Posted By Jeff Fletcher on August 24, 2011 7:34 pm
Watching the Yankees play the A’s, and I’ve been thinking about something that hit me a few days ago: the Yankees are overachieving. Really.
It sounds weird to say that about a team with a $743 billion payroll (give or take), but when you think about it, on paper they really looked like they had some question marks. CC Sabathia is the only starter who you could count on when the season began. Teixeira and Cano are the only everyday players who are really premium players in their prime. (You can quibble whether Swisher is a premium player.)
Then there’s Curtis Granderson, who is having an MVP caliber season. Now, you would think that shouldn’t be a huge surprise because Granderson has always been pretty good, and he’s still not that old.
But he has never been this good. And he’s not that young either. He’s 30.
My theory going in was that it was probably pretty rare for a guy to improve from what Granderson was at age 29 to what he is at age 30.
So, using baseball-reference, I first rounded up all the players who had an OPS+ of 100 to 115 in a full season (502 PAs) at age 29. Granderson had a 109 last year. Here’s that list.
Now, I took all those players and sorted them by OPS+ in their 30-year-old season.
If you look at that, you see that Granderson, whose current OPS+ is 154, and Cal Ripken (162) are the only players to be over 150. Another four players were over 140. Everyone else was under 140.
This is interesting too. Of the 304 players who have had a single 150 or better OPS+ season, only 36 of them had their first in their 30s. Granderson would be the 37th. A large portion of the other guys on that list need asterisks, if you know what I mean. I’m not suggesting anything about Granderson. Just that it’s weird he’s done what he’s done.