affect all aspects of a player's game.  Is it possible that "Grandy" is just trying too hard and the result is when he does get on base, the last thing on his mind is swiping a bag?

6. Dependency on the Long Ball

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    Let's face it, the New York Yankees live and die with the home run.  Of their 23 wins to this point, only once have they experienced a victory without hitting a "dinger."

    The fact is the "Bombers" are not a small-ball team, and as a result, they do not look to steal bases.  When a man is on first, they aren't looking to move him over via a bunt or stolen base.  Instead, they look for a fence-clearing hit to get the runners home.

    This could be why Curtis Granderson hasn't looked to steal many bases in 2012.

5. Lefties vs Righties

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    Speedy runners on first base prefer to utilize their base-stealing skills against right-handed pitchers.  Right-handers have their backs turned to first base when on the mound, allowing runners a little more discrepancy in leading off and getting a jump on a pitch.

    Curtis Granderson is hitting .241 against right-handed hurlers and .286 against left-handers.  Quite simply, he's getting on base at a better rate against southpaws.

    Perhaps if his average against right-handed throwers improves, so will his base stealing.

4. Poor Average Leading off Innings

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    The simple fact of the matter is that Curtis Granderson isn't hitting when he leads off an inning.  If he isn't getting on base, he isn't going to get any stolen base attempts.

    To date "Grandy" is hitting .226 when he starts an inning at the plate for the Yankees. 

    If he improves that average, you will see an increase in his base swipes.

3. Hitting Sixth in the Order

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    Since 2010, Curtis Granderson has hit in the sixth spot in the New York Yankees lineup 57 times -- including 38 this season. 

    Not once while in the "sixth hole" has he attempted to steal a base.

    This season has seen manager Joe Girardi bounce Granderson between the second and sixth spots in the batting order depending upon whether the team is facing a left handed or right handed hurler.

    It is the most that the Yankee center fielder has been that low in the lineup during his time in the Bronx and clearly it is a spot that doesn't encourage Granderson to use his speed on the paths.

2. It Is a Continuation from the End of 2011

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    Even though Curtis Granderson swiped 25 bases last season, in September he hit .235 and stole exactly one base.

    It would appear that his "slow down" in stolen bases is a continuation of that last month in 2011.  For whatever reason, what we are seeing from Granderson in 2012 seems to have taken root last season.

1. Curtis Granderson Doesn't Steal Many Bases Early in the Season

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    Curtis Granderson hasn't stolen many bases in the first couple of months of any season as a Yankee.  As a matter of fact, "Grandy" swiped exactly two bases in each of his previous three Aprils in the Bronx.  Through May of last season, his stolen base total sat at six (he ended the season with 25). 

    That isn't much higher than where he is this year, and given his lower batting average this season, you could almost say that his drop-off in SB really isn't shocking. 

    The bottom line is that if you couple the fact that Granderson doesn't really attempt many steals early in the season with some of the obvious differences in 2012 (lower average, hitting sixth, emphasis on power), you will find an explanation for the center fielder's decline on the base paths.