Curtis Granderson will be turning 37 this March and is coming off a year where he hit for a career low .212 AVG. I actually began writing this piece as an argument to have Kevin Pillar hitting lead-off for the Blue Jays to begin the 2017 season. With Devon Travis‘ injury concerns and Ezequiel Carrera appearing as if he’ll be Toronto’s 5th outfielder, I figured Pillar was the best option to be hitting in the lead-off spot.
I may have figured wrong however. Because not only is Granderson currently listed as Toronto’s number one option in left field on their depth chart, he’s also hit lead-off in 878 of his 1,796 career games and may very well be the front runner to be hitting lead-off for the Blue Jays come Opening Day.
Granderson may not run like he used to, but on a team with several of the slowest players in all of baseball, he’ll look like a cheetah in comparison. All kidding aside, even at his advanced age, Granderson should still be more than fast enough to hit at the top of the order. He also does a good job of getting on base, and looking at his career numbers, has always responded well when hitting lead-off.
Throughout his career, when hitting in the lead-off spot, Granderson has an impressive 152 HR and slash line of .259/.340/.470. Even last year, when he had that awful .212 AVG, what can’t be forgotten is that when hitting 1st in the order (something he did in 163 PA), his slash line was a far more respectable .239/.331/.542.
Not only does Granderson appear to be Toronto’s best option to be hitting lead-off at the moment, but with him being a superior defender to either Pearce or Carrera, it wouldn’t be too far off the mark to assume he’ll start the majority of games in left field. It’s asking a lot of anyone to hit lead-off, especially a 37-year old. But certain players excel with the added responsibility of hitting 1st in the order, and Granderson has shown over the course of his career to be the kind of player that thrives in such a key role.