A few weeks after the Yankees won their 27th championship, Curtis Granderson arrived from Detroit and projections were for him to be a center fielder with 30 home runs.
There was no reason to not expect it.
He hit that many playing half of his games in a pitcher-friendly park in Detroit and combined with a lefty-friendly right field porch at Yankee Stadium, there seemed little doubt Granderson would hit more than 10 home runs here.
Numbers often do not tell the whole story and the most home runs by Granderson at any professional level were achieved with a flawed swing.
The combination of struggling to get timing back from a DL stint and the poor mechanics, Granderson was hitting .245 a month ago, a figure that dropped to .240 through August 9. That was when Granderson went 0-for-4, a game noted for a key strikeout against Red Sox lefty Jon Lester.
Two days later in Texas, Granderson had a significant meeting with hitting coach Kevin Long for a tutorial on generating better swings. Before Long mentioned the flaw, Granderson never gave it much thought.
"I didn’t realize that was the case because I never thought about it," Granderson said. "As we started to do it more and practice the drill with two hands and started to feel more and more uncomfortable it made me realize how out of whack I was with taking one hand off the bat prior to."
Yesterday after entering for Nick Swisher (stiff left knee) in the first inning, Granderson used the new technique to hit an inside fastball from Jerry Blevins down the right field line in the sixth. With two outs in the seventh, Granderson sent an inside changeup from Michael Wuertz over the right field wall.
"The good thing is it helps me realize when I made bad swings," Granderson said. "What I mean by bad swings is when I’m out in front of the ball. One of the things was taking my top hand off the bat was everything was out front. I can get away with it as long as everything is lined up right."
"The good thing about keeping both hands on the bat is it lets the ball travel a bit more and more consistent on all pitches in the zone.
The results of that meeting have seen significant improvement against lefties and overall. Granderson is now batting .417 (10-for-24) off lefties since unveiling the new technique and equally important is that what he has done overall.
On the first night of the new swing, Granderson went 2-for-3 that night in Kansas City and has batted .287 (21-for-73) with seven home runs and 12 RBI. That has increased his home run and RBI projections from 14 and 47 to 21 and 54.
"There seems to be less movement before his swings," manager Joe Girardi said. "He has quieted down his swing. He has his hands in the launch position right from the beginning and he’s spread out a little bit. He has hit lefties and righties – it doesn’t really matter.
"We don’t see him swinging and missing as much. I just think he’s in a better position to hit."
Now he has helped the Yankees get in better position to win and just like A.J. Burnett repeating his mechanics, it is all about repetition.
"I can’t say more or less comfortable with what we’ve been working on and being able to translate it from hitting in the cage on to the field," Granderson said. "It comes down to still just drilling and drilling."