Saturday, June 14, 2008

What's wrong with Curtis Granderson?

Last week, I took a look at Miguel Cabrera's struggles at the plate this season. I found that his approach, his strike out and walk rates and his contact rate are similar to what they had been in the past. The big difference between this year and past years was that he not hitting ball as hard as he had in other years.

Another Tiger who is having a disappointing season at the plate is Curtis Granderson. While he is still fielding brilliantly (3rd in zone rating and 2nd in revised zone rating), his offensive stats are way down from last year. His .240 batting average, .297 OBP and .728 OPS are the lowest of his career so far. Part of that is the depressed offense in the American league this year as his 95 OPS+ is close to his 98 OPS+ of 2006. But it was 136 last year!

It's possible that 2007 was a career year and that 2006 was more representative of what his typical year will be. Of course, none of us (including myself) like that answer. Another possibility is that the time off because of the hand injury messed up his swing or timing. To investigate his difficulties further, I'll again (as I did with Cabrera) use data from Baseball Reference and Fan Graphs.


Table 1: Curtis Granderson's standard stats

Year

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

2005

174

.272

.314

.494

.802

113

2006

679

.260

.335

.438

.773

98

2007

676

.302

.361

.552

.913

136

2008

182

.240

.297

.431

.728

95



Table 2 shows that his walk rate is down from 2006 but about the same as 2007. His strikeout rate (18.6%) is the best of his career by a significant margin. The next three columns indicate that he might be taking a somewhat different approach this year. His pitches per plate appearance have gone from 3.98 in in 2007 to 4.26 so far this year. He is also swinging at fewer balls outside the zone (OSWING%) and inside the zone (ZSWING%) this year than last. This all indicates that he may be less aggressive at the plate this year compared to 2007. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. The most positive result here is that his contact rate is actually slightly better this year (78.6%) than last (77.8%).


Table 2: Curtis Granderson's plate discipline stats


Year

BB%

K%

P/PA

OSWING%

ZSWING%

Contact%

2005

5.8

26.5

4.07

21.4

59.3

77.4

2006

10.0

29.2

4.08

20.4

63.2

70.8

2007

7.8

23.0

3.98

23.4

62.4

77.8

2008

7.7

18.6

4.26

19.6

60.9

78.6



A look at his batted ball data in Table 3 shows that his BABIP (.250) is way way down from any other year (never lower than .324 since 2005). This is a very good sign as it indicates that he is probably hitting into some bad luck and that fewer balls are dropping in this season. The batted ball data is not all good though as, like Cabrera, Granderson is not hitting as many line drives this year as in past few years. I'm pretty sure, however, that this does not account for all of the extreme drop in BABIP.


Table 3: Curtis Granderson's batted ball data


Year

BABIP

GB%

LD%

FB%

HR/FB

2005

.324

45.4

18.5

36.1

11.7

2006

.337

38.9

22.2

38.9

10.9

2007

.362

34.2

21.0

44.8

12.5

2008

.250

38.7

14.6

46.7

12.0



Finally, his hit charts on MLB.COM for 2007 and 2008 are pretty similar. He is still very much a pull hitter.

So, my conclusion is that there are three things different between 2007 and 2008 for Granderson:

(1) He is a little less aggressive this year. I'm not sure if that's something that needs to change.

(2) He has been unlucky this year

(3) He is hitting fewer line drives so far.

(2) tells me that his BABIP and consequently (his average and slugging) is likely to go up as the year goes along. I also see no reason why his line drive rate should stay down. So, look for Granderson's second half to be better than his first half.

2 comments:

  1. I agree on the aggressive point. He seems to be late on pitches quite a bit with a number of pop-ups to the left side. I don't like putting too much into any one thing, but look at his game logs and see what happens before and after that Tim Wakefield game. Did the knuckler mess him up that much or is it a matter of coincidence?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Justin (jj04)June 17, 2008

    I also agree on the aggressive point. I think he will eventually revert to some point in between 2006 and 2007, especially with his BABIP down so much. I think if we want him to produce like he did last year, he'll have to be more aggressive, but that could mean more K's. I guess we'll see.

    ReplyDelete

Sabermetrics Book

Sabermetrics Book
One of Baseball America's top ten books of 2010

Blog Archive

Subscribe

501 Baseball Books

501 Baseball Books
Recommended by Tiger Tales

Total Pageviews