Monday, 25 February 2013

What the Granderson Injury Means

I'd like to start off by saying that we probably shouldn't be applauding an injury, just in case anybody out there thinks that I'm doing that.  We're all free to our own vices, and if one of those is lauding in the physical pain of others, well, you're entirely within your own rights to do so.  You're probably kind of an asshole, but you're certainly allowed to be one.  Hell, I'm a huge asshole.  Just for different reasons, like swearing out loud or failing to stifle farts in public.

If you've missed it, JA Happ hit Curtis Granderson yesterday with a devastating 82 MPH changeup, which broke Granderson's wrist, and will force him out of action for the next ten weeks.

Yes, this might help the Blue Jays win more games than they otherwise would have, and yes, this might certainly cause the Yankees to win fewer games this season.  More Blue Jays wins and fewer Yankees wins are both, in all likelihood, in the best interests of a significant majority of the people who will ever read this, much less know that it exists.  This, of course, assumes that the Jays and Yankees are the best and second best teams in the AL East, which is probably a massive oversimplification of things.

Alright, so what's the point?

Well, first off, losing Granderson isn't really all that big of a deal.  If Granderson was going to play CF to start the season (he should be playing in either corner), the natural replacement in CF is Brett Gardner, who happens to be better suited for the position than Granderson.  It's obviously quite a bit easier to fill a hole in a corner OF spot than it is to fill a CF gap.  Given how good Gardner is defensively, and how mediocre Granderson has been defensively since 2007, getting Gardner in to CF is probably enough of a bonus to offset the loss of Granderson.

This is, of course, because Granderson isn't missing the whole year, or even 10 weeks of the season.  He's missing 10 weeks total, starting now.  Ten weeks from today will be five weeks in to the season.  That's only  about 1/6th of the year.

Looking at the projections for Granderson, we can expect him to miss out on enough playing time to lose anywhere from 0.4 to 0.75 WAR (i.e. .83*[whichever WAR projection you're using].  I'm pretty sure those projections have him playing CF, but it doesn't make a huge difference if you just kind of dick around with a WAR calculator, even if you put him in left.  So less than a win, assuming the Yankees get replacement-level production from whoever replaces him.

While it's kind of tough to guess who the Yankees will use to replace Granderson for those five weeks of the year, if I were to take a guess, I'd say it will be a platoon between any number of mediocre guys, such as Juan Rivera, Jayson Nix and Melky Mesa.  Assuming they can find someone in there who can hit righty pitching, it probably won't be a big deal, as the difference between a reasonably effective platoon and Curtis Granderson really won't be magnified over the course of 5-ish weeks.  Again, if Gardner plays CF, you can probably take the lower end of that projected production loss.

The only real good news I see here is the schedule.  The Yankees will play the Jays seven times between the start of the season and the time that Granderson should be expected to return.  That's actually pretty good-- may as well get them now before Granderson and Pineda come back.  The issue there is that the Red Sox, Rays and Orioles will play the Yankees three times each during that same span, so the Jays are really only going to get one series with the advantage.  Those four games will take place at Yankee Stadium, a park that Granderson is seemingly built for.

So yeah, the Granderson injury is convenient to the Blue Jays in the sense that the Yankees will be easier to beat in those seven games early in the season.  I'd just be hesitant to count the Yankees out of this division, simply due to an injury to a single position player that might cost them a win, on the long end.   The Yankees weren't going to score 800 runs this year, the way they did last year, and losing Curtis Granderson for five weeks wasn't ever really going to affect that.

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