Baseball Prospectus just released what they call “The Ultimate Fantasy Draft.” Essentially they throw contract status out the window and rank the 50 players that teams should build around. Curtis Granderson earned a ranking of 16, right between Ryan Braun and Tim Lincecum (and two spots behind Miguel Cabrera).
Nate Silver had this to say in the Curtis blurb:
Somewhere around Webb or Braun, we really turned a corner into the next tier of talent. Granderson is just a superlative ballplayer, excelling in every phase of the game, and his work ethic is so strong that he could wind up getting even better.
Now what does this have to do with Matt Joyce? The Spot Starters recently looked at Granderson’s first extended opportunity at playing time, and Matt Joyce’s first extended opportunity. Both seasons occurred when the players were the same age (23). Here’s the kicker, Joyce’s debut has been more impressive than Granderson’s, and its not that close. Joyce hit for a slightly better average, substantially more power, gets on base better, is striking out less…
A pretty interesting and surprising comparison. It’s not a suggestion that Joyce follows the same development path and becomes an elite player, but the skill sets aren’t that different. Both are left handed. Both hit for power. Both walk at an acceptable rate. Both have some speed. Both strike out a little too much (though Granderson has since cut his down).
What separated the two going into their debut seasons was the minor league pedigree. Granderson worked his way up the ladder making progress with each stop and posting impressive seasons. Joyce had a nice debut in short season ball, but his follow up year was simply okay (753 OPS). And he struggled when promoted to AA the following year, nearly getting demoted before heating up.
One other similarity between the two. After their impressive debut seasons, Jim Leyland wasn’t willing to hand a starting spot to either of them going into the next season. Granderson had to “battle” Nook Logan for a spot in spring training. And Leyland would merely say that Joyce is in the mix. Hopefully the similarities continue.