by Jeremy Tiermini
The joys of Spring Training: every team is in first place, every team dreams of the playoffs and every team dreams of making it to the World Series. All is right with the world. Then your favorite team, with players so old we can’t afford for one of them to sneeze wrong, loses its starting left fielder and one of its few true home run threats. Welcome to Yankees baseball, 2013 style!
During his first at-bat of the spring, Curtis Granderson got drilled with a fastball from J.A. Happ. The initial thought was that the injury was just a forearm contusion (i.e. medical speak for “bruise”) but x-rays revealed a fracture. As a left-handed batter, Granderson’s right arm would be the bottom hand holding the bat, so the “pinky side” of his forearm would be facing the pitcher. Based on video of the incident I am guessing this injury is a fractured ulna, which is the forearm bone that runs along the “pinky side” of the forearm.
Generally these fractures will heal normally with a proper period of immobilization, which is why the initial timetable calls for Granderson to be out until early May. The biggest concern is that the injury is to his bottom hand, or the “power hand” of his swing. Being a wrist injury, the immediate thought is that “wrist injuries sap power”. I lived this last year with Pablo Sandoval’s injury. Jayson Werth is another example of a player with a wrist injury and lowered power numbers from 2012. So, with those two pieces of anecdotal evidence to go by, will Granderson’s power numbers drop off this year with the fractured wrist?
I found two articles in a quick attempt at research: “Wrist Injuries and Power: A Quick Glance” (found by clicking here) and “Albert Pujols and the Effects of the Wrist Injury” (found by clicking here). Of course, the articles don’t reach a consensus on the effects of a wrist injury on power. So let’s look at Curtis Granderson’s case alone.
- Initial reports say Granderson will be “Major League-ready” in about 10 weeks, which would be May 5. With the Yankees off on May 6 I bet they give him that extra rest and makes his season-debut, at the earliest, on May 7. Erring on the side of caution, I am betting it takes him another 2 weeks to feel 100%.
- Granderson will be 32 by the time he gets back in action, so he is on the downside of his career. I would naturally expect a regression from the 43 HR he hit last year.
- After some progress, his performance against left-handed pitchers suffered in 2012.
- FanGraphs noted that Granderson struggled against off-speed pitches last season and his performance when seeing fastballs dropped in 2012, as well.
I think these are some pretty damning pieces of evidence. Granderson is one of the few Yankees hitters that can hit the ball out of the park on a consistent basis, so opposing pitchers won’t feel the need to challenge him with fastballs. My initial projection for Granderson, based on the Yankees roster and his declining contact rate, would have been for just 30 HR. Take away one month of production and Granderson falls into the 24-25 HR range and, if he has any issues at all with his wrist… Well, it would not surprise me to see him post fewer than 20 HR this season. Granderson, because of his name and back-to-back 40 HR seasons, won’t come cheap. Do you really want to overpay for a guy that posts the following line:
(Fantasy Training Room’s prediction) 20 HR, 80 RBI, 75 runs, 5 SB and a .230 average?
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