Last year was simply unforgettable. He led the league in triples and RBI's which put him amongst the best in Major League Baseball. One of the top leading candidates for most valuable player in the American League. Curtis Granderson's path to success is soaring and he's picking up right where he left off.
Excellent both at the plate and in center field, Granderson is back in the race for MVP. His stats speak loudly and there's still a lot of baseball left to be played. He's already at 15 home runs and is the fastest New York Yankee to reach double-digits in homers at home in franchise history.
"I want to prove people wrong," he explained. "This is one of those games where you see the best players being criticized. For example, Albert Pujols' slow start this season and people had the nerve to say he'll never hit a home run again. That's insane but that motivates me to be better."
It's a dream to play for a franchise that's won championships throughout a decade. But there's a new group of rising stars and they're combined with some unforgettable names. So, how does a kid from the south side of Chicago lead a team like the Yankees in home runs and we know little about him?
"I think playing baseball in general is a surprise as to how well you get better," said Curtis. "I never thought I'd be here at this point in my life, playing a game I love. I planned to have a normal job and just play baseball as long as I could with no high expectations."
He joined the Yankees in 2010 and played for the Detroit Tigers from 2004-2009. A left-handed batter who throws right, Granderson is a two-time all-star and won the Silver Slugger Award in 2011. At the prime age of 31, he's just getting started. He maintains his position in the top five leading hitters in the league and sees no reason to slow down.
New York has always produced talent and in doing so they have the hardware dating back to the 1920's. But it's more than just a winning team, it's the chosen few who can tell a story through their game and personality.
Some of the most memorable players like Babe Ruth, Joe Dimaggio, Micki Mantle, Reggie Jackson and current player Derek Jeter are a few to name who have been apart of a dynasty. They lead their team to multiple championships.
"Watching guys growing up like Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, there was always something they couldn't do. They got better everyday, so whether I stand out or not your opponents know who the best players in baseball are."
Nicknamed the "Bronx Bombers" on any night the entire roster could blast a home run. But the regulars who are Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano keep a good pace behind Curtis.
"I don't set statistical goals but more average goals," Granderson said. "Home runs just happen but I'd like to increase my average in base stealing and strikeout to walk ratio."
Although, he's not concerned with the accolades, Curtis enjoys the game he grew up loving and wants to be the best. He finished last season with 41 home runs, 119 RBI's and a batting average of .261. If he played in the NBA he'd have commericals and a sneaker contract by now.
But in the world of baseball, it's much more complicated to be considered the best. It takes time and I believe within the next few years Granderson will be a household name. His agility on the field and motivation to play with guys who exude greatness is rubbing off.
The Morning Email helps you start your workday with everything you need to know: breaking news, entertainment and a dash of fun. Learn more