In my opinion, Curtis Granderson is the best center fielder in the American League and also the best player on the Detroit Tigers. Yes, it's true that he is only hitting .258 right now, and it's also true that he's received a lot more help this year from his corner outfielders than he has in his three previous seasons, but he has had one of the most exciting first three seasons a player could have without making the all-star team.
It was a crime that he didn't make the team in his historic 2007 campaign in which he became the second player to ever have a quadruple 20 season, having more than 20 home runs, 20 doubles, 20 triples, and 20 steals. On top of that, he batted over .300 that year and made the best catch of the season, robbing Wily Mo Pena of a home run on July 8 of that year.
Although he has his weaknesses and has a tendency to be inconsistent at times, he is also one of the most exciting players in the game. I believe that it would be a crime if he doesn't appear on the field in St. Louis on July 14.
I think that he has been the catalyst that has enabled the Tigers to get first place. His 13 home runs led the team and he is on pace to hit at least 30 this year, which would be a career high for him. He's also on pace for over 20 stolen bases for the second time in his career. But neither of those comes close to showing why he's this team's catalyst or why he should be an All-Star. For proof of that, you have to look at a game on May 8.
Justin Verlander got the start that day and shut the Cleveland Indians out, giving up two hits through the first seven innings. At the top of the eighth, Granderson got a one-out walk, stole second, moved up to third on a groundout, and scored the go-ahead run on an infield single with two outs.
Fast-forward to the bottom of the ninth. Verlander continued to pitch a gem. He had struck out 10 players, but he might have been in trouble, here. There was a man on first with one out and Grady Sizemore was at the plate as the potential winning run.
He scorched one to deep center field and it looked like it was out of the park. But Granderson leaped up, climbed that wall, reached over it, caught the ball, landed on his feet, and nearly doubled off of Josh Barfield at first.
Verlander struck out the next batter to complete the gem and promptly bought the man dinner. That game started a 10-3 run during the next 13 games for the Tigers, leading them to capture first place in the central division.
Granderson is the kind of player that the Major Leagues should be promoting as a star. He cares about his community. He has a charity that raises money for inner city sports programs called Grand Kids. In addition to his big heart and athletic ability, he also knows how to use his head. He blogs for Yahoo Sports and has a college degree from the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Everything about the guy suggests that he would be a good distraction for a league that has been riddled with accusations of steroid use and arrogant, aloof star players. Granderson, by contrast, is accessible and beloved by fans, teammates, and local media alike, and I'd like to see Fox do a package on the good he's doing.