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: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: January 28, 2012 9:23 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Thanks for making my case notorious...... The dumb ones never do get it
I know.  You obviously didn't get it.

Since: Mar 14, 2010
Posted on: January 28, 2012 9:19 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Both have power flukes. Ellsbury wont break 30 homeruns in a season ever again and Grandersons playing in a joke of a ballpark so the power thing isn't much of a factor for me cause it's skewed. The writer stating that 2 1/2 years isn't enough of an age difference to matter one being under 30 and the other being over I feel like theres more of a factor there than ya think.  Ellsbury's monster numbers last year, the age thing, and the glove make him the choice.

Since: Nov 23, 2010
Posted on: January 28, 2012 8:12 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

This is a Yankee Fans perspective.  Obviously when talking about comparable players you always go with the younger guy so let's leave age out of the equation and talk about it for next season.  If you could assure me that Ellsbury will still hit with this kind of power then I would give the edge to him because of his base stealing ability.  Defensively both are two of the best, both can cover the outfield and have a good enough arm.  Both are excellent hitters and Granderson has proven he can hit lefties.  Granderson's power splits are even home and away.  Slight advantage to him but like I said, if Ellsbury will hit with this kind of power consistently then he is ahead of him.

Since: Aug 22, 2007
Posted on: January 28, 2012 5:02 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Power draws people to Granderson but honestly isn't he a product of his atmosphere?  Right now numbers wise I think you still have to go with Ellsbury just based off of all around importance.  Power is great and it attracts the fantasy geeks but if you want to build a baseball team having a guy with Ellsburys' speed and add some power to that sure is nice

Since: Jan 24, 2012
Posted on: January 28, 2012 4:25 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?


Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: January 28, 2012 4:06 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

These comparisons are becoming tiresome insofar as the "younger" guy is always taken.  Yawn.

Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: January 28, 2012 3:43 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

you can't be serious? dude get off the drugs right now..... RIGHT NOW!

Since: Jan 27, 2012
Posted on: January 28, 2012 3:12 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Yankee Stadium field dimensions
Left Field Line - 318 feet (97 m)
Left Field - 379 feet (116 m)
Left-Center - 399 feet (122 m)
Center Field - 408 feet (124 m)
Right-Center - 385 feet (117 m)
Right Field - 353 feet (108 m)
Right Field Line - 314 feet (96 m)

Fenway Park dimensions 
Left Field: 310 ft (94.5 m)
Deep Left-Center: 379 ft (115.5 m)
Center Field: 389 ft 9 in (118.8 m)
Deep Right-Center: 420 ft (128 m)
Right Center: 380 ft (115.8 m)
Right Field: 302 ft (92 m)
sorry I don't see a huge advantage here for left-handed hitters.   

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: January 28, 2012 2:50 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

OK Matt fair enough...I'll take your word for it.


You have put three Yankees up in these comparison pieces to date...


You have picked other players against all three!


Doesn't LOOK to be very objective!


The worst of the picks was Pedey over Cano...I mean really...


Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: January 28, 2012 2:25 pm

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

The pole is 302... listen..  Whats right center at fenway to right center at yankee? 350?  fenway... 380.. how about the rest????  dude.. seriously.. I can't believe you actually brought up the small window at 302.....  I get youre a yankee fan, and you hate boston... I love yankee history... and would take the yankees over the red sox any day.. i hate ALL boston teams just as much as yankee fans... but take the goggles off brother

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