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Tigers on Granderson: It's not a surprise

Posted on: August 11, 2011 8:22 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 8:35 pm
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CLEVELAND -- The Tigers watched on their clubhouse television as Curtis Granderson hit yet another home run for the Yankees.

"He's the best player they have right now," Magglio Ordonez said.

He might well be right.

According to research through baseball-reference.com, Granderson is the first Yankee ever with 30-plus home runs, nine or more triples, 20-plus stolen bases and 100-plus runs scored in the same season. He leads the major leagues with 93 RBI, and his 32 home runs are just one behind major-league leader Jose Bautista.

"It's not a surprise," Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon said, pointing out that from 2007-09, Granderson tied David Ortiz for the most extra-base hits in the American League.

Tigers people speak about Granderson without surprise, and without regret, even though the three-team trade that sent him to the Yankees and sent Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer and others to the Tigers doesn't look nearly as favorable for Detroit as it did a year ago.

"He's having a monster year, an MVP year," manager Jim Leyland said. "It couldn't happen to a better guy."

While Granderson has already exceeded his career high in home runs, Tigers people rightly point out that the change in home ballparks is a big factor. Twenty of Granderson's 30 home runs in 2009 were hit on the road, and he had just 10 at Comerica Park. This year, 18 of his 32 home runs have been hit at Yankee Stadium.

"That place is made for him," Leyland said. "He's got lightning in that bat."

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While no Yankee before Granderson has had 30-plus home runs, nine or more triples, 20-plus steals and 100-plus runs, that combination isn't unheard of in baseball. Carlos Gonzalez had it for the Rockies last year, and Troy Tulowitzki did it for Colorado a year before that.

Both Gonzalez and Tulowitzki finished with exactly nine triples. But even if you go to double-digit triples, assuming that Granderson will get at least one more, you only need to go back to Jimmy Rollins' 2007 season with the Phillies.

Granderson and Rollins are already two of only four players in baseball history to have 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs and 20 steals in the same season. Both did it in 2007. The other two to do it were Willie Mays, in 1957, and Frank Schulte, in 1911.

*****

Here's a question I don't have the answer to:

Granderson batted eighth for the Yankees on opening day. What's the most home runs ever for a guy who batted eighth on opening day?
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