Comparing Curtis Granderson

After his 41st home run on Monday afternoon in a 6-4 win over Minnesota, Yankees slugger Curtis Granderson has seemingly furthered his case for the American League MVP award. However, sabermetricians and the stats of past prolific Yankees home run hitters over the 21st century would show that Granderson is not worthy of the award.

Granderson, with his 7.0 WAR, doesn’t even have the best WAR on his own team—CC Sabathia bests him with a 7.1—and Granderson is well behind Jacoby Ellsbury‘s 8.5 and Jose Bautista‘s 8.2. Even Dustin Pedroia edges Granderson with his 7.3, and 24-game winner Justin Verlander matches his former Detroit teammate with his 7.0 WAR.

AL MVP candidates	        PA        Slash Line    HR	RBI	 R	WAR	SB	   
Curtis Granderson, OF, NYY	659	.268/.371/.568	41	115	133	7.0	24	   
Jose Bautista, 3B/OF, TOR	612	.304/.448/.623	42	100	102	8.2	 8	   
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, BOS	681	.319/.376/.539	27	 96	111	8.5	37	   
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS	        684	.297/.380/.463	20	 83	 96	7.3     26	 

Granderson’s team has fared better than the other candidates’, which still may be a factor in the minds of some of the voters, but many of his numbers don’t stack up compared with other MVP candidates and previous Yankees home run hitters.

	                PA        Slash Line    HR      RBI      R      WAR     SB	 Awards
C. Granderson, 2011	659	.268/.371/.568	41	115	133	7.0	24	??
Alex Rodriguez, 2007	708	.314/.422/.645	54	156	143	9.8	24	MVP (1), SS
Alex Rodriguez, 2005	715	.321/.421/.610	48	130	124	9.1	21	MVP (1), SS
Jason Giambi, 2003	690	.250/.412/.527	41	107	 97	5.0	 2	MVP (13)
Jason Giambi, 2002	689	.314/.435/.598	41	122	120	7.0	 2	MVP (5), SS

When Rodriguez won the MVP in 2007 and 2005, his numbers were better than Granderson’s across the board except Granderson’s runs, which lead the AL. That total is the best stat he has going for him besides the home runs. Giambi did not play the field in 43 percent of his games in 2002 and 2003, which impacted his WAR numbers and MVP chances.

The average WAR of the last five AL MVPs is 7.4, and that number is weighed down by Justin Morneau‘s 4.0 WAR in 2006 (Derek Jeter and David Ortiz each had a 6.3 and finished second and third, respectively). Pedroia’s 6.8 in 2008 was oddly the best WAR among the top five vote-getters. But I digress…

	                  PA	  Slash Line 	HR	RBI	 R	WAR	SB	   
Josh Hamilton, 2010	  571	.359/.411/.633	32	100	 95	8.7	 8	   
Joe Mauer, 2009	          606	.365/.444/.587	28	 96	 94	7.9	 4	   
Dustin Pedroia, 2008	  726	.326/.376/.493	17	 83	118	6.8	20	   
Alex Rodriguez, 2007	  708	.314/.422/.645	54	156	143	9.8	24	   
Justin Morneau, 2006	  661	.321/.375/.559	34	130	 97	4.0	 3	 

You could make a decent case that Granderson should win the MVP this season (and some people certainly could speculate that performance-enhancing drugs has to do with past inflated WAR numbers), but he would certainly be a below-average MVP candidate from a historical and, in my view, a current perspective.

Print This Post

Leave a Reply

5 Comments on "Comparing Curtis Granderson"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

I don’t know that Granderson should be the MVP but I do think that his WAR undervalues how good he’s b een this year.  Granderson’s UZR is -6 but most observers would say he’s a slightly above average CFer.  Statistically, he’s likely the victim of Gardner stealing defensive opportunities from him.  I’m not sure that a more accurate UZR would put him above Bautista or Ellsbury in WAR but I think it would go a long way to narrow the gap. He’s definitely top 3 to me and I don’t think he’s an unreasonable choice.


If you use bWAR instead of fWAR (which is a probably more in line with what the voters like, at least in the pitching component), it’s Bautista and Verlander miles ahead of everyone else.

Nato Coles
Nato Coles

Let me add to what Jeff said…

Any system that rates CC Sabathia ahead of – or even tied with – Justin Verlander for WAR is not a system I would use to evaluate ballplayers.

Brad Johnson
Brad Johnson


This isn’t going to be terribly helpful, but some Yankees writer recently went over Granderson’s worst defensive plays this season. While his true talent might very well be in the slightly above average range, he empirically had a rough year in the field.


Granderson is going to find it hard to win with that batting average.


Granderson may not be deserving of MVP, but showing that his rate stats are lower then A-Rod half a decade ago isn’t saying a whole lot. Different offensive environment, and you’re comparing to one of the best players of all time in his prime.