Curtis Granderson continues to defy his statistical odds against left-handed pitching
For Curtis Granderson, one of the narratives throughout the 2015 season has been about his inability to hit left-handed pitching.
It was certainly supported by statistical facts. He had a .558 OPS against southpaws in 2015. He hit .183 with 48 strikeouts in 143 plate appearances against left-handers. Two of his 26 home runs came against left-handed pitching. He amassed just nine extra-base hits and 23 RBI.
His problems against left-handers had reached a point manager Terry Collins fielded questions about whether or not he’d have Granderson face left-handed pitching in the postseason.
As he has done all year long, Collins decided to go with his gut feeling that Granderson’s presence at the top of the lineup was most important, even against left-handed pitching, and anything he could produce at the top of the lineup in those situations would be an added benefit.
“I know his numbers aren’t great against left-hand pitching,” Collins said last week at Citi Field. “but I know one thing. you make a mistake and he can hit one over that fence in a hurry, or against the fence.
“So,” Collins continued, “he’s really played good for us.”
Needless to say, Collins relying on yet another gut feeling has paid off with his 2015 Mets, as Granderson has not missed a single inning of the postseason.
Those innings have included at-bats against Clayton Kershaw and now Jon Lester, two guys who, when looking at Granderson’s numbers against left-handed pitching during the regular year, would be expected to soak up Granderson’s plate appearances.
As it turns out, it’s been the other way around.
And on Saturday night against the Cubs, Granderson delivered two more RBI against a left-handed pitcher, this time at the expense of Lester. He singled in Juan Lagares with two outs in the fifth inning, and drove in Travis d’Arnaud with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning.
Those RBI were unquestionably difference-makers in their game one win over Chicago.
Granderson has hit .381 with seven RBI in six postseason games in 2015. Five of those RBI came in game three of the Division Series against the Dodgers, but all seven of his RBI have come against left-handed pitching during the playoffs.
Five of his eight hits have come against left-handed pitching in the postseason.
Again, Granderson had 23 hits and 14 RBI against left-handed pitching all year in 157 regular season games.
There’s so much deserved credit being assigned to Matt Harvey, Daniel Murphy, Travis d’Arnaud, and even Jeurys Familia, all of which is certainly well deserved.
But as is the case with Familia, where would the Mets be without Granderson? Especially in the playoffs?
It’s Granderson’s quiet heroics which made their heroism even possible. And that it’s taking place when the statistics suggest they shouldn’t for Granderson make it all that much more remarkable.