The wait is almost over for the New York Yankees as the return of their injured superstars begins this week with Curtis Granderson. Even the most optimistic Bombers fan couldn’t have expected the season to have started this well. At 23-14, New York is leading the American League East and is just one game off the pace for the league’s top record. New York has managed to stay afloat with $92 million worth of star power on their disabled list. Fantasy baseball owners may be more desperate for Granderson’s service than the Yankees who already rank in the upper-echelon in scoring.
Granderson has shown no signs of rust during his rehab stint at triple-a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Seven hits in 17 at-bats (.412) have Granderson set to rejoin the club as soon as Tuesday in Seattle. Granderson has been one of the most versatile and prolific offensive threats in baseball since joining New York in 2010. In each of his last two seasons, he’s surpassed 100 runs, 40 homers, 100 RBIs and 10 steals. With 125 games left on the schedule, it’s unlikely that Granderson can match those totals but a proportionate amount should be expected. His bat will be welcomed into the top half of the Yankee lineup with open arms.
The production by the New York lineup has been more consistent than their ambiguous batting order. Whereas consistency is usually the objective of Yankee lineups, variety has been the essence in 2013. Star second baseman Robinson Cano hasn’t even been anchored to a particular spot in the order, bouncing between the two and three holes.
Granderson will likely return as the everyday centerfielder with Brett Gardner shifting over to left and Ichiro stabilizing in right. He sank to the bottom of a potent Yankee offense during his late season struggles in 2012 but Granderson’s bat will likely be called upon in the top third of the lineup.
A decimated depth chart now begins to get a little bit more crowded. Manager Joe Girardi will play Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner in the designated hitter role based on matchups with Granderson getting the occasional day off versus lefties. If the Yankees are inclined to keep both bats in the lineup, they can try Hafner’s hand at first base where has hasn’t started since 2007.
The return of Granderson should add stability to the Yankee lineup and give them the boost that they need to stay in first place. Fantasy owners should play Granderson regularly upon his return and expect top-15 outfield production from here on.