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The Significance of a Healthy Curtis Granderson to the Mets

The Grandy man can?
Photo via NY Daily News
The Grandy man can? Photo via NY Daily News

The Grandy man can?
Photo via NY Daily News

The Mets officially introduced Curtis Granderson on Tuesday. Granderson will occupy one of the Mets three outfield positions. Exactly which one is unknown and relatively unimportant. How this free agent acquisition is graded is a question for years down the road. What is known is that the Mets are getting a “pro’s pro” who has been an above average major league player over 10 seasons. There are many ways to break this deal down, but I choose to look at it one way. The Mets added a legitimate MLB player to their outfield. This simple fact — and its importance — cannot be overstated. And, yes, that’s a somewhat sad commentary on the recent state of affairs for these New York Mets, but it is nonetheless true and significant.

To understand significance, you must examine recent history

Yes, the Mets have been shi**y the past couple of seasons. So, intuitively, adding an above average player should make your team better. However, one must really understand the depths to which the Mets outfield situation has sunk over the past two seasons. I can attest to the many times in recent memory where I’ve commiserated with Mets fans about the “quadruple-A” players we were putting out on that field. Guys who were glorified role players. Pinch hitters impersonating regulars. Minor league prospects trying to prove they were anything more than that…and lifetime AAAers who were under no illusions otherwise. Infielders playing outfield. But it’s still a bit startling when you look at it singularly captured. Here are the folks who’ve trotted out to an outfield spot over the last two seasons for the New York Mets. It is (and was) a sight to behold.

Rick Ankiel
Mike Baxter
Mystery Man (more on this later)
Andrew Brown
Marlon Byrd
Colin Cowgill
Matt Den Dekker
Lucas Duda
Scott Hairston
Juan Lagares
Fred Lewis
Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Vinny Rottino
Andres Torres
Jordanny Valdespin
Eric Young

Feel free to skim through that one again. We’re pretty sure we’re not missing anyone. Of that list, one could argue that not a single player on the list could be described as even a mediocre everyday major league outfielder” — ESPECIALLY at the points in their career when several of those transient folks made their way through Flushing. Perhaps only Marlon Byrd, he of the productive three months in blue and orange following a 50-game PED suspension, is the only one who can legitimately lay claim to any sort of notable production. It’s downright frightening to look at holistically.

Bay on the Brain
So, it could be argued that Mets fans should be exulting, although many are choosing to hang their heads in anticipation of disappointment. This is fair. There is precedent. Much of that could stem from more recent letdowns…which takes us to “mystery man” from above. A trip through Baseball Reference’s stat page tells you all the numbers you need to know about Curtis Granderson. As a Mets fan though, one thing stood out and speaks so much to the psyche of fans and what lies beneath the signing. There, under the “similarity scores” a Bill James-inspired measure that uses analytics to make comparisons of players based on similar time played and statistics. Who is number one on that list for finding Curtis Granderson parallels?

Oh no, not... Via Baseball Reference

Oh no, not…
Via Baseball Reference

Yup, there he is. Jason Bay. The man who came to New York with the expectations that the Grandy Man would have had except for…well…you know, Jason Bay. Bay came at a similar age, with similar stats (maybe better) and was, of course, one of the more spectacular bust deals in Mets history. And that is saying A LOT.

Health and Happiness

So, how will this time work out? Methinks better, but health is the key. Granderson had never played less than 140 games in his previous seven seasons before last year in the Bronx. In 2013, he managed only 62 games and posted a career low batting average over those 200+ plate appearances. Granderson will prove a more-than-worthy pick up, IF he can stay on the field and put up historical (or even slightly worse numbers). His averages (admittedly skewed from some monster power years in 2011 and 2014 are .261, 30 homers, 83 RBI and 17 steals. If healthy, he also plays a solid outfield. Even if he dips from this baseline, he will be a huge upgrade.

We’re excited about it. The Mets need to start filling gaps with Major League ballplayers. Grandy is a good one. Let’s hope he plays like one. Now, back to getting some more of those holes addressed…

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