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What to expect from Curtis Granderson

The veteran outfielder adds depth and a solid bat off the bench

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

One of their flurry of deals at the end of August roster trade deadline for the Milwaukee Brewers brought veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson (age 37) for A+ level outfield prospect Demi Orimoloye. Granderson is a free agent at season’s end, so he is a true rental. It was voted the least popular of the waiver trade period, but perhaps has the best chance to improve the Crew’s chances in the coming month.

We’ll look at Granderson’s pedigree first. Over 16 seasons the lefty outfielder has hit 330 career home runs and slashed .245/.343/.439 over that career. His OPS is .782. His career walk rate is 11.1% but he has exceeded that in each of the past five seasons. His career strikeout rate is 22.9%, but it has been worse than that for the last two seasons. He hit 40+ homers for the Yankees in each of the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

While all of that is interesting, the 37 year old Granderson is a much different player than the early 20’s version, so in looking at what he will mean to the Brewers it is more elucidating to look at what he’s done for the Jays this season.

First off, he was used by the Jays as a platoon player almost exclusively this season. Of his 355 plate appearances, he had only 26 against lefties. And he didn’t do well in those, recording only had three hits and three walks while striking out in half of the opportunities. He did have two doubles in the three hits.

Overall, he had a very nice 12.7% walk rate but struck out 27.3% of the time. His line drive rate this season has climbed to 31.7% vs a career mark of 21.4%, and his HR/FB ratio has held steady at 14.3% (career 14.7%).

The player that will be most impacted by this deal is Eric Thames. Thames has been in a horrific slump over the past month (OPS .421; 22 strikeouts in 42 plate appearances, 1 double and 1 homer). at this point, Granderson offers a much more consistent bat and a better corner outfielder when the Crew wants to rest any of their starters. In addition, Thames is less necessary to back up Jesus Aguilar with the current infield construction, as Travis Shaw can take the job if necessary.

In his small sample size debut for the Brewers, Granderson has six plate appearances and has been on base four times with a hit and three walks. He has scored twice. Yeah, it’s early, but he is doing exactly what one would hope.

Much has been made of the value of the “veteran presence” and “post-season experience” that players like Granderson bring. It seems that the Brewers are fine there already, with Lo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Ryan Braun, and even Jonathan Schoop in the field. The value added, to me, is more in the area of “having been there before” when he is actually playing. The moment won’t be too big for him.

I’m not expecting too many more starts for Curtis this season, but am hopeful that he will have a larger role than Thames down the stretch. I would expect that he would be on the roster for postseason play should the Brewers get there, possibly over Thames.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs