Earlier in the year I wrote an article detailing Curtis Granderson’s new swing which has led to an increased home run rate. He’s already hit 26 home runs this year, tied for third with fellow Yankee Marx Teixeira and trailing Lance Berkman of the St. Louis Cardinals (27 home runs) and Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays (31 home runs). What Granderson’s new swing has also allowed him to do is to hit lefties better, which has greatly contributed to his success. I mentioned how Granderson’s new swing eliminated extra motion and shortened his stride. For moar details on his swing check out this article by Mike Axisa on Yankees blog River Ave Blues, part of the YES Network. Anyways, this approach has enabled him to turn on the ball better leading to home runs. This has especially helped against lefties. Up until his swing change last August, Granderson was a .209/.266/.334 hitter against lefties. After his swing change he hit .286/.375/.500 versus southpaws the rest of 2010, albeit in only 56 at-bats. I read an article by Chris Cwik of fangraphs.com in which he noted the difference. When he wrote the article on May 17th, he also detailed Granderson’s averages against lefties up until that point. At the time he had a line of .275/.326/.850. Very impressive.
However, like the small sample size in 2010, this was obtained in only 40 at-bats. So I decided to wait to write an article about Granderson’s seemingly new success against lefties. However, after Granderson hit a home run against Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price this past Wednesday, I was prompted to write this article. In fact, it was his second home run off Price this year. Did you know Price has only given up 4 home runs against lefties in his career and Granderson claims fame to half of those? His home run count against lefties this year now stands at 10, half of his career total of 20. Wow. Also, while his numbers have regressed, they are still very respectable. A line of .263/.336/.596 against lefties is nothing to scoff at. It’s almost identical to his line against righties: .272/.380/.551. I stated in my previous article that Granderson would reach 40 home runs. He still has a great chance to do that (currently sitting at 26 home runs). He also has 19 steals, which leads to the possibility of a 30-30 season.
All in all, Granderson has been in my opinion, the most valuable Yankee and arguably the most valuable player in the AL. There’s still a lot of baseball to be played so it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of Granderson’s magical season plays out. Hopefully, the Yankees can also muster up some magic and catch the Boston Red Sox. Although unlikely with all the pitching problems and injury/old guy issues, a fan can hope right? Oh one moar thing! Check out the E:60 piece on Granderson. Really touching story. And the dude is freakin’ ripped.
EDIT: Some science. Why is it harder for lefty hitters to hit lefty pitchers (especially their breaking balls)? The answer is physics. When a right handed pitcher throws a curveball, it breaks to the left, from his own point of view, which causes it to cross the plate with its lateral movement away from a right-handed batter but towards a left-handed batter (and vice-versa for a left-handed pitcher). Therefore, since a breaking ball thrown by a left handed pitcher breaks down and away from a left handed batter, it is harder to hit. Also, the batter has a tougher time “seeing the ball.” What I mean by this is when the ball is being released from the pitcher on the same side of the plate as the batter is standing, from the batter’s perspective, the ball initially is in line with him, and almost appears to be heading straight for him. This makes determining the path of the ball a little trickier, as it may take another fraction of a second to pick up the ball’s path to the plate.
Delving deeper, it takes fractions of a second to send a message to your brain. If you tell your body to swing it still takes times (albeit a very short amount of time) to actually swing. If you have a very complicated swing it takes moar time to follow through. By removing extra motion and shortening your swing, you think less in order to replicate your swing motion. That extra time saved can be the difference between a hit or a a miss. Since it’s already harder to “see” the ball as a lefty going up against a lefty, every fraction of a second counts.
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