Yankees

Hartnett: Granderson Key To Yankees’ Playoff Hopes

Granderson One Home Run Away From Equaling Feat Of Yankee Greats
Curtis Granderson (credit: Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

Curtis Granderson (credit: Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

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‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
» More Columns

As the Yankees push after a playoff place, Curtis Granderson’s bat is heating up.  The Yankees’ star center fielder has caught fire in his last six games, delivering 5 home runs and 11 RBIs.

On Saturday, Granderson homered off James Shields in the second inning to put the Yankees ahead 2-0.  Eduardo Nunez followed him in the order and combined with Granderson for back-to-back home runs.  The Yankees eventually won 5-3, but it was “The Grandy Man” who got the party started.

Previously, Granderson was a career .107 hitter against Shields.  It was the worst batting average of any major league batter who has faced a pitcher in at least 40 at-bats.

The Rays’ starter known as “Big Game James” always had the better of the Yankees’ center fielder, but lately it’s very difficult for any starting pitcher to come away unscathed against Granderson’s mighty stroke.

Granderson is only a single homer away from being the most recent Yankee since Jason Giambi to hit 40 home runs in consecutive seasons.  Mantle accomplished the feat in the 2003 and 2003 seasons.  Once he reaches the 40 home run mark, he will join an elite list that includes Giambi, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.

Granderson is on pace to finish the 2012 regular season with 44 home runs and 103 RBIs.  In a year where Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have missed significant time due to injury, Granderson and Robinson Cano have been the constant forces powering the Yankees’ lineup.

Still, many baseball analysts have pointed to Granderson as the symbol of the Yankees’ failures.  He’s batting just .234 and is on pace for a whopping 194 strikeouts.  It would be 25 more than the all-time single-season franchise record Granderson set last year.

Granderson certainly has his share of detractors, but it’s hard to imagine the Yankees currently being a game above the Baltimore Orioles to lead the American League East without his power bat.

He’s getting hot right when the Yankees need someone to carry their limping offense.  We all know the Yankees are dependent upon the longball and a rejuvenated Granderson will be crucial in ensuring the Yankees punch their playoff ticket.

Can Granderson keep up his hot streak and lead the Yankees to the playoffs?  Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.