Taking the good and the bad with Curtis Granderson
By most accounts, 2015 has been a resurgent season for Curtis Granderson.
For the most part, he has produced better in every major offensive category, and has been the Mets most consistent, everyday hitter, and it’s not even close.
His 121 wRC+ is 48th best in baseball, he along with Yoenis Cespedes have 20 home runs, the 30th best mark in baseball, his 3.4 fWAR is 32nd best as well. His 117 OPS+ is his best mark since 2011.
Compared to 2014, he’s swinging at fewer bad balls, making contact with more strikes, all while being more selective as he’s swinging at fewer pitches overall. He’s been a middle of the order force for the Mets while embracing his role admirably at the top of the order, posting a .346 OBP while slugging six of his 20 home runs when leading off a game.
All of this is wonderful, and he’s a big reason why the Mets are even able to think about playing baseball beyond October 4 in 2015.
There is one problem however, something which has proven to overexpose Granderson.
Granderson has a .150 average, .410 OPS and a wRC+ of just 16 against left-handed pitching, the second worst marks among all qualified players in baseball this season. His .196 OBP against left-handed pitching is the fourth worst in baseball among qualified players.
That’s not just bad. Whatever threat he is at the plate is completely neutralized when he’s facing left-handers, and was unquestionably exploited and even more exposed during the last week against both the Rockies and Pirates.
Over Granderson’s last seven games, he is 2-for-23 with a home run, two walks and eight strikeouts. In those seven games, Granderson has faced left-handers Boone Logan (HBP, BB), Chris Rusin (0-for-3), Jorge De La Rosa (0-for-3), Christian Friedrich (sac fly), JA Happ (1-for-3), Antonio Bastardo (0-for-2), Tony Watson (0-for-1), and Jeff Locke (0-for-3), equaling a 1-for-15 performance against left-handed pitching over his last seven games.
Now, the Mets were without Lucas Duda for five of those seven games, and in all probability, Terry Collins would have been able to protect Granderson’s weakness against southpaws more if Duda had been available.
That scenario would have had Michael Cuddyer in right field and Duda at first, with Granderson being a weapon off the bench instead. As difficult as it’s been for Cuddyer to get on track, that formula is still better than what Collins was ultimately forced to go with against those match-ups.
This is going to be something Collins must consider down the stretch of the season as well as potentially in the playoffs. Based on statistics alone, this is an easy problem for teams to solve from a match-up perspective late in games, and a key to neutralizing any threat involving Granderson and limiting damage as a result.
This isn’t meant to diminish Granderson’s accomplishments this season.
In fact, limiting his exposure to left-handed pitching will not only make him more productive, but could conceivably increase the overall production out of right field.