There has been much talk thus far in Spring Training of the ongoing project to “fix” Curtis Granderson. It was apparently one of the main reasons the Mets hired his former Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long to reprise the role in Flushing. In fact, an article in the New York Post Thursday calls Long “the only hope of keeping Granderson from Jason Bay territory” (in fact, it was the headline). But there is a chance Granderson is not even broken, that this is just who he is at this point in his waning career.
Let’s look at the numbers. Curtis Granderson hit .227 with 20 home runs and 66 RBIs in 2014. The RBI number is deceptive because he batted clean-up for a good chunk of the season. Now, no one is saying this was a good year. But it should not have come as a surprise.
Granderson played in just 61 games in an injury-riddled 2013. He hit .229 with seven home runs and 15 RBIs. If we extrapolate that over a 162 season, we get 18 home runs and 40 RBIs, of course with the same .229 average. Those are not far off from his 2014 totals.
In 2012 he hit 43 home runs with 106 RBIs. Granderson was clearly helped by the short right field porch and the wind tunnel at Yankee Stadium to blast those homers (and the 41 he hit in 2011). But again, he only batted .232. After three seasons of that type of batting average, why do we think it will rise at age 34?
Curtis Granderson will never hit 40 home runs again, especially at Citi Field. In fact, his 20 was something of an accomplishment. Since the Mets moved into Fred Wilpon’s Field of Dreams in 2009, a Met has hit 20 or more home runs in a season just seven times. Maybe the new dimensions will yield more home runs, but stadium history and Granderson’s age says he will never reach his Yankees plateau again.
So if Granderson hits 25 home runs with 85 RBIs (provided he hits down in the lineup for the duration of the season) and probably around that .230 average in 2015, will that be considered a successful year? Probably. But it would not too far off from his 2014 numbers, which were considered disastrous.
All I’m saying is Kevin Long or not, that we should keep expectations for Curtis Granderson low. He is not suddenly going to revert to the 40 home run monster he was a few years ago, especially with a few more years on him. The days when players somehow got better as they got older (cough, cough PEDs) are thankfully long gone.