Draft Day Decision: Why Curtis Granderson Is Too Big Of A Risk Early In The 2nd Round

Curtis Granderson not only had one of the best seasons in baseball in 2011, but no one could’ve predicted the numbers he was going to produce.  There’s a difference between expecting an impressive season and expecting this:

583 At Bats
.262 Batting Average (153 Hits)
41 Home Runs
119 RBI
136 Runs
25 Stolen Bases
.364 On Base Percentage
.552 Slugging Percentage
.295 Batting Average on Balls in Play

The numbers were off the charts and before we point to Yankee Stadium as the reason for his success, it was the furthest thing from the truth.  Just look at his home/road splits:

  • Home – .262, 21 HR, 62 RBI, 66 R and 12 SB in 279 AB
  • Road – .263, 20 HR, 57 RBI, 70 R and 13 SB in 304 AB

Are the home numbers marginally better since they came in 25 fewer AB?  Sure, but would anyone spit on those road numbers?  He was dominant regardless of where he played.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that people lust to own him for 2012.  According to Mock Draft Central his current ADP is 19.41 and has been selected as high as number 11 overall.  The question is, should we be targeting him that highly or would owners be better served to bypass him and select a middle infielder like Dustin Pedroia (18.83), Hanley Ramirez (19.50) or Jose Reyes (19.33)?  For me, the answer is a simple one.  Curtis Granderson isn’t going to be on the majority of my fantasy teams.

The fact is that the odds of Granderson coming reasonably close to the numbers he posted in 2011 are slim.  I am not about to say that it is impossible, but there are enough questionable numbers to make you pause.

First of all is his HR/FB, which was a career high 20.5% last season.  He posted a 14.5% in 2010 and in the four years before that he hadn’t been above 12.6%.  Throw in the fact that he was just one of nine hitters to qualify for the batting title and post a HR/FB of at least 20% and it’s hard to imagine another 40+ HR campaign.  He hadn’t hit more than 30 prior to 2011 and it’s a lot more realistic to think he’ll be closer to that mark than 41.

The runs scored were also a ridiculous total.  The second highest run total in 2011 was Ian Kinsler’s 121.  In fact since 2008 only two other players had scored at least 120 runs in a season (Albert Pujols had 124 in 2009 and Hanley Ramirez had 125 in 2008).  Loaded Yankees lineup or not, does anyone really believe 136 is going to be possible once again?

If he hits second in the lineup once again (he had 438 AB in the second spot last season) then sure, it may be possible.  However, it also isn’t unthinkable that he gets moved down towards the middle of the lineup as well.  We’ll have to wait and see, but I would go into the year expecting a number much closer to 100. 

Part of that has to do with his rising strikeout rate (coupled with a likely decrease in power), which will limit his potential to hit for a higher average.  Look at the trend over the past four seasons:

  • 2008 – 17.6%
  • 2009 – 19.9%
  • 2010 – 22.0%
  • 2011 – 24.5%

He also has posted fly ball rates of 49.3%, 47.2% and 48.0% the past three seasons, numbers that don’t lend themselves to high BABIPs.  In other words last season’s .262 could be the limit we should be expecting, especially considering he was under .250 the previous two seasons.

Throw in the fact that, if he does hit second once again, can we really expect him to surpass 100 RBI once again?  It’s hard to imagine. 

I’m not about to say that I wouldn’t like to own Granderson, but things look a lot different when you are talking about someone that may hit .250 with 30 HR, 90 RBI, 100 R and 15 SB as opposed to the sick numbers he posted in 2011.  He’s a great player, but I would rather use a second round pick to get one of the elite middle infielders in the game.  Reyes/Pedroia/Ramirez all have the potential to post similarly productive numbers, though all will do so with a higher average and by filling a shallower position.  If I have the choice, I’m picking one of them over Granderson every time.

What about you?  Would you draft Granderson in the second round?  Why or why not?

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  1. TY says:

    It wouldn’t even cross my mind to take granderson. This is the same dude that 24 HR’s the year before last and batted .247?

