Curtis Granderson and the leadoff position

New York Mets Spring Training at their Minor League practice facility located within Tradition Field in FloridaCurtis Granderson, who we affectionately refer to as Granny on the Mets360 Game Chatters, first appeared in the leadoff spot for the Mets lineup on June 15th. It wasn’t until July 5th that he retained that spot, seemingly for the rest of the season. Since that date, Granderson is batting .197/.276/.299 with three home runs, six doubles, 17 runs, and two stolen bases from that spot.

For the 2014 season, Granderson is batting .212/.298/.353 in the leadoff role, with six home runs, eight doubles, 23 runs and three stolen bases in 46 games played. His career line at leadoff is .266/.340/.474. In a clubhouse that is preaching accountability, it seems as though Granderson’s struggles at batting leadoff this year have gone unnoticed.

It was a great experiment, seeing as how the only other option the Mets had for a leadoff man was Eric Young, Jr. For the year, he had a .236/.320/.322 at that spot in the lineup. But since it has been established that Young, Jr. is not an everyday kind of player, and Granderson is not a typical leadoff man, wouldn’t it make sense to try out some other people?

Juan Lagares only led off six games last year, so there wasn’t much history to go on. But in 2014 he led off 21 times earlier in the season to the tune of a .298/.347/.426 line with 11 runs scores. Some will say those numbers are inflated from a abnormally high BABIP from earlier in the season, and that may be true. And even despite that argument, this is an extremely small sample size, so we can’t say with any certainty that Lagares would make a good leadoff hitter. However, since Granderson is struggling at the moment to create consistency at that spot in the lineup, one would think Lagares should at least get a look at becoming the new leadoff man for the Mets.

Matt den Dekker has the speed to be a prototypical leadoff, but his problems with striking out have been well documented. In his entire major league career, he’s batted leadoff six times, so those numbers are barely worth mentioning. But there is something to be said for putting him in the leadoff spot in order to facilitate his increased pitch-taking ability. Top of the order batters need to see as many pitches as they can early on in order to help the rest of the lineup, so the theory goes. By forcing den Dekker to take on that role, it could promote the more patient approach at the plate that he’s worked so hard to develop. Then again, it could add increased pressure to a player already trying to prove himself. It’s a riskier proposition than either Lagares or Granderson, but it could be the one that pays off the most.

Outside of those two alternatives, the only other viable solution is possibly putting Daniel Murphy in leadoff. He is third in all of baseball with 152 hits, and his .339 OBP is nothing to sneeze at. In that scenario, Granderson who has a career .258/.355/.531 line batting second, could once again be in a position to drive runs in, rather than score them. Though in a perfect world he’d be doing both in that spot. Of course you are then taking the current best hitter on your team out of a more productive spot in the lineup, but you have to break some eggs to make an omlete.

Anyway you slice it, something has to be done to help the offense. In the second half of the season, the Mets are currently 14-17 with 91 runs scored versus 114 runs against. In their last 10 games, the team has 29 runs scored versus 36 runs against for a record of 4-6. For all the front office’s talk about the run differential and how the team’s record should be better than what it is, at the moment it looks exactly correct. The offense is sputtering, but the person having perhaps the most impact in starting that offense has been left to struggle while we finally decided it was time to start playing the young guys.

When things aren’t going well, it’s easy to point and say, “Why aren’t you fixing this?” We do a lot of that here. This is one of the more obvious things that needs fixing, but there is little sign that will take place. Granderson is not being paid $16 million a year to take walks and steal bases. Currently he’s not being used properly, and it’s taking it’s toll on the rest of the offense. Something should change, but as the season fades away down the stretch, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

13 comments for “Curtis Granderson and the leadoff position

  1. August 19, 2014 at 8:49 am

    You don’t pay Granderson 15 million to get on base. You pay him to drive in those runs. Once again another bonus point to TC for knowing how to put players in a position to succeed based on their track record.

  2. Joe Gomes
    August 19, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Or they can simply change the lineup.

    den Dekker

    To keep throwing the same lineup in the same order to watch it fail, is insanity.

