Yankees: Curtis Granderson retires; a look at his legacy in pinstripes
By Matthew Orso
Former New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson announced his retirement on Friday. The 38-year old Illinois native spent 16 seasons in the majors, including four with the Bronx Bombers.
Curtis Granderson made his big league debut in September 2004 with the Detroit Tigers and played six seasons with them. He hit 30 homers and stole 20 bases during his final season in the Motor City in 2009. In December of that year, a three-team trade was struck between the Yankees, Tigers and Diamondbacks.
New York sent lefty reliever Phil Coke and young outfielder Austin Jackson to Detroit. They also dealt young right-handed starter Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks to procure Granderson.
The Yankees had just come off their 27th World Series title, and the addition of Granderson gave fans high hopes of a repeat in 2010. The “Grandy Man” set the tone right away in his first plate appearance as a Yankee, homering on Opening Day against Josh Beckett of Boston.
Overall, though, the 2010 campaign was a struggle for Granderson, who hit just .247 in 136 contests. The upside? He smacked 24 home runs on the year and finished the season strong. He slugged .638 with seven homers and 19 RBI in his final 16 games of the year, which gave fans, even more, hope for a better 2011 season.
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Grandy wouldn’t disappoint, despite getting off to a slow start. He hit .156 with just two homers and three RBIs in his first 10 games. But, then he went on a tear, hitting .315 with 12 homers and 28 RBI in his next 29 contests.
He finished the season with 41 home runs, 119 RBI and 136 runs scored. Granderson became the fifth player in franchise history to put up at least 41 homers, 119 RBI and 136 runs in a season, joining Babe Ruth (9x), Lou Gehrig (4x), Joe DiMaggio (1937) and Alex Rodriguez (2007). In other words, it was a historic season for the Yankee outfielder. Granderson made the American League All-Star team and finished fourth in AL MVP voting.
2012 was another solid year for Granderson. He hit 43 home runs and drove in 106 in 160 contests. His season was highlighted by a three-home run game against the Twins in mid-April.
Granderson became the sixth player in franchise history with multiple 40+ home run seasons, joining Babe Ruth (11x), Lou Gehrig (5x), Mickey Mantle (4x), Alex Rodriguez (2x) and Jason Giambi (2x). At the time, his 43 home runs were the most by a Yankees outfielder since Roger Maris (61) and Mickey Mantle (54) back in 1961 — more than 50 years before Granderson’s 2012 campaign.
It was easy to see over this two-year stretch that Granderson’s power had no limits. In fact, from 2011-12, Granderson’s 84 homers were the most in the major leagues. Think about this: The next closest players were Miguel Cabrera (74) and Ryan Braun (74). And yet they each trailed Granderson by 10 homers!
Unfortunately, 2013 marked Granderson’s fourth and final season in pinstripes. It was also a season marred by injury. Granderson played in just 61 games due to a broken right forearm. He signed with the Mets that offseason and never played another game in Yankee pinstripes. His 115 home runs and 307 RBI with the Yanks were his most for any big league team.
Granderson wasn’t just a great player with the Bombers — he was a great person. His Grand Kids Foundation has raised more than 35 million meals for needy families across the country. He’s spent countless hours working to give people a better future. That — more than anything shows how Granderson will be remembered during his time as a major leaguer.
Congratulations to Curtis Granderson on an amazing major-league career. Your legacy will live on in pinstripe lore for generations to come.