Curtis Granderson is a Monster!

JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

WHEN DID CURTIS GRANDERSON BECOME A 40 HOME RUN THREAT?!

The New York Yankees are facing the Texas Rangers this week (tonight's game will be nationally televised by ESPN) with a line up that has had many fans and pundits scratching their heads in terms of production.

  • Before straining a calf muscle Monday Night against Cleveland, Derek Jeter was off to a very disappointing start to the 2011 campaign. Everyone's talking about his quest for 3,000 hits. Nobody's talking about how that quest has been moving along at a turtle's pace this year!

DEREK JETER
Batting: .260
On-Base: .324
Slugging: .324

Those numbers are acceptable if you're a great defensive shortstop and your batting at the bottom of the order. Jeter's defense comes and goes depending on the metric you're using (with more bad news than good news generally), and he's at the top of the order because he's Derek Jeter!

Not this year he isn't...
2009:  .334 batting, .406 on base, .465 slugging
2010: .270 batting, .340 on base, .370 slugging
2011: .260 batting, .324 on base, .324 slugging

His power's gone. He used to be more regularly in the .370 to .390 range in on base percentage. Last year's decline was an early sign of aging. This year's logical extension is just an older player getting older. He shouldn't be at the top of the order until he shows signs of reversing this trend. Maybe the injury will do him some good. It could easily do the TEAM some good because Jeter has been an offensive anvil so far.

  • Nick Swisher is basically having the same year as Jeter to this point, which makes it TWO guys who are pulling everyone down. The colorful right fielder is well below career norms, and his recent production as a Yankee. His batting average is down 67 points from last year (through Monday's action). His on-base percentage is .344, which would be his second lowest mark of the last six years if that holds up for the full season. His slugging percentage has dropped from .511 to an inexplicable .343. That should be impossible for a hitter well positioned to take advantage of New York's right field porch.
  • Jorge Posada is getting a lot of at bats at DH, which is INSANE because he's hitting just .226 with an on-base percentage of .321 and a slugging percentage of .375. There are up-and-coming sluggers all over the MINOR leagues who could do better than that in their sleep. If a position in your batting order is devoted exclusively to hitting, you should have a HITTER in there instead of some broken down veteran who's going to turn 40 in August. Posada was a huge contributor to some of the best recent Yankees teams. It's his time to go to the announce booth.

Even with those three albatrosses pulling down production, the Yankees are still scoring a lot of runs this year. And, the key reason is the EXPLOSION of Curtis Granderson.

Granderson had 20 home runs through Monday Night's action, which is on pace for a huge increase from his past power. Here are his full season numbers from the past few years:

CURTIS GRANDERSON'S HOMERS
2007: 23
2008: 22
2009: 30
2010: 24

Hey, Granderson always had some pop. And, more pop than many realized because he was always presented as a "speedy" player rather than an all-around athlete. A versatile outfielder who goes deep that much is going to help you. Granderson's currently on pace for about 48 home runs if he reaches 600 at bats (probable without an injury). He may pass his full season totals from 2007, 2008, and 2010 by the end of June. HUGE!

Compare his production numbers this year to those you've already read.

CURTIS GRANDERSON 2011
Batting: .278
On-Base: .351
Slugging: .605

Think about this for a second. He leads the team in homers AND triples. That's power and speed. He's also the centerfielder. We won't go overboard and make any comparisons to Willie Mays. Mays was a superstar and Granderson's a guy having a good year. But, stylistically, he's in the same mold...and that's a rare mold.

Compared to Boston, the Yankees are a disappointment. Boston is 8-1 this year against the Yankees, and look to have a lineup that can just abuse New York pitching whenever they want. The Yankees just got swept TWICE...AT HOME...by Boston in recent weeks. But, outside of the Red Sox, the Yankees are 35-20 for the season (entering the Texas series). They're playing like a 100-win team against everyone else in other words. And, they're doing that with multiple anvils on their back because of sustained slumps (or new levels of production for aging players) from Jeter, Posada, and Swisher. Granderson deserves the bulk of the credit for erasing those negatives.

The Yankees have a very busy schedule on tap where they're going to be the focus of the nation. It's not quite true that every game is a playoff game when you're the Yankees. But, it's more true for them than everyone else. And, it's most true for them in Interleague Play because all National League teams want to beat the most famous franchise in all of sports. Here's what's coming up:

Tonight and Thursday: vs. Texas in replay of AL Championship series
Friday-Sunday: at the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field for a TV showcase
Monday-Wednesday: at Cincinnati in another "glory day" matchup
June 24-26: vs. Colorado
June 28-30: vs. Milwaukee, a VERY hot team from the NL
July 1-3: at New York Mets in the Big Apple rivalry

You'll be watching a lot of those games on TV. We'll resist the urge here in the NOTEBOOK to overdose on the Yankees just because they're always on the tube. Be sure you're monitoring the team on a daily basis. Should the team finally address some of their issues with aging players, they can get even BETTER. That's a scary thought for everyone else when they're playing 100-win ball against everyone but Boston.

What about Texas? They're also playing tonight!

We've talked a few times about the Rangers in recent weeks. They look to have lost their focus a bit after a stellar road trip to Tampa Bay and Cleveland. You go 5-2 away from home against division contenders, and you're doing something. But, a quick trip home saw them lose two of three to surging Detroit. Then, this past weekend was a disaster when they lost three of four to also-surging Minnesota. The Rangers were almost no-hit on Sunday by Liriano. Take you're eye off the ball for one second, and you've suddenly put a 2-5 week on the board that just erased your great road trip.

Note that Texas visits Atlanta this weekend, followed by home series against Houston and the NY Mets, and a return bout on the road against the state-rival Astros. The rest of the AL West has to be mad that Texas gets to face Houston so much!

JIM HURLEY is really looking forward to this week's action, and the full Interleague slate that will take us through early July. Historically this has been a very profitable time for us because oddsmakers are usually a couple of years behind IL developments. We killed them with American League heavy action during the AL's peak. We balanced things out more after some top AL pitchers changed leagues. We know exactly what to do this month based on our reads of the rosters and what we saw in the initial IL appetizer a few weeks ago.

You know you're going to be watching a lot of games on TV coming up. WATCH AND WIN WITH JIM HURLEY!

  • Score tonight
  • Score some more in TWO Thursday sessions because of the busy afternoon slate
  • Score BIG Saturday with big IL series like NY Yankees/Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee/Boston, Texas/Atlanta, San Francisco/Oakland, and Florida/Tampa Bay

Basketball was fun, but it's in the rearview mirror. 2011 football is going to be great, but it's still several exits ahead on this profitable trip through the calendar. Now is the time to focus on baseball...NOW IS THE TIME TO SIGN UP WITH JIM HURLEY!

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