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: January 30, 2012 10:01 am

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Man, I hate even having to choose on this one, but I gotta go Ellsbury. He's a little better defensively even though Granderson's no slouch. He's also a better base runner even though Granderson's no slouch there either. I like that Granderson can be effective hitting in about 4 different spots in the lineup where Ellsbury is only a leadoff hitter. I do think both hitters benefit A LOT by the killer lineups around them, but they're still the two best CF's in the game. Ellsbury being 2 1/2 years younger definitely makes the difference since CF is a speed position so youth counts. So by the slightest of margins, I'll take Ellsbury, but nothing but respect to Granderson too!

Since: Apr 17, 2010
Posted on: January 30, 2012 9:30 am

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Jacoby Ellsbury easily. He's a better defensive center fielder, hit for a much better average, struck out half as much, stole more bases, and his runs scored/RBI numbers are comparable to Granderson's from last year. Their power numbers are also very similar and Ellsbury is a couple years younger. This isn't close in my opinion.

Since: Feb 3, 2007
Posted on: January 30, 2012 12:15 am

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

The thing that i don't quite get about Ellsbury is the sudden offensive numbers.  I am posting a link that will show both his minor league and major league numbers from baseball  There is geberally a gradual "up-trend" in development.  Ellsbury had a 55% increase in almost every stat from his 2008-2009 seasons (his last full seasons).  He came back from a full year injury and raised runs, hits, doubled doubles, quadrupled homers, double RBIs, and raised SLG and OPS by 25%?  I think Ellsbury had a fine year last year, but he had a Pedroia "MVP" type season.  Are we really going to see those types of numbers again?  They came out of nowhere in a season when the Red Sox NEEDED a field warrior. 

Please review Granderson's numbers.  They have always been the same whether he was in the minors or the majors.  He has gradually gotten better from year to year to year.  He is in the middle of his prime while Ellsbury is just hitting his prime. 

I am looking at this from a consistency point of view.  Ellsbury is 3 years younger so has youth on his side, but this one great year out of nowhere nakes me cautious to choose him.  I see the trend of Granderson, I know where he is going.  I have to choose him. 

On the other fronts, of defense and speed I give the edge to Ellsbury.  If Ellsbury repeats last year's offensive performance this year, he wins this debate.  Right now I am not convinced he will perform the same this year as he did last year.


Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: January 29, 2012 11:49 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

OK Mr. Snyder,

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: Dec 14, 2011
Posted on: January 29, 2012 10:00 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Nov 3, 2010
Posted on: January 29, 2012 9:32 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Sorry Dex, no offense meant to you. Notorious seemed to be coveting your "wife", just playing along.......

Since: Dec 14, 2011
Posted on: January 29, 2012 8:53 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Dec 18, 2010
Posted on: January 29, 2012 8:47 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Please...................end this was nothing but filler for the past 2 weeks and almost turned me into a non-baseball more article like this and synchronized swimming is going to be ahead of baseball in the pecking order

Since: Nov 3, 2010
Posted on: January 29, 2012 8:36 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Talk about cherry picking my friend, I believe you left a few exchanges out of you post. It's ok I expected that from you.
For the record jackass left center field in Fenway is a full 20 feet shorter than Yankee Stadium. Yeah nearly identical my ass. I'll add this comment back in since you didn't want to seem to highlight this one. So while you watch Ellsbury watch the ball go off the Green Monster and throw the ball back in to second base for a double, I'll watch Granderson go get it at 399'. Oh I forgot Granderson had three errors last season. Truth is I know what I see when I watch a game and Granderson makes a great catch virtually every time he has a chance, and he gets a lot of chances in Yankee Stadium.

Now back to Dex's wife for you, don't leave her unsatisfied pencil dick!!!!!!

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: January 29, 2012 8:11 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Lizard King :
Whats absolutley hilarious is the clowns who think Ellsbury is better defensively.
Me :
They probably think that because Ellsbury has 2 errors in his career.  Granderson had 3 last year alone.  That's 1,212 chances for Ellsbury and 2 errors.  368 for Granderson (last season) and 3.
Lizard King :
Thanks for making my case notorious...... The dumb ones never do get it

Yeah, you really showed me, didn't you?  Like I said, no evidence, just hot air.

Here is the big number, average games played by Granderson 152 over the last 5 years, games played in 2010 by Ellsbury 18. How you like those numbers???
And the other 3 seasons?  At least 145 games?  Yeah, that's right.  Good job at cherry picking one season out of 4 to "prove" whatever stupid, moronic, blind, homer Yankee fan point you're trying to make.

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