“Granderson, first of all, is the artisan — the only consistent artisan — of the most exciting play in baseball, the triple.”

Curtis Granderson will be an All-Star in 2009.

There — at least THAT’S out of the way.

May as well declare it now. No sense waiting till spring training, much less Opening Day. Put him on the ballot or don’t; one way or another, Grandy will be on the American League team. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, who will select the AL reserves, will have no choice in the matter. Granderson’s numbers will be too good to pass up.

I know — file this under the “Tell me something I DON’T know” category. My telling you that Granderson, the Tigers’ centerfielder, will be an AL All-Star this season is hardly earth-shattering news. It may not even be Detroit-shattering. But I wanted to be the first one to confirm it, some three months before they throw the first pitch that matters.

Granderson, first of all, is the artisan — the only consistent artisan — of the most exciting play in baseball, the triple. Getting a runner into scoring position is nice. But Granderson gets himself 90 feet away from home plate, and that is even better.

Yeah, he can go get it, too

He’s not Mr. Base Stealer, as you would hope for from a leadoff hitter. But why bother with a single and a stolen base, when you can cut through all that red tape and land yourself on third base with one swing of the bat?

There’s the defense, the just-right home run power. I don’t have to tell you.

But I bring this up because it’s amazing, to me, that Granderson has found himself on the outside looking in since 2006 when it comes to the All-Star team. His selection in 2009 will be his first. Hard to believe, but it’s true. Of course, the flip side is that it will hardly be his only one; look for consistent appearances from no. 28.

If there was an All-Star team based on accessibility, niceness, and overall goodwill, Granderson would be perennial. He’s one of the few players whose stellar play struggles to match his stellar persona. Usually it’s the other way around.

I just hope that the baseball fans in Detroit realize and appreciate what they have in centerfield. That piece of real estate should be Curtis Granderson’s, and his alone, for the next ten years. All-Star games and everything!