Despite the fact that he hits second in the New York Yankees' lineup, Curtis Granderson does not fit the stereotype. With a high number of strikeouts, relatively low batting average, tremendous power and the willingness to draw walks, Granderson profiles more as a middle-of-the-order power threat than a top-of-the-order table-setter, though he still steals a handful of bases each year. In fact, you could make an argument that Granderson has emerged as the best hitter in the Yankees' lineup.
What opposing teams seem to be overlooking, however, is the fact that Granderson has become an extreme pull hitter. Since the start of the 2011 season, Granderson has pulled 86 percent of grounders and short line drives, well above the league average of 72 percent. In fact, Granderson pulls more grounders and liners than the frequently shifted Brian McCann, Adam Dunn, Travis Hafner, David Ortiz, Josh Hamilton and Adrian Gonzalez.
A small handful of teams, most notably the division-rival Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, have picked up on this and have started shifting against Granderson -- and it's paying off. The Yankees center fielder is just 1-for-25 on grounders and short liners against the shift, according to numbers from Baseball Info Solutions. He has also yet to lay down a single bunt against a shifted defense.
Given the tremendous increase in the use of the shift defense this season, we're likely to see more teams implement shifts against Granderson. As he faces the shift more often, Granderson will be forced to try to adapt his hitting style to beat the shift or potentially lose a handful of base hits per season.
Here are four other heavy pull hitters who deserve the shift treatment: