Sunday, July 05, 2009

Granderson On Pace for 30/30

Curtis Granderson was named to the American League all-star team today along with Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson. Curtis is not having his best year this year (.256/.341/.467) and is really struggling against left-handed pitchers(.587 OPS versus LHP and .906 versus RHP). However, it's not a stretch to say he has been the second best center fielder in the league this year behind Torri Hunter.

Granderson is second behind Hunter with 50.8 Runs Created and third behind Hunter and Adam Jones with a .354 Weighted On Base Average. He is also 2.1 fielding runs better than league average according to Ultimate Zone Rating. Jones, on the other hand, has been one of the worst center fielders in the league. Franklin Gutierrez is the top center fielder defensively at 12 fielding runs above average but is middle of the pack offensively. So, one can make a strong case that Granderson should be on the team behind Hunter.

The all-star game is a public relations event though. Not many national fans are going to care about his runs created or his Ultimate Zone Rating so how do they promote him as a player? There's that quadruple twenty thing from 2007 but that's getting a little old and, with just two triples so far, he's not likely to come close this year. He is on a pace to hit 36 homers and steal 30 bases though so a 30/30 season is a possibility.

The thirty/thirty combo is less rare than the quadriple twenty. Since 2000, it's been done 16 times including Grady Sizemore of the Indians and Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins in 2008. However, it's never been done by a Detroit Tiger in the history of the franchise. The only one who came close was Kirk Gibson who had 29 homers and 33 stolen bases in 1986 and 27/30 in 1985.

Granderson has never hit more than 23 homers before but is hitting more fly balls than ever this year and hitting them far so 30 homers is not out of the question. The stolen bases may be more difficult because he doesn't always get the green light from Jim Leyland. On a team that is struggling to score runs, Leyland has been more willing to let Grandy run more this year and he has been successful - 15 steals in 19 attempts. As long as he keeps up that success rate, he should continue to get opportunities. Thus, I think 30/30 is well within his grasp.

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