Tyler Kepner writes this about the Yankees today:
Really, though, things keep happening to the Yankees, with discouraging regularity. Derek Jeter’s ankle. C. C. Sabathia’s elbow. Alex Rodriguez’s hip. Phil Hughes’s back. And now Curtis Granderson’s forearm, fractured by a pitch Sunday in his first plate appearance of the spring.
Granderson has flaws. Last season he set a team record for strikeouts, with 195, and a career low for batting average, at .232. But his value comes from his power, the one element the Yankees sacrificed most in their lackluster winter. They lost Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Eric Chavez and Raul Ibanez to free agency.
No other major leaguer can come within 10 home runs of Granderson’s total for the last two seasons. He has hit 84 homers since the start of 2011. The next two players on the list, Ryan Braun and Miguel Cabrera, have 74 apiece.
So the premier power hitter in the game, by that measure, will be missing from the lineup until early May. And Rodriguez, of course, will be gone even longer. Including Jeter, who has not yet been cleared for exhibition games, the Yankees are missing seven of their top nine home run hitters from last season.
“I believe they’ll find a way to get it done,” Manager Joe Girardi said Monday. “I know people talk a lot about how we’ve lost home runs from last year. They try to put a number on it. But when they put a number on it, they don’t put a number on the home runs the guys we did add this year are going to hit.”
Girardi named Gardner, who was hurt for most of last season; Ichiro Suzuki, who joined the team in July; and the veteran imports Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis. He did not mention any catchers or replacements for Granderson.
“For one month, we’re going to be without Grandy,” Girardi said. “We’ll find a way to score runs.”
The short-term loss of Granderson alone is not much to overcome. On average, he hits about seven home runs a month. Whoever gets the bulk of the playing time in his absence — Matt Diaz, Melky Mesa, Juan Rivera — might hit two or three.
So the Yankees, if they do nothing, probably lose four or five home runs a month. Those four or five homers, in some abstract form, could add up to one win. Maybe.
Funny, I was just reading in Baseball Prospectus yesterday that Granderson’s 2012 season was among the 25 least valuable 40-HR seasons since 1950 because of his poor batting average, fielding, etc. And, he was the only “up the middle” player in the “Worst 25″ (as all the others were DH or corner OF/INF guys).
Losing Curtis Granderson for 6 weeks of the regular season may not be the reason why the Yankees do poorly this year. If fact, the reason why they do poorly may be the result of having Curtis Granderson play for them from May through September.