Detroit Tigers Opening Day (Samantha Elliott/MJ)
Detroit Tigers Opening Day (Samantha Elliott/MJ)

BY RICKY LINDSAY, Staff Writer

Since 2009, the same question always manages to become magnified during a series against the Yankees; Granderson or Jackson?

Let’s go back to the winter of 2009 and review the trade for all three teams involved.

The Yankees acquired Curtis Granderson who became their centerpiece of the trade. The Tigers acquired Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson, and relievers Daniel Schlereth and Phil Coke. Scherzer and Jackson were the key players for them in the deal. Lastly, the Arizona Diamondbacks brought in starters Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy, but were involved in the trade to sweeten the deal for the Tigers.

Fans were furious that Dave Dombrowski traded away Granderson who was coming off a career year. Granderson was much more than a ballplayer; he was a class act, providing charity work to Detroit and the surrounding communities. It didn’t help the situation that he was a fan favorite.

At first, it looked like the Yankees won this deal by a landslide considering Detroit acquired average players with high potential. Even with all the players dealt, the trade all came down to Granderson and Jackson.

Jackson had a solid rookie season, batting .293 with 183 hits and 103 runs, but ranked in the top five in the MLB in strikeouts. He regressed in his second season due to a high amount of strikeouts, but still possessed the talent to become an All Star player and a true leadoff hitter for the Tigers.

Granderson, however, took his game to a new level offensively while wearing Yankee pinstripes. He hit 24 home runs in his injury laden 2010 season.

2011 was much kinder to Granderson, as he finished the season ranking in the top ten in the AL in home runs, triples, walks, total bases, runs scored, and strikeouts. He’s put up great numbers once again in 2012, earning his second All Star appearance with the Yankees, hitting .242 with 30 home runs and 66 RBI’s.

Jackson made his mark in centerfield for the Tigers in 2012. With a new batting stance that included a shorter stride and eliminating the leg kick, his potential finally became evident on the field.

Jackson is currently hitting .317 with ten homers, becoming the first true lead off threat for the Tigers since Granderson. Not only was Jackson an All Star snub due to an injury, but he’s being considered for several awards, including the American League’s breakout player of the year, the AL Gold Glove award, and even the AL MVP, although it’s a long shot.

Strikeouts were once Jackson’s problem, but are now hindering Granderson’s offensive success. Granderson is on pace this season to break the Yankee’s regular season strikeout record for a batter.

The trade is finally paying dividends to the Tigers in 2012. Jackson is 25 years old and is expected to reach his prime potential next season.

Scherzer, a piece overshadowed in the Granderson-Jackson talk, has averaged 10 plus wins and 160 strikeouts per season since putting on a Tigers uniform. Scherzer has become a strong number two starter behind ace Justin Verlander. Coke and Schlereth have provided depth in Detroit’s bullpen over the past three years.

Granderson has put up great numbers since being acquired by New York. The problem is that he’s 31, six years older than Jackson, and is now exiting the prime of his career.

Granderson benefits from playing in Yankee Stadium as a left handed batter, because of the short right field dimensions, a haven for power hitters. It’s likely that he wouldn’t produce the same numbers if he played anywhere else.

Granderson or Jackson? Here’s a deeper look.

Money was going to become a problem with Granderson, as he was owed $25.75 million on his contract, including $10 million this season and $13 million in 2013. You wouldn’t have seen Verlander’s contract extension or the signings of Victor Martinez and Prince Fielder if Granderson was still in Detroit.

It’s obvious in 2012 that the Tigers are the winners of this deal. Yes, Granderson is still a great player and a class act, but the Tigers have achieved two things with the trade. They became a younger, more talented team that will only become better with time.

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