I’ll start off by making one thing clear: I do not think that Curtis Granderson’s year last year was a total bust. Yes, I know how dreadful his slumps were. I watch at the very least 140 New York Mets games a year, if not more, so I do know what I’m talking about.
He seemed to go through month-long stretches where he was unbearable to watch, but then go through tears that would last just as long. If you took out his April, his May through the All-Star Game would’ve gotten him All-Star Game consideration. But, I’m not going to go through last year in detail. We all know how it went down. His overall numbers were decent, but didn’t reach expectations. But there is reason to be excited about Granderson’s 2015.
1. Walls Moving In
Realistically, the walls being brought in isn’t as big a deal as most seem to think it is. They are only bringing in right-center in a few feet. But, for Granderson, those are a significant few feet. Last year, he hit 20 home runs. Had the walls been in their new position, he would’ve hit 29. That’s a big difference for a few feet. And with the other reasons I’m going to mention combined, there’s no reason to think he can’t reach that number or even exceed it. We obviously can’t expect his Yankee-years home run totals, because, well, Citi Field is a little bit bigger than Yankee Stadium. But 30 home runs hitting fifth, sixth, second, first, or wherever, sounds pretty good to me.
2. Kevin Long is the New Hitting Coach
This is arguably the biggest factor. Granderson had career years with Long in Yankee pinstripes a few years back. Now Yankee Stadium’s right-field porch obviously played a role in that, but even that doesn’t just guarantee you back-to-back 40 home run seasons. Long and Granderson became very close, and Long’s biggest reason for being hired was probably his experience with Granderson. The two have been working all offseason together, and some can already tell the difference. Granderson has gone back to a batting stance closer to that used during his Yankee years, as pointed out on an SNY broadcast, and is having a big Spring Training. If Long does nothing else but bring Granderson back to old form, it will be a job well done.
3. Comfort in the Clubhouse
Even though, it was the same city, Granderson was still the new guy last year. And even though he has been the new guy before and there were no reported issues, you never know what might throw some guys off. It’s been said a player’s first day with a new team is like the first day of school. Maybe, despite his experience in New York, Granderson got a little caught up. This is all pretty unlikely, but is still a possibility. Granderson has an outgoing and happy personality, does lots of charity work, and seems to fit perfectly with the team. Maybe now that he’s coming into Spring Training knowing what to expect and what’s going on, he’ll be more comfortable and be able to focus a little more. Again, this is unlikely, but possible.
Overall, I think Granderson will be fine. He has a had a fine career and I don’t see him falling apart all of a sudden. I personally feel that, if he can hit .240 or so with about 30 home runs and 80-or-so RBI’s, that will be a successful season. Even if he’s a little under that, as long as he’s consistently doing pretty good, we won’t have much to worry about. With it being a new year and some beneficial changes happening, it’s a good bet to think we should be getting the Curtis Granderson the Mets paid for.