Curtis Granderson could not have had a more unlucky 2013 season. After being hit by a pitch on his right forearm in Spring Training and missing the first 38 games of the season, Granderson only returned for 8 games as he was hit again on the left hand and did not return until August 2nd. 2013 was supposed to be Granderson’s contract year, and the Yankees were intent on using this year’s campaign as a way to gauge whether the 32 year old should be offered a long-term deal. But considering he only had 61 games of playing time, the Yankees will most likely offer him a qualifying offer so he can try to put himself in a better position on the open market at the end of 2014. If I were him, I would probably take the qualifying offer and try to secure a larger deal in 2014. But, this approach isn’t clear. Even if Granderson has a decent 2014 season, it’s hard to ignore that he is on the decline. Will an aging 33 year old with dwindling power and speed look that much better in a year? Let’s take a look at all aspects of his game, and make that determination for ourselves.

Batting

Not too long ago, (2011) Granderson was one of the most dangerous hitters in the game: he put up a line of .262/.364/.522 (146 wRC+) with 41 home runs. In 245 PA this year, the story was quite different: his line was .229/.317/.407 (97 wRC+) with 7 home runs. And although it may seem like this is a relatively small sample size, there are a few trends seen in the past couple of seasons that are troubling. The first issue is his power. Granderson was acquired to convert his pull fly balls into home runs in Yankee Stadium. When that power goes, a lot of his offensive production goes with it. In 2011, Granderson’s ISO was a monster .290, only to descend to .260 and .178 in subsequent years. And it’s not as if he’s getting unlucky with his fly balls–his .302 BABIP is almost identical to his career mark of .305. The biggest issue, derived from plate discipline data, is his bat speed. Granderson’s Z-Contact% was 81% and 80% in 2011 and 2012, respectively, as opposed to his career average of 85.9% and his high of 89.9% in 2010. This has resulted in a SwStr% of 11.8% and 13.6% in the past two years, differing greatly from his 2009 low mark of 8.0%. Even though he uses an extremely light bat (31 ounces), it’s obvious his bat speed is suffering as he is missing pitches in the zone more frequently. That’s not a good sign for a power hitter, but I can’t see that boding any better in a park other than Yankee Stadium where his HR/FB% would plummet.

Fielding

In the past few years, it’s been made blatantly obvious that Brett Gardner’s fielding abilities greatly eclipse Granderson’s, and Gardner has since taken over as the starting CF. And although Gardner wasn’t at quite the elite level this year as he has been in years past, the switch has been much more favorable to the Yankees who can now optimize these two players based on their abilities. The only two years Granderson has had a positive UZR was in 2010 and 2013. In general, his range isn’t very good to begin with–he has a career total -6.5 RngR so it’s strange he was favored in CF to begin with. With age, this range will only diminish; it’s safe to say that his position will remain in LF for the Yankees, if he does stay.

Speed

Although he is considered to have speed, Granderson is not the stealing type, or at least hasn’t been lately. He has has only had one 20+ SB year with the Yankees, and that was in 2011 when he had 25. In that year he had 6.3 BaseRunning Runs Above Average, the only year with the Yankees where that mark was higher than 1.1. So in general, his baserunning is a non-factor. And one can tell by his decrease in RngR that his speed is diminishing.

His Future

I do believe the Yankees will offer Granderson the qualifying offer and I do believe he will take it. Considering the negative trends my analysis has highlighted, it would be in his best interest to try to prove them wrong and show that his ISO can be elevated to 2011-esque levels. Let’s suppose that Granderson does follow this and has the year that Steamer predicts: a line of .238/.327/.458 (113 wRC+) with 28 home runs. If I were the Yankees in this circumstance, a 3 year/$36 mil deal would be in theirs and Granderson’s best interests, depending on market prices and need, of course. For another team to outbid the Yankees, they would have to have a particular need (power hitting corner outfielder) and must have a short porch in right field to support his ~20% HR/FB%; the team that fits this qualification best is the Yankees, but it’s unknown how needs will evolve for other teams. Even with a decline in ISO, Granderson is and will be an above-average hitter with decent defense in the corners for at least another four years, and that’s something many teams, including the Yankees, could find valuable.

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