Grady Sizemore and Curtis Granderson are inextricably linked. Both reside in the American League Central, patrolling center field with aplomb while displaying the most diverse set of tools this side of Home Depot. While Sizemore deservedly sits near the top of any draft list that you’ll find, Granderson just does not seem to receive a proper level of admiration. Take this ESPN projection list, for instance. Grady garners first-place honors among center fielders, but Granderson ranks only ninth. While I’m not here to dissuade you from taking Sizemore first, I think it’s worth pointing out that Curtis comes equipped with many of the same virtues, and potentially at a bargain price. Let’s compare our two gifted fly-catchers.
Sizemore has posted OBP’s of .375, .390 and .374 over the past three seasons. A highly disciplined hitter (his career Outside-Swing% is 18.8%, compared to a league Avg. near 25%), Sizemore has drawn a free pass between 13-14% over the past two seasons.
Granderson is not quite as patient, but he still gets his fair share of base on balls. Granderson’s OBP’s from 2006-2008 are .335, .361 and .365. He worked a walk 11.4% of the time in 2008 (7.8% in ’07) while improving his O-Swing% from 23.4% in 2007 to 19.8% this past season.
Sizemore and Granderson have posted near identical Isolated Power figures during their respective big league careers, with Granderson (.214) ahead of Sizemore (.212) by the slightest of margins. Granderson held a big advantage in 2007, with a .250 ISO compared to Grady’s .185. However, Granderson’s number was due in part to an absolutely ridiculous twenty-three triples. With a more reasonable but still lofty 13 three-baggers in 2008, Curtis saw his ISO settle in at .213, while Grady smacked 33 bombs with a .233 ISO.
When I think of base stealing, I tend to think of doctors. Specifically, the Hippocratic Oath. Some wild, unrestrained runners would serve their teams well by swearing to “above all, do no harm.” A properly leveraged SB can be a very smart play, but the relative value of a stolen base isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be: according to numbers guru Tom Tango, a SB is worth approximately +.19 runs while a CS chops off a pernicious -.46 runs.
The break-even rate on a SB (that is, the point at which a player is no longer doing harm to his team) is about 67 percent, according to The Book. This might sound abstract, but it has fantasy baseball applications as well: a guy who racks up the SB’s might help you in one category, but if he’s stealing with the “success” rate of a Ryan Theriot (22 SB/13 CS in ’08), he’s costing you possible runs.
While some players compile huge SB totals while costing their club on the base paths, both Sizemore and Granderson have shown the ability to provide quantity and quality. Sizemore has been the consistent SB threat, swiping 22 bags in ’06 (78.6% success rate), 33 in ’07 (76.7%) and 38 in 2008 (88.4%).
Granderson was just about the most effective thief in the game in 2007, snagging 26 SB’s in 27 attempts (96.3%). He didn’t really use those wheels as much this past season, however, nabbing 12 bags in 16 attempts.
Sizemore: .286/.386/.503, 28 SB
Granderson: .276/.350/.474, 14 SB
Sizemore: .273/.357/.473 (no SB projections)
Sizemore: .269/.367/.493, 27 SB
Granderson: .266/.342/.467, 11 SB
Sizemore is very likely the superior player, but don’t forget about the guy holding court in Detroit, either. MVN’s Jeff Freels recently compiled a collection of ADP figures from the likes of CBS, ESPN and Yahoo which showed Sizemore with an ADP of 5. He’s worth that, to be sure. But Granderson? He rated 52nd. If you aren’t fortunate enough to snag the across-the-board production of a Sizemore or a Carlos Beltran, Granderson could be a steal in the 4th or 5th round of your draft, particularly if he turns it loose on the bases once again.
A recent graduate of Duquesne University, David Golebiewski is a contributing writer for Fangraphs, The Pittsburgh Sports Report and Baseball Analytics. His work for Inside Edge Scouting Services has appeared on ESPN.com and Yahoo.com, and he was a fantasy baseball columnist for Rotoworld from 2009-2010. He recently contributed an article on Mike Stanton's slugging to The Hardball Times Annual 2012. Contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out his work at Journalist For Hire.