The New York Mets signed outfielder Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million deal in the offseason, making him the biggest contract the Mets had shelled out to a free agent since the ill-fated Jason Bay signing. The deal was also the largest, by far, given out by general manager Sandy Alderson during his three-plus years on the job and was supposed to serve as proof that the Mets weren’t as financially stressed as many made them out to be.
However, only 20 games into his Mets tenure, Granderson has already started to conjure up nightmarish memories of Bay and his transformation from All-Star outfielder to bench warmer in the blink of an eye. While it’s unfair to judge a player based on such a small sample size, many Met fans have PTSD from watching Bay fall off the proverbial cliff only a year into his Mets’ tenure.
Bay’s decline was attributed to a concussion he suffered after slamming into the wall at Dodgers Stadium, as he was never the same player after that incident. Granderson’s troubled start is a bit more puzzling as he seems to be healthy, despite running into the wall himself against the Arizona Diamondbacks a week ago. Granted, players all over the league take varied amounts of time to acclimate themselves, but Granderson hasn’t just been bad; he’s been nearly historically bad.
Among regular players, only David Freese currently possesses a lower OPS than Granderson’s .442. Granderson is currently 0 for his last 22, which sets a new career-worst for consecutive hitless ABs and has looked completely lost at the plate against lefties and righties alike. He was imported for his power and spent the first 16 games of the season in the cleanup spot of the batting order, but Granderson has only one home run and five RBI. Many will point to the short porch in Yankee Stadium aiding a good deal of Granderson’s home runs, but he hasn’t even hit the ball hard enough to give that discussion merit.
Granderson has always been a player with a high strikeout total, but he usually balanced it out with his home runs. This year, he has struck out in 21 of his 64 ABs compared to a meager eight hits. On Apr. 23, he’s registered, count ’em, five extra-base hits, although he sadly leads the team in doubles.
Manager Terry Collins moved Granderson from the fourth spot in the order up to second, figuring he’d see some hittable pitches batting in front of David Wright, but that has not solved Granderson’s woes. The other night, in perhaps the greatest indicator of just how much he’s slumping, the Braves walked Eric Young, Jr. intentionally to pitch to Granderson even though there was a right-handed pitcher on the mound.
While it’s a bit early to expect Granderson to hit below .200 with limited power all season, his “performance” has certainly sent up some notable red flags. The Mets are stuck with him for the next four seasons, so they better hope this first month is more of an aberration than it is the norm. In the meantime, Met fans everywhere are adjusting their television screens to make sure that’s not actually Jason Bay wearing No. 3 out in right field.