Curtis Granderson: Why New York Yankee Will Win MVP in 2012
Curtis Granderson had an MVP-type season this year but lost out to Justin Verlander who truly led his team to the playoffs.
However, that doesn't mean Granderson won't be able to have a similar season in 2012. In fact, he stands a good chance of being in the running for the MVP, even winning it.
Granderson has the tools to put together another MVP-caliber year. He's improved his swing with help from Kevin Long and figures to continue working on it to make himself even better.
He's Got the Bat, He's Got the Power
Dating back to the 2003 season, each one of the AL MVP who were position players all had at least 25 home runs with the exception of Dustin Pedroia in 2008.
In that same time span, each of those MVPs had at least 30 home runs except for Joe Mauer in 2009 who had 28.
Baseball has a trend of giving the MVP to guys who hit the long ball and hit it frequently.
Luckily for Curtis Granderson, he found his power stride and there's no reason for him to lose it anytime soon.
That short porch in left field in Yankee Stadium should help Granderson's cause, but the interesting thing is that he hit just as many homers away as he did at home: 21 at home and 20 away.
Granderson's got the power to be among some of the game's elites which should help his cause to win the MVP if he can replicate his 2011 power numbers.
One of the more important traits for an MVP is his ability to lead his team. It is called the "Most Valuable" Player award after all.
While some people argue what it means to be "Most Valuable," they can't argue that leadership is an important quality to look at when determining how valuable a player is to his team.
MVPs have to put the team on their back, rally the team together in tight games and losses and bring up the morale in tough situations.
That's what Justin Verlander did for this past season. That's what Joe Mauer did in 2009. That's what Dustin Pedroia did in 2008.
The team has to be able to count on them in dire times.
For the New York Yankees, they looked to Curtis Granderson to get them out of the tough spots.
More often than not, he delivered, putting the team on his back and leading them to victory by either hitting that game-winning home run or by saving runs with his glove.
Still in His Prime
Curtis Granderson is 30 years old. In baseball, a player's prime is roughly between 27 to 32, maybe 33 years old before the player starts to show signs of slipping.
Of course, there are exceptions (Mariano Rivera anyone?), but for the most part, you can expect a player to hit his peak in those years.
Therefore, Granderson has about two more years of producing his best numbers before he starts to decline.
MVPs are usually players who are in their primes and having career years. With Granderson being 30, turning 31 in March, he still has a couple of years left to produce big numbers.
There's little reason to see why he wouldn't put together another career year.
In Team Competition
I never thought I'd see myself saying that Curtis Granderson was one of the best players on the New York Yankees. Especially when he put up a .247 batting average in 2010, his first year in pinstripes.
And yet, here I am saying it because it's true.
When it comes down to it, Granderson, Robinson Cano, CC Sabathia, and Mariano "The Ageless Wonder" Rivera are the only ones who you can expect consistency from and rely on.
No one's sure if Derek Jeter's first half in the 2011 season was a fluke. Alex Rodriguez's body is starting to break down as injuries have limited his power. Mark Teixeira seems to be deathly allergic to hitting the ball the other way.
Then there's Brett "Hot and Cold" Gardner, Nick Swisher who's really more of a clubhouse, energy guy than an MVP, and Russell Martin who's there so Jesus Montero and his iron glove doesn't have to sit behind home plate.
Since pitchers rarely win the MVP, Justin Verlander was the first to do it since Dennis Eckersley in 1992 and the first starter since Roger Clemens in 1986 (sorry Pedro Martinez), it comes to either Granderson and Cano as who's going to win.
Right now, Granderson has more power and has put just about everything together whereas Cano's still improving, but it'll be a close race.
The Rest of the Competition
It isn't called an MVP race for nothing folks. Any player can win the MVP award as long as they can prove that they're MVP material of course.
This past season had some pretty good candidates, but it's a little hard to see them repeating as candidates.
Pitchers don't win the MVP award too often so it's hard to see Justin Verlander repeating even if he still dominates. It's also not too often for a pitcher to have back to back seasons of 24 wins or more in this era.
No one's sure what to expect from Jacoby Ellsbury (except for Red Sox nation who swear he's the product of combining Ted Williams' and Harry Hooper's genes) since nothing he's done before indicated that he had a 20 home run season in him, let alone 32.
Jose Bautista probably stands to be the biggest threat, but unless he unleashes Ruthian power, makes Hank Aaron look like Bucky Dent and the Toronto Blue Jays are significantly above .500, he won't win.
Other competitors include Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton and Evan Longoria, but they have some flaws in them that could cost them the trophy.
Granted, Granderson's not perfect, but he's good enough to compete with these guys and even win.