The AL MVP Race: Granderson vs Gonzalez

Adrian Gonzalez and Curtis Granderson
Adrian Gonzalez and Curtis Granderson (both pictured) are competing for the AL MVP.

When it comes to the MVP race in the American League, all the talk has been about Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez.

Fenway Pahk has indeed served him well—he’s got a gaudy .343 average. But beyond that, his numbers are actually below that of another player in the AL East.

Curtis Granderson is having himself quite the season. While his average may be a measly .281, he has double digits in doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases. Only eight Yankees have ever done that and none since Snuffy Stirnweiss in 1945. (Now that’s a baseball player name!)

He’s also keeping pace with Toronto slugger Jose Bautista in the home run race. Granderson has 34 home runs to Bautista’s 35. Gonzalez isn’t even in their stratosphere when it comes to the long ball; he currently has 18. As for slugging percentage, Granderson has a .588 SLG while Gonzalez has a .542 SLG. By way of comparison, Bautista has a slugging percentage of .639.

Then there are some of the more traditional stats… you know, the ones all the so-called experts have told us to dump even though they all still use them to decide the MVP race. Granderson, who usually bats number two in the lineup, has 95 RBIs and 111 runs. In fact, Grandy should finish with more than 100 RBIs for the first time in his career. A-Gon has 92 RBIs and 81 runs.

They both have a great ability to hit for power and get on base. Both players have pretty similar stats for on-base percentage plus slugging percentage—Granderson has a .960 OPS and Gonzalez has a .950 OPS.

But Granderson has a component to his game that Gonzalez doesn’t: speed. He has 22 stolen bases while A-Gon has just one. Granderson is always a threat to steal when he gets on base and can easily score from first base on a well-hit ball.

In the end, the stat that everyone now tells you to ignore, average, will probably do Granderson in… that and the old pinstripe prejudice. That’ll be a pity because Granderson has been quite grand for the playoff-bound Yankees.

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