Curtis Granderson

From BR Bullpen

Curtis Granderson-3999.jpg

Curtis Granderson

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Curtis granderson cropped.jpg

Curtis Granderson was the center fielder for the New York Yankees for four years 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.

On September 17, 2016, Granderson pulled off a very rare feat when he homered twice in extra innings in a 3-2 Mets win over the Minnesota Twins. He was only the 8th player to do so, and what made the feat even more remarkable was that the homers came in consecutive innings, the 11th and 12th. No one had ever pulled off that particular combination, and only two other batters had ever homered in consecutive extra innings, Art Shamsky with the 1966 Cincinnati Reds and John Mayberry with the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies, with the homers in both of these cases coming in the 10th and 11th innings. His first homer off Brandon Kintzler tied the game at 2-all in the 11th, then his second, coming off Ryan O'Rourke, was a walk-off shot with two outs the next inning. That season, he set a new record, alongside Jedd Gyorko of the St. Louis Cardinals for fewest RBIs in a season of 30 or more home runs; both Curtis and Gyorko had 59 RBIs, while the previous low was 64. After the season, he was named the recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award for his well-documented involvement in community projects where ever he has played during his career. A couple of weeks later, he was named the "Marvin Miller Man of the Year" by the MLBPA, an award that also underlines positive community involvement by a member of the Players Association.

He hit his 300th career homer on June 14, 2017; it came off Carl Edwards of the Chicago Cubs to lead off the 8th inning, breaking a 4-4 tie and sending the Mets on their way to a 9-4 win, as they eventually scored five runs in that inning. He had started the year very slowly, hitting only .128 in April, but hit a lot better after that, especially in June when he hit .316 with 8 homers and 15 RBIs in 26 games. On August 18th, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who held the best record in the majors at the time, in return for future considerations. He was hitting .228 with 19 homers and 52 RBIs in 111 games and had connected for a grand slam off Bryan Mitchell of the Yankees in his final at-bat as a Met on August 17th. He got off to a hot start with his new team, with a home run off Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers in his second game on August 20th, and another grand slam, off Gerrit Cole of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the next day. He had immediately been inserted as a starter by the Dodgers because OF Cody Bellinger, the team's hottest hitter, had turned his ankle on the day he had been acquired and had to sit out a few games as a result. He played 36 games for the Dodgers, hitting just .161, but with 7 homers and 12 RBIs. That resulted in a seasonal total of .221 in 147 games, with 26 homers and 64 RBIs. He played in the first two rounds of the postseason with the Dodgers, going a combined 1 for 15, then was left off the World Series roster in favor of IF Charlie Culberson.

It was widely thought that Granderson would retire after the 2017 season, but instead he signed a one-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays on January 15, 2018, worth $5 million, pending a physical exam. It was well known that the Jays were looking to add an outfielder via the free agent market, but Curtis's name was not among those that were being mentioned as possibilities, so his signing came as a surprise. The deal was made official on January 23rd. With the Blue Jays, he had as a teammate in spring training South African infielder Gift Ngoepe. He had first met Gift back in 2007, on a goodwill trip to South Africa arranged by Major League Baseball, when the youngster was still a teenager and playing in the majors seemed an impossible dream. Like the team he got off to a good start in April, hitting .306 in 24 games, with 13 RBIs. But he then slumped badly in May, hitting just .167 as the Jays sank like a rock in the standings. He could easily have been released at that point, but the Jays had a rash of injuries, and he was one of the few left-handed bats still left on the team. On June 10th, he had a career-high 6 RBIs in a 13-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles that completed a four-game sweep. He had a two-run double and a three-run homer in the game. He hit .245 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs for Toronto, good for an OPS+ of 113 due to his excellent on-base skills. On August 31st, he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in return for minor leaguer Demi Orimoloye. He continued to contribute over the final month in Milwaukee, with the team in the middle of a pennant race, as his average of .220 belied an excellent OPS+ of 128. He made the postseason roster but was just 1 for 7, his hit being an RBI double in the NLCS which the Brewers lost to his former team, the Dodgers. Still wanting to play baseball, he signed a minor league contract with the Miami Marlins in February 2019. This turned out to be his final season: in 138 games, he hit .183 with 12 homers and 34 RBIs, then announced his retirement on January 31, 2020.

Following the 2018 season, he became the first player to be awarded the "Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award" three different times, following his wins in 2009 and 2016. It is a tribute to how much he is appreciated by his peers and explains that he has been able to find employment with good teams year after year at an age when most players, even some that like him are still productive, have had to retire.

The son of two school teachers, he has been a tireless ambassador for the game and for diversity, both in the U.S, and internationally. In 2020, he became the first president of the Players Alliance. Many observers consider that he will play an important role in shaping the future of baseball, and see him as a possible future Commissioner.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 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: 10 (2007-2012 & 2014-2017)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 4 (2009, 2011, 2012 & 2016)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2011 & 2012)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (2011 & 2012)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 4 (2007, 2008, 2011 & 2012)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Gregor Chisholm: "For Grandy, trip to Africa helped produce a Gift: Outfielder met Ngoepe at skills clinic in South Africa in 2007",, February 25, 2018. [1]
  • Anthony DiComo: "Granderson named Marvin Miller Man of Year: Mets outfielder honored for philanthropic work in community",, November 9, 2016. [2]
  • Paul Hagen: "Parents paved path for Granderson's Clemente Award: Mets outfielder honored for charitable, community work",, October 28, 2016. [3]
  • Brian Manzullo: "Curtis Granderson, former Detroit Tigers center fielder, retires from baseball", Detroit Free Press, January 31, 2020. [4]
  • Jon Paul Morosi: "Granderson might still be MLB's top teammate: Veteran outfielder brings much to the Blue Jays, on and off the field",, March 19, 2018. [5]

Related Sites[edit]