Following last night’s majestic performance in which he pulled three home runs into the right field seats at Yankee Stadium, it should come as no surprise that Curtis Granderson is putting up eye-popping numbers to the pull side. He will enter play Friday with 11 hits — including six home runs — on 24 total balls in play hit to the right side of the diamond. That’s a .458 average, a 1.250 slugging percentage, and a tremendous 366 wRC+.
Granderson entered Thursday’s memorable contest with just a .208 average and a .780 OPS — all of which is fine for the early goings of the season, but nowhere near what Granderson can accomplish. In the first 12 games of the season Granderson was getting the ball to pull, where he hit .445 with an absurd 1.049 slugging percentage in 2011, but he wasn’t getting the results.
The 31-year-old entered the game at 6-for-19 to pull with three homers and a double. That’s a respectable .316 batting average and an .842 slugging percentage. But Granderson relies so much on right field for his production that he needs to be elite on pulled balls, not just good — he slugged just .323 to the left side last season and has career wRC+ marks of 80, 125 and 224 to left, center and right respectively.
Of course, a night like Thursday’s will fix those results right quick. All five of his hits came on balls pulled to right field, and four of the five where crushed, with the only cheapie coming on a dribbled infield single to first base in his final at-bat. And thanks to just how hard Granderson hit the ball Thursday night, he’s the owner of a fun statistical nugget. Just watch him hit his third home run of the night:
That’s all you need to see to know the ball was crushed; you can see the full action here. The ball disappears behind the score bug almost immediately, and a mere three seconds later it disappeared into the tenth row in right field. It was Granderson’s second line drive homer of the season, the first coming on April 13th off Ervin Santana — a near carbon copy.
To go with those two line drive shots, all four of Granderson’s fly balls to right field have gone for home runs, giving Granderson a 150% home run per fly ball rate to right field this season. As absurd as that statistic currently is, Granderson has always had great power when he’s managed to pull the ball in the air, sporting a career 35.2% HR/FB to right field, a number which climbed to 39.2% in last season’s 41-homer campaign.
Although it took until his second season for him to really break out, Curtis Granderson has really enjoyed playing at Yankee Stadium, which serves up one of the friendliest right fields in the game to one of the game’s best right field hitters regardless of park dimensions. Granderson will be in New York through the rest of 2012 likely through 2013 given the contract option possessed by the Yankees. We may not see another three home runs in three at-bats performance like we saw from Granderson last night, but fans with seats in right field in the Bronx should always be ready when Granderson steps up to the plate.