By Josh Kramer
Everyone is well aware of a few things in the American League this year. Number one, the two favorites to represent the League in the Fall Classic reside in the AL East. Number two, the AL East is without question the best division in baseball. And number three, there is no better rivalry in baseball than the Yankees and Red Sox (despite Boston’s dominance thus far this year).
But there is one other important question. Which out of these two powerhouses has the better centerfielder? In a way, this is a bit reminiscent of the 1950s in New York where there were three great centerfielders. I am of course referring to the days of Mantle, Mays, and Snider. Now I realize that these teams do not reside in the same city, but the proximity is close and the rivalry has reached a boiling point over the past decade.
So who would you rather have on your team:
Jacoby Ellsbury or Curtis Granderson?
Now these are not just the two best centerfielders in the AL East, but they are also probably the two top centerfielders in the game today. Lets take a look at the numbers.
Jacoby Ellsbury: 4th year in the MLB (really 3rd healthy one), 27-years-old, .313 batting average, 19 home runs, 72 RBIs, .367 OBP, 31 stolen bases, 1.00o fielding percentage (AKA, perfection with 0 errors)
Curtis Granderson: 7th full year in the MLB, 30-years-old, .273 batting average, 32 home runs, 93 RBIs, .364 OBP, 22 stolen bases, .989 fielding percentage (3 errors on the year)
Talk about MVP caliber numbers. Both centerfielders are having career years on teams that are playing outstanding baseball. The Red Sox have won 7 of their last 10, while the Yankees have come out victorious in 10 of their last 14. Oddly enough, all four of the Yankees losses could be pitted on their ace CC Sabathia, or the best closer of all time, Mariano Rivera. Weird I know. But back to the topic at hand.
Who would you want on your team?
Well number one, is your team looking for a leadoff hitter or two-hole guy? That would make the decision real easy in that Ellsbury is a true leadoff hitter while Granderson is a two-hole (or three-hole guy, since ARod went on the DL) at this point in his career. But lets forget what type of hitter you are looking for. On raw numbers, I think it is almost too close to tell.
There are two key statistics in my eyes though. And those reside with that of OBS and stolen bases. In terms of OBS, Ellsbury is at .367, while Granderson is at .364. And then in terms of stolen bases, Ellsbury has 31, while Granderson has swiped 22 bags this year. These numbers are surprisingly very close. Because in the power categories, Granderson is dominating Ellsbury with 13 more home runs and 21 more RBIs. In addition, Granderson is 30-years-old, and in his 7th full season in the MLB. Ellsbury is 27-years-old, and in really his 3rd full season in the MLB. Granderson is in the heart of his prime. Ellsbury is nearing his prime.
When push comes to shove, you may be better off blindly choosing between these two outstanding players. It is pretty much like throwing darts at a wall or playing eeny meeny mino mo. But if forced to choose, despite Ellsbury’s much higher batting average, I would still take Granderson in the present, unless I was in desperate need of a leadoff guy. But if I spend more time looking at the numbers on these two guys, I may change my decision.
So I take Granderson in the current centerfielder battle royale. In the future though, who really knows?
I do know that your respective team would probably be happy with either star. Who would you take though?
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.