Opening Day has come and gone, but there is always time for another projection. While I didn’t get to finish this series, I had written the majority of the Curtis Granderson projection, so I just decided to finish is and publish. Enjoy.
The 33 year-old posted a career worst 97 wRC+ in an injury-plagued 2013 season with the Yankees. Playing only 61 games, Granderson battled a broken pinky and broken forearm, both caused by being hit by pitches. However, the Mets signed him because of his previous track record, which includes two consecutive seasons with 40 or more home runs in 2011 and 2012 as well as three seasons with at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases.
It’s unrealistic to expect Granderson to repeat his 40 home run totals of two and three years ago, but in a full season, he can certainly be a well above-average hitter, even in the pitcher-friendly Citi Field. In Yankee Stadium, as a lefty hitter, he thrived. However, he still managed to hit for power on the road as well, hitting 17 road home runs in 2012 and 20 in 2011. Although his home run per fly ball ratios were higher in Yankee Stadium, a sign the park was benefiting him, he still managed to hit for power on the road.
Looking back at Granderon’s career, it’s more realistic to expect the kind of numbers that Granderson put up with the Tigers, albeit with a lower batting average. In terms of overall value, that means somewhere around 3 wins above replacament. That’s not fantastic, but it’s certainly significantly above average and with one win above replacement going for somewhere between $6 million and $7 million, that would definitely make Granderson more than worth the money.
For this season, most of the projection systems have Granderson somewhere between two and three wins above replacement. For the most part, they have Granderson near or below zero in terms of runs on defense, which will probably change due to moving to left field. His defensive numbers in center field have fallen in recent years along with his speed, but moving to a less demanding left field with a defensive whiz in Juan Lagares next to him (or even Chris Young), his defensive numbers should be positive. The projections are all pessimistic about his playing time, which also skews the numbers, but even the ZiPS creator admitted that himself. With a positive WAR, more playing time will add more overall value to Granderson’s season.
Here is what the projections have for him:
Oddly enough, it’s ZiPS, the Debbie Downer of projection systems that has Granderson playing the best and having the highest fWAR, despite playing the least amount of time. Again, it’s important to recognize sample sizes in this. Adjusting to 650 plate appearances, Granderson hits 26, 21, and 27 home runs according to each projection. His fWAR would also come out to 1.6, 2.2, and 3.0 respectively. I’m willing to take the over in each of these categories. The projection systems see two injuries from Granderson, specifically hand injuries, and may adjust not only sample size, but also quality of the numbers, depending on the injury. That, and I’m just optimistic that the Mets lineup will get him more plate appearances than expected with an improved lineup.
Overall, Granderson is definitely not in his prime years, but with the position the Mets are putting him in, he is more likely to age rather gracefully. The 33 year-old still has power and, despite two freak injuries last season, is poised to have a quality 2014 season.