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Curtis Granderson

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Curtis Granderson

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[edit] Biographical Information

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Curtis Granderson is the current center fielder of the New York Yankees after spending the first six seasons of his career with the Detroit Tigers. He made headlines for blending speed and power at the top of Detroit's batting order. He knocked 19 home runs while serving as the leadoff hitter for the Tigers in 2006, when they won the American League pennant. He is strikeout prone - whiffing 174 times in 2006, but also draws a fair amount of walks. For the Yankees, he hit lower in the batting order at first, but then developed additional power and was moved to the top of the line-up in 2011.

The Tigers drafted Granderson in the third round of the 2002 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Jerome Cochran and spent his first professional season playing for the Oneonta Tigers. His average was .344 in 212 at bats. He hit .286 with 10 home runs and 11 stolen bases with the Lakeland Tigers in 2003, and ripped 21 home runs for Erie in 2004. The Tigers gave Granderson a cup of coffee in 2004; he racked up six hits in 25 at bats. He did well with triple-A Toledo in 2005, hitting .290 with 15 home runs, and hit eight home runs in 162 at bats with the Tigers.

Granderson won a Spring Training position battle over Nook Logan in 2006, and opened the season as Detroit's starting center fielder. He posted a .260 average, drove in 68 runs, and piled up 59 extra base hits.

In the final game before the 2007 all-star break, Granderson made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Wily Mo Pena of a home run. Baseball Tonight declared it to be the best web gem of the first half of the season. On September 9th, 2007, Granderson became only the 3rd player in Major League history to have at least 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases, 20 triples and 20 doubles in one season. The others were Frank Schulte in 1911 for the Chicago Cubs and Willie Mays, who accomplished the feat while playing for the New York Giants in 1957.Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies joined the club a few days later.

Curtis played for Team USA at the 2009 World Baseball Classic. After the 2009 season, he was traded to the New York Yankees as part of a three-team deal that also involved the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Tigers received Austin Jackson and Phil Coke from the Yankees and Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth from the Diamondbacks and Arizona got Ian Kennedy from the Yankees and Edwin Jackson from the Tigers. Granderson hit a home run off Josh Beckett of the Boston Red Sox in his first at-bat as a Yankee on April 4, 2010. He was slowed by a few injuries in his first season in pinstripes, being limited to 136 games, but hit well, putting up a batting line of .247/.324/.468, very similar to that in his last season in Detroit. He hit with a lot of power over the second half of the season on his way to 24 homers, but this turned out to be a preliminary taste of greater things to come in 2011. He emerged that season as one of the top power hitters in all of baseball, and most remarkably, was no longer vulnerable to left-handed pitchers as he had been until that point of his career. He was in a three-way race for the American League home run crown with teammate Mark Teixeira and Toronto's Jose Bautista, and also led the league in both runs scored and RBI for most of the year. Manager Joe Girardi had no choice but to move him up in the batting order, where he settled in the second spot, behind Derek Jeter and ahead of Teixeira. On August 25th, he reached 100 RBI for the first time with an 8th-inning grand slam against Bruce Billings of the Oakland Athletics; it was his 36th home run of the season, and the Yankees' third grand slam of the game after Robinson Cano and Russell Martin had hit slams earlier, marking the first time a major league team had ever hit three grand slams in one game. The Yankees won the game handily, 22-9. He was named the American League Player of the Month for August after hitting .289 with 10 homers and 29 RBI. He finished the season with a batting line of .262/.364/.552, 41 homers and an AL-leading 119 RBI. He was the recipient of a Silver Slugger Award and finished in the MVP vote. He went 5 for 20 with 4 runs, a homer and 3 RBI in the ALDS, but the Yankees were upset by his old team, the Tigers, in 5 games.

In 2012, Granderson continued to show outstanding power, but his vulnerability to lefties returned. As a result, his batting average fell significantly, and he was sat down against southpaws towards the end of the year with the Yankees locked in a tight pennant race with the surprising Baltimore Orioles. On September 24th, he hit his 40th homer in a 6-3 win over the Minnesota Twins, becoming only the fifth player in team history to have back-to back 40-homer seasons; Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Jason Giambi were the others. He finished the year with 43 homers and 106 RBI, a .232 average and 102 runs scored. He was again an All-Star. He went 3 for 19 with a homer against the Orioles in the ALDS but was held hitless in 11 at-bats as the Yankees were swept by the Tigers in the ALCS.

His 2013 season started poorly. After manager Joe Girardi moved him from center field to left field before spring training games started, he was hit on the wrist by a pitch from J.A. Happ of the Blue Jays in the 1st inning of the Yankees' second Grapefruit League game on February 24th. The pitch broke a bone, setting him back ten weeks. He made his season's debut on May 14th and had a couple of three-hit games in the following week, including one on May 22nd when he hit his first homer of the year against the Baltimore Orioles. But just as it seemed as he had hit his stride, he suffered another injury, being hit by a pitch from Cesar Ramos of the Tampa Bay Rays in the 5th inning on May 24th. He stayed in the game and scored a run, but his hand began swelling and he was soon diagnosed with a broken bone in his hand, putting him right back on the disabled list for another month. He only returned to the line-up on August 2nd. He ended up playing only 61 games, hitting .229 with 7 homers and a measly 15 RBIs. In 2013 it was announced that Granderson would put up $5 million of the $7 million cost for a new stadium at his alma mater, the University of Illinois-Chicago. The stadium will be named after him.

In spite of his struggles with his health and his poor on-field performance in 2013, Granderson had no difficulty finding a team after he became a free agent, even if the Yankees were hesitant to commit to him over the long term. Instead, he moved across the Big Apple to join the New York Mets, signing with them on December 6th on a four-year deal worth a total of $60 million.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 3-time AL All-Star (2009, 2011 & 2012)
  • AL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2011)
  • AL Runs Scored Leader (2011)
  • 2-time AL Triples Leader (2007 & 2008)
  • AL RBI Leader (2011)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 7 (2007-2012 & 2014)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 3 (2009, 2011 & 2012)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2011 & 2012)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (2011 & 2012)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 4 (2007, 2008, 2011 & 2012)

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