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Curtis Granderson starts taking fly balls in left field

Feb 21, 2013, 11:51 AM EDT

AP Granderson Gardner AP

As of two weeks ago the Yankees were undecided about whether they were better off sticking with Curtis Granderson in center field or shifting him to left field and moving Brett Gardner to center field.

No official decision has been made yet, but it sounds like the switch is in the works. Jack Curry of YES Network reports that “Granderson will start taking fly balls in left field today” and calls it a “precursor” to Granderson and Gardner swapping positions.

It’s also possible that the Yankees won’t like how Granderson looks in left field or change their mind about the switch in general, but for now at least the wheels are in motion to make Gardner the starting center fielder. Granderson has played exclusively center field in three seasons for the Yankees, but did play some left field for the Tigers.

  1. djpostl - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    Good. He’s God awful in CF (though there is no guarantee he won’t be worse in LF)

    • Kevin S. - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      That’s a pretty weak statement. Sure, there’s no guarantee of anything, but there’s tons of evidence that centerfielders who are fast but don’t perform well due to poor reads and route-running (as is the case with Granderson) do significantly better in left field where there’s less ground to cover and their speed can more easily cover their mistakes. There’s no reason to expect Granderson can’t be a league-average defensive left fielder.

      • paperlions - Feb 21, 2013 at 2:28 PM

        yes, but a “league-average defensive left fielder” is not a good defender….because most LFers are horrible and play there because they can’t play anywhere else.

      • Kevin S. - Feb 21, 2013 at 2:37 PM

        I took djpostl’s comment to mean that there was no guarantee he wouldn’t go from being a ~-15 CF to a ~-15 LF, but if we’re talking defense+positional value, I still think it’s likely that the move allows him to hold steady, if not improve his defensive value.

      • djpostl - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:36 PM

        Still don’t understand how it’s a “weak argument”. You hit the nail on the head with the reads part, that is Granderson’s kryptonite. he gets horrid reads, especially if anything is right at him.

        Maybe a shift to LF solves this somewhat and his recovery speed helps minimize it even more, but there is nothing weak about saying there are zero guarantees this move will work out.

        Especially since anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to baseball the last five or more years knows they toyed around with the idea of him in left before with the Yankees (and I am somewhat certain in Detroit too) and he was struggling so bad they scrapped the entire thing in short order.

  2. uspoika - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    thats a ridiculous statement and obviously havent watched a yankees game in three years

    • hammyofdoom - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:35 PM

      I really need to look up the stats, but from my eye Granderson isn’t exactly a great center-fielder (and being a Sox fan I’ve seen him play tons). He reminds me of Ellsbury when he first came up, tons of speed but his actual routes to balls are terrible. I’ve seen so many times where Granderson took a few steps in the wrong direction, but his speed and the ability to make diving catches allowed him to make up the difference. He’s one of those guys who you see make TONS of spectacular diving catches…because he didn’t break the right way in the first place. That’s just what i’ve seen, but I’ll look at the stats when I can

    • paperlions - Feb 21, 2013 at 2:31 PM

      I remember reading a comment from someone familiar with advanced defensive metrics saying the reason Granderson grades out so poorly with advanced metrics because he is horrible at going back on balls hit over his head…but that he does well in other regards….so his mistakes often turn outs into 2B or 3B but are difficult for casual observers to realize that they should have been caught.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 21, 2013 at 5:14 PM

        He plays a lot shallower (more shallow?) than someone at his age should. I’m not sure if it’s his choice or the Yankee coaches, but there are a ton of balls hit over his head that he would catch if he played deeper. He also makes more false steps than most I’ve seen, which doesn’t help in the just-out-of-reach plays.

      • anxovies - Feb 21, 2013 at 7:07 PM

        Not sure about fielding metrics but do they take into account runners who did not advance because his shallow play cut off ground balls up the middle? That and catching bloop hits is the real point of playing shallow and should be considered in any evaluation.

      • Kevin S. - Feb 21, 2013 at 9:25 PM

        Fangraphs’ ARM rating does attempt to measure how well an outfielder limits extra bases. Since joining the Yankees, Granderson is third among all qualified CF, but it doesn’t come close to making up for how much he gives back with his poor range.

    • jayscarpa - Feb 21, 2013 at 2:50 PM

      I’ve watched a lot of games. I used to think (2011) that maybe his metrics were lower because Gardner was in left and reached just about anything hit in the gaps. Last year he had Ibanez/Jones in left and his metrics still sucked. He often breaks late/breaks the wrong way. He plays very shallow with the belief he has the speed to catch up to a ball and he just doesn’t.

      As a NYY fan I love the idea. Gardner is superior and even if Granderson has some trouble adapting to LF he has to be better than the senior citizens of 2012. WIth Ichiro in right field the OF will save them some runs and they will need them.

  3. cackalackyank - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    This is good news. Having him work on NOT striking out over 150 times would better, but its a start.

  4. kaladin69 - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    should have done this a couple of years ago. Gardy is the better CF.

  5. Darkoestrada - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    But Curtis Granderson is a professional center fielder

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