    An extremely lucky year is going to inflate his draft status. There’s many more for sure type players around that pick that I’d rather have than gamble on Granderson.

    Don’t pay for a players career year. That was Grandersons Career year.

    • Matt says:

      Wouldn’t even cross your mind? 6th or 7th round??? Haha. I wish you and Marky Mark were in my fantasy league. That’s all I can say.

  2. Red says:

    Grandy worked with the hitting coach for the yankees and made an adjustment to his swing late in 2010. If you look at his splits for vs lhp and vs rhp earlier in 09 and 10, he put up numbers for this pace against rhp but struggled against lhp. the adjustment he made showed better results against lhp late in 2010 and carried over to 2011. i think his results are legit, maybe not to this degree but he will be dominant year after year from here on out since he is now productive against lhp.

  3. Marky Mark says:

    I’ll be treating Granderson in the same way I treat Holliday and Hamilton every year….If I can grab him in the 6th or 7th round, then I’ll probably begrudgingly do it.

    But somebody else will surely take him before then, so I don’t have to worry about it.

    • TY says:

      6th or 7th? haha i’m thinking thats an exxaggeration? Holliday hasn’t went later than the 2nd round since 2005.

      Im with you though. The only way I’m taking grandy is if I see him there in the 4th/5th round, and he wont be so he wont be on any of my teams.

      Grandys on the bad side of 30, turning 31 in march, i’m just not going to be paying a 2nd round pick in 2012 for the stats he put up in 2011.

      • Marky Mark says:

        Not really much of an exaggeration, really.

        I can’t count on Hamilton for more than 110 games, maybe he gets there and maybe he don’t. Not what I want in a high pick.

        As for Holliday, it’s mostly a hangover from his days in Coors. I have a hard time justifying the pick of what amounts to a fantasy platoon player, someone you have to bench when they either go on the road/play at home because of the massive gap in their splits.

        It kept me from targeting Adrian Gonzalez when he played at Petco, and it kept me from Holliday when he was a Rockie. My stance on Adrian has changed, but for some reason, I’ve still got that mentality about Holliday. I’m just not interested.

        • Rotoprofessor says:

          I would disagree about Holliday. He was limited by injuries in ’11 but hit .296 with 22 HR and 75 RBI over 446 AB. Those aren’t far off from his first season in St. Louis (.312, 28 HR, 103 RBI in 596 AB).

          I can see arguing that his value is going to be hurt based on the loss of Pujols, but I think he’s proven he can be an extremely productive player outside of Colorado.

          • Marky Mark says:

            He has indeed. It’s just some mental block that I can’t/won’t shake for whatever reason. Somebody will always draft him before I’d be willing to.

  4. MIke S. says:

    Is Granderson last year’s Bautista?

    I mean, I don’t think anyone had Bautista as a first-round pick in 2011, notwithstanding his great 2010. Last year, I got him in the third round (32 overall).

    How many owners will be kicking themselves when Granderson repeats (or comes close, or, gasp, exceeds his last year)?

    The thing with Granderson is that you can be fairly confident you will at least (barring injury) get a 25-25 season from him. So your downside isn’t awful – it’s jsut the difference between that and what you’d otherwise draft.

    But all that upside? From someone whose done it before? And plays on the Yankees? With good batting order protection?

    For me, that has second-round pick written all over it.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      His best seasons are 26 SB (’07) and 25 SB (’11). Twice he’s posted 12 SB (’08 & ’10). It’s impossible for me to say his downside is 25/25.

      I think his downside is 25/15 to go with an average under .250, which would definitely change his outlook on where he gets selected.

  5. Ender says:

    People seem to forget he was hurt for part of 2010. If you prorate his first season with the Yankees into full time play he put up a line of .247, 95, 30, 84, 15. That is likely the floor with last year being the ceiling. He should be going in the early 2nd round most likely though i’d want to pair him up with a high AVG guy if I could.

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