MLB Playoffs: How the Curtis Granderson Trade in 2009 Affects the ALCS

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MLB Playoffs: How the Curtis Granderson Trade in 2009 Affects the ALCS
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Granderson's struggles have contributed to the power outage in the Bronx this October.

In a blockbuster trade that landed center fielder Curtis Granderson back in 2009, the New York Yankees looked like they had landed a key component of their team.

Granderson had always been quick, capable of stealing 20 bases in a season and covering a large range in the outfield. Although his batting average was down to .249 in 2009, his last season with the Detroit Tigers, his power numbers were coming together, as he had just hit 30 home runs for the first time.

However, since coming to New York, Granderson has transformed into a different type of player.

This is not the Granderson who batted .302/.361/.552 with 38 doubles and an astounding 23 triples with 26 steals (and getting caught stealing just once) in 2007. This is not the Granderson who had 111 strikeouts in 2008.

Instead, the Yankees got a Granderson who hit .232/.319/.492 this season with 18 doubles, 4 triples, 10 steals and 195 strikeouts.

Granted, he did have 43 home runs, tied for second in the majors with Josh Hamilton and trailing Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera by just one.

The point is, Granderson is a different type of player now than he was in Detroit. Instead of using his speed, agility, and contact rate to get on base and be aggressive on the base paths, he instead relies on the long ball in a small park, swinging for the fences instead of settling for singles.

Although this "new" Granderson may have the higher home run totals, the Granderson of old was more valuable.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Austin Jackson has had a remarkable year and will soon force Yankee fans to regret this trade.

In terms of WAR, Granderson's career high was, of course, in 2007 with the Tigers, where his WAR was 7.2. Since Granderson has changed his approach, his WAR has declined, as it was down to just 2.7 this season.

In fact, Granderson has been so bad, that he is reportedly being benched for Game 4 of the ALCS against his former team (http://espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/story/_/id/8520443/alex-rodriguez-curtis-granderson-new-york-yankees-remain-benched-game-4-2012-alcs-detroit-tigers). This postseason, he is batting 3 for 29 with 15 strikeouts. Alex Rodriguez is also getting benched, and he has been subject to a lot of hate in the media, but Granderson has actually been statistically worse at the plate this October.

So how does this impact that trade way back in 2009?

Just as a reminder of the terms of the deal, the Yankees acquired Granderson while surrendering Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Austin Jackson and lefty reliever Phil Coke to the Detroit Tigers. The D-backs also got Edwin Jackson from the Tigers, while sending Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth to Detroit.

So essentially, the Yankees could have had Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy this October instead of Granderson.

On the other hand, the Tigers could have had Granderson and maybe Edwin Jackson (he later became a free agent) instead of Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Max Scherzer, and Daniel Schlereth.

Quietly hiding behind the presences of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson has put together a stellar performance. At just 25 years of age, Jackson hit .300/.377/.479 with 16 home runs. He also has plus speed, and therefore is a solid defender in center field. With 34 doubles and 10 triples, Jackson's numbers are approaching those of Granderson's back when he played for the Tigers.

If this trade didn't happen, how would it impact the 2012 ALCS?

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Let's not forget about Max Scherzer, either. His 16-7 record with a 3.74 ERA and 1.27 WHIP are solid. His 231 strikeouts are second in the league only to his teammate Justin Verlander. We all know that the playoffs has a lot to do with not necessarily who is the best team, but which team is playing the best leading up to and during the playoffs, so perhaps even more impressive are his numbers recently. Scherzer did not allow a run in October until today, and had an ERA of 2.17 in September, with hitters batting just .196 against him during that time.

The Tigers also acquired Phil Coke, a decent lefty reliever out of the bullpen. Daniel Schlereth is a non-factor this postseason, as he is currently on the 60-day DL.

Not only did the Tigers land a quality pitcher in this trade, but the Yankees lost one. Ian Kennedy, who holds a 3.55 ERA over the past three seasons, has proved to be a dependable starter with the Diamondbacks. He has started over 30 games in each season in Arizona, and while he may have had his worst season as a D-back so far, it was certainly not a bad season by any means. A 4.02 ERA with a 1.30 WHIP—if it translated to a league with a DH—would fit nicely into the Yankees rotation, likely as a replacement for Phil Hughes, and this would give both their rotation and bullpen more depth.

This trade swapped a pair of bats, with Detroit landing the one with better upside, and the trade costs New York a solid starter and netted the Tigers one in return. Who knew a trade like this could have such an impact on the 2012 ALCS just a few years later?

Right now, the Tigers are the better team. If the Yankees had Jackson and Kennedy and the Tigers had Granderson and were without Scherzer, who knows how this series would have played out.

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