AFL Review: Brett Gardner

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Brett Gardnergardner-profile3.gif
Pos: CF
Bats: Left Throws: Left
Age, DOB: 24, 8/24/1983

AFL Stats: AVG 343 OBP 433 SLG 380

Background: The book on Gardner would have you believe that he’s a one dimensional slap-hitter that needs to outrun ground balls in order to get on base. That is simply not the case. According to Firstinning, he bunted in only 2% of his AAA appearances last season and his line drive rate was 18%. However, one area he needs to improve is being more aggressive early in the count. In the past, it seemed like his first objective was to draw a walk and if he got two strikes against him he would fight pitches off and hope that he gets another good pitch to hit. So his main goal heading into the AFL was to become a more aggressive hitter by looking for his pitch earlier in the count. This was very important for him to learn because most pitchers at the major league level will make him earn his way on base.

Offense: Gardner is the type of player that won’t blow you away with his stats but when you watch him on a daily basis he can look like one of the most dominant players on the field. During his time in the AFL he not only turned heads with the fans, he also had his own teammates taking notice. There were a couple times that he beat out routine GB’s to the second baseman simply because they couldn’t make the transfer in time. However, his potential is much more than just his speed. He hits line drives consistently and usually drives the ball straight up the middle, which limits his XBH totals, but it’s more than enough to keep the wheels turning with runners on base. The best way to describe his hitting style would be to call him a slasher. He will never be part of the new breed of leadoff hitters but he’s a hard nosed player that knows how to get the most out of his abilities. He’s already displayed many of the key attributes of a good leadoff hitter and he has the potential to be exactly what the Yankees need at the top of their lineup.

gardner-cf.gifDefense: Gardner has been an outstanding fielder throughout his career and currently holds a fielding percentage of .994. One of the lesser known facts about Gardner is that he played his first two years in pro ball (including 2006 AFL) before committing his first error with the Trenton Thunder during the 2007 season. He has excellent range and tracks the ball extremely well with his back to the infield. His arm strength is slightly above average for a center fielder and his accuracy allows him to pickup the occasional outfield assist.

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  • steve

    im really excited about this kid and hopefully we get to see him next year big leagues. if thats possible some how

  • Mitchell’s Eleven

    I like him. I like everything I hear. I don’t understand where his ceiling is any higher than Melky’s, though. From this description of his arm, it sounds like he’s a step back from Melky defensively. Maybe someone who’s not of the “Melky’s Just A Damn Fourth Outfielder” contingent can offer an explanation as to where he’s potentially a better option….

    ….or will it all not matter when Torii Hunter’s over-30 self is patrolling centerfield?

    • JP

      He’s arm isn’t in the same class as Melky but his range more than makes up for it. His potential might not be much better than Melky but I think he would be perfectly suited for the Yankees. The Yankees have a bunch of players that can hit for a decent average and chip in with HR’s but they haven’t had anyone with BG’s abilities in a long time. The last guy that would even be remotely close would be Homer Bush but that would really be selling BG short. He would give the Yankees a whole new dynamic that other teams haven’t needed to worry about for a long time

  • daneptizl

    Well, Gardner is different because he’s had a better track record in the minors. He’s consistently shown to hit for both average and OBP, while Cabrera wasn’t in either until he has a breakout performance in ’06. Also, I think Melky’s arm is offset by Gardner’s range because I’ve seen a few times where Melky should have caught the ball, but simply couldn’t make the play, whereas Gardner would have made most if not all of the putouts. Gardner meanwhile, can run on the bases and drop a bunt when necessary, both things that we all know Cabrera can’t do well.

    • Mitchell’s Eleven

      fair comparison. thanks.

  • KD

    the way i look at him, he’s like a pesky Juan Pierre type, but with a better arm and much better OBP.

    Seems to me that a player like Gardner on an aggressive Girardi team is a great fit. forgive me for being obvious, but he just needs to continue to develop.

    • JP

      That’s probably a good comparison – but I think Gardner is a little bit faster and plays better D. I think the Yankees will wait for BG to prove his AFL numbers through a few months of AAA. It would be really hard for him to bump Melky unless things aren’t clicking and they need more speed at the top of the lineup.

