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How Curtis Granderson became the Mets' $60 million leadoff hitter

How the former power-hitting Yankee became the Mets' table setter

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets signed Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million deal before the 2014 season and expected him to be a middle of the lineup bat to pair with Lucas Duda, David Wright, and Travis d'Arnaud to form a strong core in support of the team's young pitching stars.

What the Mets got instead was an excellent leadoff hitter who's helped make the team a surprising playoff contender, even if it took a season of growing pains to get to that point.

Granderson bounced around the lineup in 2014, spending at least 16 games in each of the leadoff, second, fourth, fifth, and sixth spots in the order. He finished the season with a .227 average, a .714 OPS, 20 home runs, and 79 walks, while the Mets finished below .500 for the sixth-straight season.

This season, with 12 games still to play, Granderson has already surpassed last year's home run (23) and walk (88) totals. He's also raised his batting average to .257 and his OPS to .814. The 88 walks, currently tied for fourth in the National League, is already a personal best, and if his on-base percentage doesn't drop from its current .366 mark, it would also be a new career high. Perhaps Granderson is more comfortable with a consistent lineup spot; of the 135 games he's started, he's been the leadoff hitter 129 times.

Before the mid-summer offensive resurgence led by Yoenis Cespedes, Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, and even Wilmer Flores, Granderson, out of the leadoff spot, carried the Mets' offense for much of the first half of the season. Eight Mets currently have 240 or more plate appearances with the team this season; among that group, Granderson is first or second in runs, hits, triples, home runs, RBIs, steals, on-base percentage, slugging percentage. He's even been hit by more pitches than anyone else.

Granderson may not return to being the powerhouse he was on the Yankees when he hit 41 and 43 home runs in 2011 and 2012, respectively, but if the Mets want someone to draw that big walk or take one for the team to kick-start a rally—or keep one going—they should look no further than the Grandy Man.