MIAMI -- The most difficult part of benching Curtis Granderson, Mets manager Terry Collins said recently, would be the professionalism with which Granderson would absorb the news. As recently as June 3, Granderson was batting .198. Collins was going to have to call Granderson into his office, tell him that
MIAMI -- The most difficult part of benching Curtis Granderson, Mets manager Terry Collins said recently, would be the professionalism with which Granderson would absorb the news. As recently as June 3, Granderson was batting .198. Collins was going to have to call Granderson into his office, tell him that he would no longer be a starting player, then watch the 14-year veteran accept his demotion with grace.
But that conversation never happened; a series of injuries to Michael Conforto extended Granderson's lease as a starter for another couple of weeks. Given that opportunity, Granderson has exploded from his season-opening slump, hitting his fifth home run in seven games Wednesday in the Mets' 8-0 win over the Marlins.
"I know a lot of people on the outside doubted things," Granderson said. "But it's funny. Whenever you get off to a hot start, no one goes ahead and says, 'Well, this person is going to continue batting .500 for the rest of the season.' But as soon as you get off to a slow start, everyone wants to know what's wrong. You've got to look and see that things end up evening themselves out over the course of the season."
Streaky throughout his career, Granderson has become even more so at age 36. Since hitting his June 3 low point with a .198/.275/.357 slash line, Granderson has hit .344/.468/.820 with eight of his 12 home runs. Five of those have come in his last seven games, including three to lead off the first inning. Batting first on a daily basis in place of Conforto, Granderson has overtaken both the Mets' franchise record for leadoff home runs (21) and the league-wide record for active players (45).
Since June 3, Granderson also leads the Majors in OPS, one of the few major offensive categories that Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger cannot call his own. According to Statcast™ data, he has nine hits of at least 100 mph in June, after amassing just 12 of those in April and May combined.
And there are still two days left in the month.
"I really think he's seeing the ball great right now," Collins said. "I'm not sure he did early. He has just such a steady makeup that nothing shakes him. He doesn't get rattled. He doesn't get frustrated. He may inside, but he doesn't let it outside. When he goes through a bad stretch, you wouldn't know the difference."
In addition to his two-run homer in the seventh inning Wednesday, Granderson added a nine-pitch walk in the first, setting up an Asdrubal Cabrera homer. He owns a seven-game hitting streak, and has reached base safely in each of his last 15 starts.
Should Granderson's success continue, Collins will again face a difficult decision once Conforto recovers from his badly bruised left hand. Conforto is an All-Star candidate, the Mets' best hitter in April and May. Jay Bruce is the Mets' most consistent power threat, one of 12 players in franchise history to amass 20 homers before the All-Star break. Yoenis Cespedes is Yoenis Cespedes.
One of them must sit every night.
Of course, the possibility looms that the Mets trade Bruce, Granderson or both, freeing up spots for the others to play every day. Just two weeks ago, it seemed unlikely that a contender would have much interest in Granderson, though that has changed in concert with his results.
"It's nothing extreme one way or the other, where I'm up there completely locked in or anything like that," Granderson said. "I still continue to battle pitch to pitch no matter who the opponent is, or what the situation happens to be."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.