  • IE

    Melky has a higher ceiling than Gardner. Remember, Melky will be 23 next year and a three year ML vet. Gardner is already 24 and has never played in the major leagues. Melky also has more power potential. Let’s also not forget that Austin Jackson is probably the best prospect the Yanks have in CF. Jackson will be 21 next season, plays a smooth CF, hits for power, steals bases and has clear All-Star potential. In any event, I believe Gardner can be a really useful player for the Yanks – although he probably needs to play everyday at the AAA level at least for another half season.

  • dan

    Juan Pierre + walks = Reggie Willits. I don’t think that’s Gardner’s best comp. I personally think Chone Figgins is what Gardner will become, and I’d take Figgins on my team over Melky in a second. A .300/.400/.400 line and a whole bunch of steals is in his future.

    • JP

      I’m not so sure about the Figgins comp. They’re different hitters. As a hitter he’s more like Willits but he has Figgins speed.. or even a grade above.

  • barry

    i love melky but there will be more room in the outfield soon enough.

  • Brian

    Let’s say Gardner and A-Jax are playing on the Yanks in three years and Melky’s not on the team. Does A-Jax have enough power to play right if Gardner managed to be an offensive force and, thus, become the everyday centerfielder?

    • Mike R.

      In your scenario you are not counting on Tabata. If he fulfills his potential his potential he should be cemented in RF by then. Options would be:

      If Gardner sticks:

      LF – A-Jax
      CF – Gardner
      RF – Tabata

      If Melky develops:

      LF – Melky
      CF – A-Jax
      RF – Tabata

      Jackson looks like he could develop enough power to merit a corner OF spot, but I think it would be a waste of talent.

    • KD

      ideally, i think you’d see Tabata in RF, Gardner in CF, and AJax in LF if you were to have all 3 of them in the OF at once. I dont forsee that happening, though.

  • Bart

    Be aggressive – with ARod and Posada locked up
    Trade Melky now at the top of his potential
    –move Gardner and Jackson along neither will benefit greatly from more minor time
    — their defensive skills and baseruning are MLB plus now
    — hide them in the lineup as done with Cano and Melky and they will develop fine — more AAA/AA time wil not help determine that.

    Not that we don’t love Melky, but he has a MLB GM following and will bring more — a stud P along with one of the either IPK or Hughes. Or more prospects
    — Damon and Matsui are adequate in the OF for 2 years and better hitters than Melky, if one goes down Jackson or Garner can fill in

    Timing — unless there is a wild card deal for a stud pitcher Melky alone for prospects is OK
    — those prospects can help with a deal later in the year for Sanatana, and next year maybe to steal Texeria, and a C replacement for Posada as he ages.

  • Bart

    Why IPK or Hughes – for proven pitchiing only the dreams of teams are ruined because too many bad things go awry with can’t miss young prospects. The are both RH — we need lefties, wil always need lefties

  • Phil

    I’ve seen him do some great things for Columbus, but he couldn’t even crack a .400 SLG in the AFL. It’s tough to avoid having a .400+ SLG in the AFL, so I don’t know quite how to project Gardner. With his speed, he should at least be getting lots of doubles. Granted if he hits everything up the middle it’s tough to get those doubles, but something’s got to change before he can win a spot in the bigs.

  • Phil


    Handedness is extremely overrated.

  • Chofo

    The best value that Gardner brings to the team righy now is the ability to trade Melky without loosing too much. He could be in the LF-CF mix next year with Matsui and Damon. In two years, both veterans will be gone and it will be the A-Jax / Tabata show

  • JCP

    Dude had a .674 OPS in AAA last year…. forgive my hesitating to bubble over with enthusiasm, and yes I know he’s otherworldly fast….

  • JCP

    and all the A-Jax hype is based on half a season in A-ball… it’s foolish to count on any of these guys in the long term… is there a chance they’ll develop? of course. how likely is it that A-Jax actually ends up an all-star? not very likely.

    I can’t help but wonder what sort of gushing would’ve gone on amongst the Yankee cognoscenti about this guy were this 1995…

    methinks we Yankee message board frequenters would’ve already put him in Cooperstown…. he did what A-Jax did at the same age in AAA (!)