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Curtis Granderson's AVG

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Curtis Granderson's AVG
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

A .187 AVG vs. left-handed pitching more often than not means that you are a platoon player.  Curtis Granderson hit just that against left-handed pitching in 2009.  Over the last three seasons Granderson has hit .201 against lefties and .302 against righties.  His highest AVG against left-handed pitching (min 100 at bats) was in 2007 when he hit .259 in 147 at bats against them.  That .259 is looking more and more like an outlier at this point.  Power wise, only two of his 28 homeruns last season came against left-handed pitching.

The thing is, when you hit 30 homeruns and steal 20 bases, you’re not a platoon player.  Before the 2009 season, Granderson had two straight seasons with an OBP over .360.  That number dropped to .327 in 2009, but so too did his BABIP.  For his career, Granderson has held a BABIP of .323.  In 2009 his BABIP fell to .276.  The immediate assumption is that such a low BABIP would rise toward .300.  However, Granderson did something else in 2009 that he had not done before.  Just under 50% of his balls in play were fly-balls and he had a 15% infield fly-ball rate, which helps explain his low BABIP. Both of those rates, perhaps, will be outliers for his career. 

Interestingly enough, Granderson has been slightly improving his plate discipline over the past couple of seasons.  What started with a contact rate of only 70% in 2006 has now risen little-by-little each season and reached the 80% mark in 2009.  During that time Granderson has not been inclined to chase more bad pitches and his BB/K rate is about league average. 

Over the past three seasons Granderson has seen quite a fluctuation in his AVG:

Year

AVG

BABIP

2007

0.302

0.362

2008

0.280

0.317

2009

0.249

0.276

What I’d expect looking toward 2010 is a rise in AVG somewhere between .249 and .280.  The high fly-ball rate and infield fly-ball rate should regress some, leading to a higher BABIP.  His AB/HR rate in 2009 was the highest of his career so expect some regression there as well.  As long as Granderson continues to hit right-handed pitching well, he’ll continue to be a solid everyday player.  All in all a line of .265/.350/.480 with 25 homeruns and 17-20 stolen bases looks like a good base for expectations.

Update: Since this article was originally written a lot has changed, specifically the trade that sent Granderson to the Yankees.  In that ballpark, in that lineup, his fantasy value receives a nice boost and 30-plus homeruns seems much more achievable.

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