By now we’re all familiar with Curtis Granderson. We’ve heard the stories about how he’s a great teammate, we’ve seen him be extremely durable, we’ve witnessed terrible streakiness and last year’s dismal numbers with runners in scoring position. But now we’ve got a little bit of an unknown thrown into the equation. It looks like the Mets will be counting on Granderson to play CF the majority of the time, at least at the beginning of the year.
Granderson played CF in 36 games last year, including 32 starts, and amassed 251 inning at the position. That’s not a particularly big sample. But in what little we saw, he was perfectly acceptable. And few will forget his catch in the Wild Card game, where Statcast had him covering 102 feet(!) before catching the ball on the run and crashing into the wall. Overall, he had a +1 DRS and a 0.3 UZR and successfully handled 53 of the 54 plays that Inside Edge Fielding graded as “Routine” or “Likely,” those that are caught at least 60 percent of the time.
Also, in our tiny sample, when he played center last year is when Granderson did his best hitting of the season, as he posted a .273/.393/.609 line in 135 PA. It’s very likely that we cannot conclude much of anything, either defensively or offensively, from Granderson’s play in center in 2016. What little we can say is that we did not witness anything that would make us horrified of seeing him play more of the position in 2017. Now, it may very well turn out that 90 or more games gives us a completely different picture than 34. But the picture at 34 games was just fine.
So, here are our individual forecasts for Granderson in 2017:
We see quite a range of outcomes for Granderson here. Offensively we have Rob thinking he’ll produce a .720 OPS while Charlie predicts an .890 mark. Charlie’s a bit of an outlier, as the next highest OPS is the .822 mark forecasted by Dalton. But four of our 11 panel members see an OPS of .800 or greater while two see him below a .750 OPS. Defensively it’s a similar tale. Charlie again is the most bullish, seeing him there for 145 games. Meanwhile, Chris sees only 25. But Chris is the only one to see fewer than 60 games.
Here’s our group forecast for Granderson in 2017:
After he posted a .799 OPS in 2016, we see Granderson putting up a .786 mark this year. And we see a decrease in playing time, too, although that’s at least in part due to our expectation for him not to start as a leadoff hitter 81 times this season. How optimistic are we? Let’s check to see what the computer models project:
Looks like we’re slightly optimistic but certainly in the right ballpark. The main issue seems to be RBIs but this is a case where the humans know something that the computer models don’t in that it’s likely that Granderson will bat lower in the order, particularly whenever Jose Reyes starts.
The ZiPS comp for Granderson is Steve Finley. Once again, we have a guy who falls off in the equivalent age for the coming season. At 35, Finley put up a 121 OPS+ but at age 36, what Granderson will be in 2017, Finley dropped to a 91 OPS+. But hey, the raw OPS total for Finley was .767, which isn’t too far from our projection for Granderson. Of course, Finley did his in the middle of the Silly Ball era, accounting for the low OPS+.
Please look for our next entry in the projection series on Tuesday.