Blog Entry

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Posted on: January 27, 2012 11:11 am
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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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Comments

Since: Nov 3, 2010
Posted on: January 28, 2012 2:11 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Thanks for making my case notorious...... The dumb ones never do get it



Since: Jan 27, 2012
Posted on: January 28, 2012 1:48 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Just so you know the right field in Fenway is 302 and left is 310 so actually Yankee Stadium is 8 feet deeper to right.  I think they are both great players, but I would take Granderson every time.



Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: January 28, 2012 1:37 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

As a lover of baseball... and a hater of the red sox.... this debate isnt even CLOSE... its Ellsbury ALL the way.. how the heck can anyone think Grandersons power is sooo great hitting in a park with a 310 fence down right?  Come on ppl.... this really isnt even close.... Ellsbery is hands down one of the best players in baseball... granderson might not even be in the top 4 best players in that position, let alone baseball.  Take the HR's away from both players..... and youd take ellsbury easily. 



Since: Jan 28, 2012
Posted on: January 28, 2012 1:37 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

I have no problem with the verdict in this instance. As a Yankees fan, I'm just happy to have one of the guys in this conversation.



Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: January 28, 2012 1:14 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Not even remotely close to being anti-New York. I love New York. I'm fine with the Yankees and very much respect the organization. Granderson is impossible to not like for anyone who has ever interviewed him (and, yes, I've had the pleasure). He's a true class act.

I think it's a bit unfair to claim bias when someone makes an objective choice. And that's my job, to be objective. Feel free to disagree, but I take exception to the claims that I'm being anything but objective. Just say I'm stupid or wrong or something ...

Take care.

- Matt



Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: January 28, 2012 1:05 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

That's fine Matt; but for the record...none of the Polls associated with your articles bore out your observations when it came to the Pinstripers!

Just saying...your in the minority...perhaps just a bit anti-NY?

C'mon be honest!

OK now! 



Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: January 28, 2012 12:24 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Clergyjack:

"all these different" Red Sox players? I went Pedrioa barely over Cano and Ellsbury -- again, in a coin flip -- over Granderson. I didn't do any other Yankees vs. Red Sox. I'd easily take Sabathia over any Red Sox pitcher and it's quite obvious I'd go Rivera over Bailey as closer, even if just for one year. We could go on.

Also, I was the only staff member to pick the Yankees over the Red Sox in the AL East last season.

Settle down and enjoy your team.

- Matt



Since: Nov 11, 2007
Posted on: January 28, 2012 12:00 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Maybe this article would be more relevent next year when we see if Ellsbury comes even close to duplicating his 2011 stats. 



Since: Sep 6, 2011
Posted on: January 28, 2012 10:55 am
 

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

glad this stupid topic/column will fiinally end...



Since: Apr 21, 2007
Posted on: January 28, 2012 10:42 am
 

Would You Rather Have: Granderson or Ellsbury?

Comment about the player pick:
I'll chicken out and call t a tie.  I shy away from Elsbury just a little bit because I *do* have to wonder - at least a little - if the power surge was an anomaly and if he's really more of a 20-22 dingers per year guy and because of a concern with whether the injury thing could reoccur.  I do think he is an ever-so-slightly better "all-around" because of the BA and that *maybe* he gets a little better jump on the ball off the bat than Granderson does.

Comment about the comments out here: Sad!
The more I come out here hoping to find intelligent colleagues/fans, the harder it gets to navigate through the *trash and idiocy* When will some of you try to just talk *baseball* instead of bull?  Here are some well-deserved smacks-on-the-nose:
  • As to the Sox's collapse: this is about Elsbury-Granderson.  The Sox's collapse is the result of an organizational failing, not Jacoby Elsbury.  There are/were some real dogs in that clubhouse - Elsbury, as far as I know (I am not a Sox fan, don't read the Boston "sports gossip column") was NOT one of them.  Blame Francona, Epstein, all of management, and if you really want to blame players, start with Varitek (he of the vaunted "leadership" qualities and Papi (whom I would believe is also of a tenure and level of accomplishment that *should* translate into clubhouse influence)
  • HGH?  Why is this even in the conversation?  Because someone doesn't have a clue to intelligently compare these players, he's got to resort to this.  Juvenile.  As of now, neither has been associated with HGH (or any other PED's); and is this country, last I looked, you are innocent until *proven* guilty.  Leave the idiotic, *unfounded* rumors to yellow-journal-page-six writers.
  • "... in your mother's basement"?!?  What are you - TWELVE?  'Nuff said.
As far as I'm concerned, Els and Grandy BOTH are young and among the elite players of the game; BOTH show good "character".  I'd love to have BOTH of these guys on the team that I root for (Yanks).  

With a few more seasons of similar accomplishment, either would be a worthy successor in the great line of CF's in Yankee history.  Same could be said, if they were leftfielders, regarding the historic succession of players there for Boston.


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