Early life and education
Curtis Granderson, Jr. (born March 16, 1981) is an American professional baseball player. An outfielder, he plays for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball (MLB). Before joining the Yankees in 2010, he played for, and was drafted by, the Detroit Tigers (2004–2009). Granderson is a left-handed batter who throws right-handed. He is a three-time MLB All-Star (2009, 2011–2012) and won the Silver Slugger Award in 2011.
Off the field, Granderson is recognized for his commitment to the community through outreach and charity work. Many of his charitable endeavors support inner city children. He has also served as an ambassador for MLB abroad. Granderson won the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award in 2009 for his on-field performance and contributions in the community.
Minor leagues (2002–2005)
The Detroit Tigers selected Granderson in the third round of the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft. The Tigers assigned Granderson to the Oneonta Tigers, their minor league baseball affiliate in Class-A. With Oneonta, Granderson batted .344 in 52 games. Determined to complete his college education, though the fall semester began before the minor league season ended, Granderson made arrangements to begin his senior year at UIC via internet courses.
The Tigers assigned Granderson to the Class-A Advanced Lakeland Tigers in 2003 and the Class-AA Erie Seawolves in 2004. With the Seawolves, Granderson hit .303 with 21 home runs and 93 RBI. Baseball America named Granderson the Tigers' minor league player of the year and top prospect after the 2004 season.
Prior to the 2005 season, Baseball America rated Granderson as the 57th best prospect in baseball. Granderson competed for the role as the Tigers' starting center fielder in 2005 spring training, but the organization decided he needed more seasoning, and assigned him to the Class-AAA Toledo Mud Hens. With Toledo, he hit .290 with 15 home runs, 65 RBIs and 22 stolen bases.
Detroit Tigers (2004–2009)
The Tigers promoted Granderson to the majors for the first time in September 2004. He made his major league debut on September 13 against the Minnesota Twins. He received his second promotion to the majors in July 2005, and he appeared in six games. After his third promotion to the majors, in August, he remained in the majors permanently. Granderson had his first career inside-the-park home run on September 15, a five-hit game September 18 and a walk-off home run on September 26 against the Chicago White Sox.
Granderson became the Tigers starting center fielder for the 2006 season after beating out Nook Logan for the position during spring training. From the start of his major league career in 2004, Granderson began a 151 game errorless streak, the longest by a position player to start his career since Dave Roberts went errorless in 205 games. Granderson hit two home runs during the 2006 American League Division Series and one in the 2006 American League Championship Series, but struggled in the 2006 World Series, batting .095, as the Cardinals defeated the Tigers.
New York Yankees (2010–present)
After the 2009 season, the Tigers began shopping Granderson to other franchises in an effort to reduce their payroll. The Yankees acquired Granderson in a three-team trade on December 9. In the deal, the Yankees received Granderson while sending Phil Coke and centerfielder Austin Jackson to Detroit. Also, the Arizona Diamondbacks received Yankees pitcher Ian Kennedy and Tigers pitcher Edwin Jackson in return for young pitchers Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth, who joined the Tigers.
Granderson hit 41 home runs in 2011.
Granderson hit a home run in his first Yankee at bat on April 4, 2010, becoming the twelfth player to do so. Although he missed some games due to a strained groin, Granderson finished the season with 136 games played, a .247 batting average, and 24 home runs. Granderson, who struggled against left-handed pitching throughout his career, also put up subpar numbers against right-handed pitchers, causing Granderson to revamp his swing with the help of hitting coach Kevin Long in August 2010.
Granderson's work with Long was credited as a reason for his strong 2011 campaign. Granderson received over 6.6 million votes for the 2011 MLB All-Star Game. In August 2011, Granderson and Mark Teixeira became the first Yankees teammates to hit 30 home runs in 115 games since Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle in 1961. On August 10, Granderson hit two home runs against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to tally a career-high 31 home runs. Granderson, Robinson Canó, and Russell Martin all hit grand slams in a game against the Oakland Athletics on August 25, the first time a team had three grand slams in one game. Granderson was named American League Player of the Month for August 2011, in which he batted .286, with a .423 on base percentage, slugged .657, hit ten home runs, recorded 29 RBI, and scored 29 runs. He became the first player to hit 40 home runs, 10 triples and steal 25 bases in one season. Granderson finished fourth in balloting for the American League Most Valuable Player Award.
On May 6, 2012, Curtis achieved his 1,000th hit against the Kansas City Royals. On August 26, 2012, Granderson hit his 200th career home run against the Cleveland Indians. He finished the 2012 season with a .232 batting average, 43 home runs, 106 RBI, and set a new Yankees season record by striking out 195 times.
On October 19, the Yankees exercised Granderson's club option for 2013. Originally worth $13 million, it became a $15 million option after placing 4th in the MVP voting in 2011. In his spring training debut against the Toronto Blue Jays on February 24, 2013, Granderson was hit by a pitch from J. A. Happ that fractured his right forearm. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list to begin the 2013 season. He returned to the Yankees on May 14. On May 18, 2013, Granderson made his first start at right field. May 24, 2013, Granderson broke the knuckle of his left pinkie finger after getting hit by Tampa Bay's Cesar Ramos' pitch in the 5th inning. He was again placed on the 15-day disabled list. On May 29, 2013, Granderson underwent surgery in which a pin was inserted to the knuckle to stabilize the fracture. On August 2, 2013, Granderson was activated from the disabled list.