Curtis Granderson has proven to be a jewel in the Detroit Tigers rejuvenation as a competitive and playoff-worthy baseball team.
The 28-year-old centerfielder is the linchpin of the Tigers’ offense. Sure the complete road to the Major League Baseball Playoffs is a team collective, but Granderson as the team’s leadoff hitter is the table-setter.
So far this year, the team’s offense has been less than stellar, so if the Tigers are going to make the last third of the season a memorable one, men like Granderson will have to do some special things to elevate the Tigers back into the MLB Playoffs with the potential of recreating the magic of the 2006 season.
Although Granderson’s batting average is not to the level he exhibited in the past couple years, he is still having an impact on the Tigers’ chance at earning a playoff spot.
In the 2007 and 2008 campaigns he had batting averages of .302 and .280 respectfully.
Hitting at a .260 clip with two-thirds of the season in the books, thus far he has stepped up his power numbers and has kept himself a viable component to the Tigers offensive prowess.
Granderson is second on the team with 22 home runs and that number is one short of his career high of 23 in 2007. If he keeps at this pace it is safe to project that he will sock at least 30 home runs.
“Nothing has changed in my approach,” he said. “I’m using the same bat, my weight is the same and I’m batting in the same spot in the lineup.”
Regarding his batting average, Granderson said that it was not a concern.
“I think batting average is somewhat overrated,” he continued. “Sure, everyone looks at what a person’s average is as a gauge to what they are contributing to a team. But if a person is getting on base, moving the runners, scoring runs and getting quality RBI’s, then at the end of the day those are the most important things.”
Granderson has a team high 20 stolen bases (his career high is 26); he is also leading the team in runs scored (67), triples (6), walks (54) and total bases (202).
To highlight his overall contributions to his team, amazingly as the leadoff man, he is third on the team in RBI’s. That’s an honor should go to the middle of the batting lineup.
It appears Granderson peers in the league respect and admire his prowess, as he was voted onto the 2009 MLB All-Star Team. In the game he tripled and scored the winning run.
“I was surprised when I look at all the talented players in the league,” he said. “I had booked a flight home to Chicago when I got the word I was selected for the team. I heard the players voted me on.
“It was really cool that my mother and father drove to the game (in St Louis),” he proudly noted. “The best part is I got a chance to ride back home with them after the game.”
Granderson said he is not worried about the team’s suspect hitting and thinks they have what it takes to bring the season to an exciting ending.
“A lot of people are talking about our offense and how we need another bat,” he said. “But the offense has been good enough to keep us in first place. I think we have the players; we just have to pick it up. I will not be surprised to see guys get in a groove and produce at a high level.”
Granderson also acknowledged the efforts of the Tigers pitching staff. “After last year, I think the pitchers came into the season with something to prove,” he said. “Edwin (Jackson) came in wanting to show everyone that what he did last year in Tampa was not a fluke. Justin (Verlander) wanted to put last year in the past and get back to the level that made him one of the best pitchers in baseball. What (Fernando) Rodney has done
as the closer has been a source of strength for the entire team.
“Our pitching staff has done an excellent job for us, but in the long run it is a team effort that gets a team over the hump. It takes offense, defense and pitching to produce a playoff team. And I think we have just the right mix of all of it to carry us to the end.”
If the Tigers do outlast Chicago and Minnesota, there is not doubt Granderson with his defense or bat or feet will be in the center of it all.