Pinstripe Preview: Brett Gardner
Looking back to 2010, when Gardner first became a regular in the outfield, he has been the epitome of solid. Nothing great, but just someone the Yankees can depend on as a good top of the lineup hitter, with a solid amount of walks, a good on base percentage, and an occasional bit of power. In the last four seasons, he is averaging 148 games played, a .262 average, a .341 on base percentage, and 62 walks, along with about 20 steals per season. For a leadoff hitter, what more could you ask for? Gardner consistently gets on base, and gives the Yankees what they need in order to win games.
Last season was a weird year for Gardner. He was essentially the exact same player he was in 2014 and 2015, except the power he had shown in those two seasons (17 homers in ’14, 16 in ’15) all went away. Gardy hit just seven homers in 2016, but the rest of his numbers were right on par with his career statistics. His slash line in 2016, .261/.351/.362, matched up pretty well with his career line of .264/.346/.388. What made this season standout for Gardner was the fact that he won his first career Gold Glove, and it was rightfully earned. He’s the type of player that is not going to wow you with anything, but he does pretty much everything right, and occasionally will pull off a game saving catch like this one against the Blue Jays on September 6:
That game in general was probably one of the best of the entire season, but that catch was the cherry on top. Overall though, Gardner’s 2016 season went right along with his other seasons; just a good, solid season. Not too great, but not too bad.
In 2017, we will probably see more of the same from Gardner. Joe Girardi has hinted that the Yankees want to break up the duo of Gardy and Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the lineup, and I am perfectly okay with this as long as Ellsbury is moved down in the lineup. Gardner should remain the team’s leadoff hitter, since he is the better player between the two of them. There’s a reason that Ellsbury and Gardner were flipped in the lineup around halfway through last season. However, 2017 will be Gardner’s age 34 season. It’s hard to believe that he is one of the oldest players on the Yankees now, but those are the facts. If he was to decline a little, that wouldn’t be surprising. My guess is that decline has already begun, which is why his power was so low last year. He also might lose some playing time if younger players like Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks, and Tyler Austin all force their way into the lineup, which could be a plus for him. Gardner could use the rest. In general though, Gardner should continue to be a solid contributor for the Yankees in 2017.
Article by: Alex WeirFollow @waelierx