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: Nov 10, 2010
Posted on: January 31, 2012 12:05 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

I remember 1 play the best (watch 70% of them) from the Red Sox season last year, it was the last game of the year and the Sox obviously need a win an the complete B1TCH in Jaccoby Ellsbury came out, He had the ball in his glove running making a catch in CF and what happened, he ran into the wall (not hard at all either) and dropped the ball that extended the game for the O's and was a big reason why they lost that game. Does anyone remember when Aaron Rowand absolutly DESTROYED his whole entire face on the wall and still held onto the ball, That folks is called TOUGHNESS something not one player other than Dustin Pedroia has on the Sox and do we all remember when we crowned Ellsbury the GREATEST 2 years ago he had a terrible year (missed a whole entire year basically with some broken ribs do i need to back to toughness christ). 
I dont care what anyone says Granderson is so much better in CF for the strict fact that he will hit the wall or dive head first for a ball something Ellsbury wont do its either slide or let it drop, also Granderson has an actual arm he looks like he belongs out there Ellsbury is just fast thats all he is not that good a judging balls he just has the speed to make up for it.   

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: January 31, 2012 10:32 am

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

So Snyder is the last word?

Don't think so!

Poll is final!

Granderson 55%

Little Brother 45%


Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: January 31, 2012 8:29 am

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Clergyjack, how do you figure Snyder was "wrong"? He stated who he would rather have. He probably knows the answer to that better than you.

Now, if the purpose of the article was to predict who the readers would choose, then maybe you could say he was "wrong," but as things stand, I think you've misunderstood something about this exercise. lol

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: January 30, 2012 9:29 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

OK Mr.'re probably developing a Loser Complex right about now!

You can put this one to were wrong again!

Granderson wins 54% to 8 percentage point difference in favor of Curtis Granderson!

End of story! 

Since: Jan 24, 2008
Posted on: January 30, 2012 4:23 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Why Talk about defense when it's not a FBB stat.   Ellsbury was "juiced" last year.  Granderson has always hit for power.   And yes,  Hamilton is a train wreck waiting to happen.  His injuries and other issues are a sure bet.   You draft the other two, I'll take Grandy...

Since: Nov 24, 2008
Posted on: January 30, 2012 3:24 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

I'm sorry, I'd still rather have Matt Kemp than either of these guys, and look elsewhere for my left-handed bat... The correct answer is... Matt Kemp

Since: Jun 26, 2011
Posted on: January 30, 2012 12:46 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

When either of these players actually wins an MVP award, as the best player in the league, then there will be an argument, as to who the best player is. Until that happens, Ill take Hamilton any day. He puts more fear and pressure on the other team than either of these 2. Don't get me wrong, they are both excellent players, and you couldn't go wrong having either on your team. But every time Hamilton walks to the plate, he is a bigger threat. In case you haven't seen him play often, he is a very good outfielder, with much more speed that most realize, and runs down a lot of balls. Ellsbury only has to play half of centerfield, in that cracker box, and plays more than half his balls off the left field fence.

Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: January 30, 2012 11:18 am

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

I'd take Ellsbury for a couple reasons. Both players are pretty equal, but Ellsbury is younger and he's on the Red Sox and, well, I'm a Red Sox fan.

However, even if I weren't a Red Sox fan, I'd take Ellsbury because Yankees fans really seem to get butt-hurt when someone picks against one of their players, even in a meaningless little exercise of thought like this.
Tongue out

Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: January 30, 2012 10:43 am

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

No one disputes Hamilton's ability, but he spends WAY too much time on the DL and it's never for anything small. He misses atleast a month at a time. Ellsbury has only ever had that one bad injury season so I don't consider him an injury risk. Also, Hamilton doesn't have the speed of Ellsbury or Granderson, which plays into what he can do defensively and how much ground he can cover versus those two. The debate isn't about when everyone's healthy. The debate is going into next season, who would you bank on having the better season. You can bank on Hamilton missing atleast 20-30 games because it happens every year. Then there's the issue of keeping him clean, which has to be an every day struggle for him and that has to get tedius from a mental point of view. So once again, ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, I'll still take Ellsbury and I think him and Granderson are both all around better CENTER FIELDERS than Hamilton. Hamilton isn't anything special defensively and CF is just too important a position to throw a mediocre fielder out there when you could have one of the top 2 CF's in the game instead.

Since: Jun 26, 2011
Posted on: January 30, 2012 10:35 am

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

While I agree that both of these players are very good, to say they are the two best CF is not even close. I'll take Josh Hamilton any day over both. When he is healthy, he puts more fear into the opposing teams than both of these. I also know he is injury prone, as is Ellsbury, but when all 3 of these players are hea;thy, I;ll take Hamilton, hands down every day.

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