Posted by John Dewan on December 16, 2015
July 24, 2015
Curtis Granderson produced some exceptional seasons with the Tigers and Yankees, but a broken forearm and finger limited him to 61 games in 2013, his last with the Yankees. He was already 33 years old in 2014, the first year of his new four-year, $60 million contract with the Mets. With his power numbers down that ensuing season, one might wonder whether Granderson had entered the decline phase of his career. However, Granderson’s batted ball profile told a different story.
Baseball Info Solutions charts the location of and times every batted ball, and with that information, we can evaluate hitters based on their quality of contact rather than the actual results. For example, if a hitter hits a hard liner to shallow left field that just happens to be caught, its result is an out that seems no different than a lazy pop out. However, we can compare that line drive to balls with similar trajectories historically to discover how often those types of balls become outs and then award credit based on those ratios. In that example, the hitter might earn 0.8 hits because this type of batted ball tends to become hits (even though it did not in that specific instance).
The aggregation of those expected values, which we call Defense-Independent Batting Statistics (DIBS), have proven to be more effective than actual results at predicting future results. Meanwhile, check out Granderson’s actual batting line and DIBS batting line from 2014:
|Curtis Granderson, 2014|
Even in his best seasons, Granderson did not have exceptional batting averages. Still, DIBS expected him to have 15 more hits than he actually had last season. Meanwhile, his power numbers were especially below expectations. DIBS suggested Granderson should have hit five more doubles, two more triples, and five more home runs than he did based on his batted ball trajectories.
|Curtis Granderson, 2015|
So far this season, Granderson has produced numbers much more in-line with both his 2014 DIBS numbers and his 2015 DIBS numbers. His actual batting average of .251 is just two points off his DIBS average from last season, and his 14 home runs through 404 plate appearances has him on pace to hit 23 this year. On the surface, Granderson seemed to decline sharply in 2014 and then bounce back so far this season. However, his DIBS numbers suggest that his 2014 production underachieved what would be expected with the quality of his batted balls, and so far in 2015, he has maintained a similar level of play.