Blog Entry

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Posted on: January 27, 2012 11:11 am

By Matt Snyder

So here we are, the final entry in our series. For those who have enjoyed the series and taken part in the discussion, we thank you. For those who hate fun, remember to kick and scream about how it's absurd to "compare" the two when someone asks you if you would rather eat Mexican or Chinese food.

Anyway, we'll close the series with a meeting between MLB's two biggest rivals of the past decade. Maybe Rangers-Angels or something else supplants the Yankees-Red Sox intensity/hatred moving forward, but what we've seen in the recent past isn't paralleled.

So we'll check out the respective left-handed center fielders who each placed in the top four of AL MVP voting last season. Yes, it's Curtis Granderson vs. Jacoby Ellsbury.

The case for Granderson

Would You Rather Have
We've known Granderson could play for a while. Back in 2007, he had an insane stat-filling season, with 122 runs, 38 doubles, 23 triples, 23 homers and 26 stolen bases while hitting .302 with a .913 OPS. In 2009, however, his average dipped all the way down to .249 and, despite hitting 30 home runs, his inability to hit left-handers became a huge problem.

Now, we know that Granderson hit 41 homers last season while driving home 119 and scoring 136. But it's a myth that this power surge came from out of nowhere. He made major adjustments to his swing in August of 2010 and started the heavy hitting before that season ended. In the last 46 games of '10, Granderson hit 14 home runs, which prorates to a pace of 49 in a 162-game season.

In addition to that, he's cured his woes against lefties. In fact, Granderson hit for better rate stats against left-handers (.272/.347/.597) than against righties (.258/.372/.531) in 2011.

Also, if you wanna whine about Yankee Stadium being friendly to left-handed hitters -- which, yes, it is -- please at least note that Granderson hit 21 home runs at home and 20 on the road last year.

Finally, durability is in Granderson's favor. From 2006-11 he averaged 152 games per season while Ellsbury only played 18 games in all of 2010.

The case for Ellsbury

After a lost 2010 season, Ellsbury ended up being perhaps the best offensive player in the American League in 2011. He led the majors with 364 total bases while hitting .321/.376/.552 with 32 homers, 105 RBI, 119 runs, 46 doubles and 39 stolen bases. This guy was a fantasy baseball players' dream last season.

Similar to Granderson, Ellsbury has to fight the stigma that his power surge was either a fluke or "came from out of nowhere." With Ellsbury it pretty much did, though. He only hit 10 career home runs in 259 minor-league games. He entered 2011 with 20 home runs in 1,510 big-league plate appearances. The explanation is that Ellsbury's home runs per fly ball went all the way up to 16.7 percent. That's a large figure for a guy his size, but it's certainly possible he developed power while in the majors. He wouldn't be the first guy to do so.

Ellsbury also took home the Gold Glove in center, while most advanced defensive metrics scored him as one of the very best defensive players in baseball.

Age is in Ellsbury's favor, too, though it's not near as big a deal as one might think. Ellsbury turned 28 in September while Granderson will turn 31 in March. So it's a difference of 2 1/2 years.

Our call

I believe it comes down to if you believe Ellsbury's power in 2011 was real. He's superior everywhere else, but power was a huge reason Ellsbury had a far better WAR than Granderson in '11 and finished higher in MVP voting despite the Red Sox's collapse. Next year at this time it will be a much easier answer, but for now I'm rolling the dice and going Ellsbury.

Fan Vote:

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Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: February 1, 2012 12:54 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

First, the length of the deal doesn't matter. They offered him a deal and he signed. So much for your entire first post. Second, who ever called him a franchise player? There goes this post. You should really just stop talking.

Since: Dec 21, 2006
Posted on: February 1, 2012 12:41 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

cause it's normal to sign a franchise player to a one year deal.

Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: February 1, 2012 11:30 am

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Way to get COMPLETELY off the point Scooter. You're probably one of those clowns that go around correcting everyone's grammar on their posts too, huh? The whole point was he got hurt colliding with another player going hard for a ball, which contradicts another post questioning his defense and toughness. So how about you get a life now or atleast add something of substance to the conversation? The latter is probably too much to ask of you so just get a life.

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: February 1, 2012 1:33 am

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Slender obviously you don't remember who was in left field because it was Ellsbury, Cameron started the year in center. He collided with Beltr at third. Nice call though

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: January 31, 2012 10:48 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Right...and Boston fans have a corner on the intelligence market?


Take it somewhere else!

Granderson 56% to 44% for Little Brother! 

Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: January 31, 2012 3:03 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

C'mon Peter....Ellsbury JUST signed another one year deal with Boston about a month ago. Atleast know what you're talking about before you go spewing a bunch of rhetorical nonsense. It's good to be a fan, but atleast be an intelligent one. We've all heard quite enough from Yankee fans that just talk out their azz without anything to back it up with.

Since: Dec 21, 2006
Posted on: January 31, 2012 2:41 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

If this turns into a Red Sox/Yankee thing, it shouldn't be.  When Ellsbury's contract is up he will NOT sign with the Red Sox.  All his teamates called him out 2 years ago when he was hurt saying that he was not that badly hurt when he couldn't play.  Those same teamates acted like complete jackasses last year and Bobby V is going to have some time putting that clubhouse back together.  With that said go Yanks.

Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: January 31, 2012 2:40 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Right on Bizona! I mean, does JoeBeans even remember how Ellsbury broke his ribs to begin with? BY GOING HARD AFTER A SHALLOW FLY BALL!!! He collided with whoever was in left field that day for them. Oh yah, he still stayed in the game too! Sounds pretty tough to me! And JoeBeans, Granderson's arm is nothing special either. He had 9 OF assists to Ellsbury's 6 so they're both similar in arm strength. Another thing is Ellsbury has a WAR of 8.2, which was the best in ALL of baseball in 2011. And here's an exerp from an article comparing both of them before the MVP award was decided:

Ellsbury has played a much better center field this season than Granderson. On the surface, these two look pretty comparable statistically on defense. Ellsbury is yet to make an error, while Granderson only has three. Granderson also has nine outfield assists to Ellsbury’s six. Similar, yes?

But once again, I’ll revert back to more reliable stats to compare the two. The best advanced fielding statistic in baseball right now is called UZR (ultimate zone rating.) The stat takes variables like arm strength, range, and errors into account and, like WAR, attempts to quantify it. Unlike WAR though, UZR measures the number of runs a given fielder saves, or if he’s a poor defender, costs.

Ellsbury’s UZR in 2011 is 15.8, making him one of the best outfielders in the game this season. While Granderson has actually hurt his team in centerfield as his UZR sits at -5.9. The Grandyman’s struggles in center have been well documented, and ESPN’s Mark Simon did a on his poor defense. As Beyond the Box Score , advanced defensive stats still have a long way to go, but there’s no doubt that Ellsbury has meant much more to his team as a defender then Granderson.

Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: January 31, 2012 2:29 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Sorry Slugr1, but Hamilton does NOT put more pressure on the pitcher. He's a more dangerous hitter, but Ellsbury and Granderson are dangerous hitters too PLUS they KEEP the pressure on the pitcher when they get on base because you have to worry about them stealing second AND third! Hamilton's never stolen more than 9 bases in a season. Ellsbury and Granderson also hit more HR's than Hamilton AND had more RBI AND runs scored last year. And that whole "Ellsbury only has to play half of CF" is b.s. because he runs balls down in every other park too and Tampa and Toronto both have big fields with a lot of ground to cover. And I don't know if you ever noticed, but the ballpark in Arlington isn't exactly on the bigger side either.

Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: January 31, 2012 2:08 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

JoeBeans, we should've all followed your example and just based out judgements of players on ONE PLAY. That would be so much easier.
Tongue out

Ellsbury dives for plenty of balls. In fact, he's been accused of going too hard in the field at times. It's fine to think Granderson is much better, but to suggest Ellsbury doesn't try hard is way off-base and shows you either can't see past the fact that Granderson played for your favorite team or you don't watch the Red Sox. He and Pedroia are actually the only two guys on the Sox whose effort no one could criticize this past September. If you're going to criticize someone, at least base it on something real.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or