    • August 19, 2014 at 9:38 am

      Or stupid.

      • Metstheory22
        August 19, 2014 at 11:02 am

        Insane and Stupid ( Bold capitals)

  3. Name
    August 19, 2014 at 9:53 am

    I don’t think he’s struggling because he’s in the leadoff spot.
    April: mostly at #4: .136/.252/.216
    May and 1st half of June: mostly at #4: .288/.402/.518
    2nd half of June and 1st half of July: mostly at #1: .267/.367/.505
    2nd half of July to current: all at #1: .175/.254/.237

    He’s had success in the leadoff and struggled in leadoff. He’s had success elsewhere, and also struggled elsewhere.

    He appears to be the ultimate streaky player this year. When he cold, he’s not just ice cold, he’s Pluto cold.

    • August 19, 2014 at 10:02 am

      It’s just a different mind set to leading off. I’m sure Granderson isn’t going to complain. But is that where he will be most productive? Are the Mets paying him 15 million to lead off? If anything have Murphy lead off and bat Granderson second.

      • Name
        August 19, 2014 at 11:14 am

        There’s no right answer. I’ve always like Granderson 2nd when he’s going well, and probably 6th or 7th when he’s not.
        And i’ve always hated, Hated him as a #4.

        They’re paying him $15 million to provide value. If leadoff is where he is going to provide the most value for the team, so be it.

  4. August 19, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Not a fan of our manager but I applaud him for trying Granny in the leadoff spot. Now it’s time for him to try something else.

    Still the same problem as before with no obvious candidate. I’d like to see MDD get the shot. He had great success in the role in LVG and since he’s returned from the minors, in his brief time here he has a .379 OBP and his K% has dropped to 17.2%

    I’m not convinced of the sustainability of either of those numbers but at this point, he seems like our best candidate.

    The obvious drawback is that he would either need to play everyday or TC would have to come up with a new plan when a lefty is on the mound and MDD is being platooned. MDD is no spring chicken, so it’s time to play him full-time and see if he can handle the role.

    • Wilponzi
      August 19, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      Why don’t you do an article on the manager using Jon Niese as a pinch hitter in the 5th inning of yesterdays game against the Cubs. I just couldn’t understand it? The broadcaster’s reasons made no sense. Even with 2 out a hitter getting to first, with Granderson following, there is a chance of a two run homer. Has Collins lost confidence in Granderson?

  5. August 19, 2014 at 11:24 am

    But in the long run leadoff is not going to be his most productive spot in the line up. I’d rather see him with runners on than hitting a home run with the bases empty.

  6. Wilponzi
    August 19, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Several of your Stat’s are misleading. Grandy’s OBP has dropped .30 point over the last 5 weeks his batting average has dropped .15 points. Grandy has been trying unsuccessfully going to left field in the past 3 weeks, his hasn’t hit a homerun in 4 weeks. I think he should be hitting 6th or 7th, maybe 2nd like he did on the Yankee’s. I strongly feel he is the wrong type player for this team and home ballpark. It’s my opinion that the Mets should try to move him in the off season. denDekkers strikeout have dropped since he returned from AAA. He is the only player I see as a leadoff option, unless they bring up Matt Reynolds from AAA.

  7. Boohoo
    August 19, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Just another in a long line of failed free agent signings. when will they ever learn?

  8. Metsense
    August 19, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    I never liked the idea of the team’s second best power hitter leading off. On a team lacking for runs it seemed like a waste of potential runs. The leadoff spot was not that problematic. Lagares vs LHP has a .370 OPS and Eric Young has a .335 OBP vs RHP. The problem was giving EY’s at bats to Chris Young in left field when it was apparent to almost everyone else that he didn’t deserve the playing time. During that time Granderson didn’t have to lead off.
    Now the Mets have decided on a MDD/Campbell platoon in left. Wally Backman said that Matt was a catalyst for Vegas. Why not let MDD lead off when he plays and Lagares lead off the other times? If you are giving MDD a shot why not try him at a spot in the order where he possibly fits.

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