The free-swingin’ Brett Gardner

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Brett Gardner follows through on an RBI triple during the ninth inning of a game against the Mets. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

As the Yankees gear up to enter the 2010 season with Brett Gardner as one of their left field options, a divergent opinion on Gardner’s ability has emerged among Yankee fans. As I wrote on Friday morning, Gardner is not, as many proclaim, the next Bubba Crosby. Yet, some see his approach to the plate as a sign that the slap-hitting lefty, despite a .388 minor league on-base percentage, won’t excel at the Major League level.

One comment, in particular, is representative of what many believe to be Gardner’s shortcomings. Said Dalelama, “Let me end the suspense—Gardner sucks. But takes the prettiest third strike down the middle of the plate. Nobody leaves the bat on the shoulder like Brett.”

So we ask a question about Brett Gardner: Does he strike out too often and does he look at too many pitchers? First, some numbers: In his first 425 plate appearances, Gardner has struck out 70 times and 28 of those are of the looking variety. In 2009, his first full year in the Majors, he struck out 40 times in 284 plate appearances and 12 — or 30 percent — of those were looking. For his career, Gardner has struck out in 16.5 percent of his plate appearances but just 14.1 percent in 2009.

Overall, Major Leaguers struck out in 17.5 percent their plate appearances in 2009 and in 16.9 percent of the time in 2008. For now, it seems, Brett Gardner is around average when it comes to strike outs. For comparison’s sake, Mark Teixeira struck out in 16.1 percent of his plate appearances but 43 of his 114 strike outs — or 37.7 percent — were looking. Teixeira is a different type of hitter than Gardner is, but the point is that we shouldn’t put too much emphasis on those strike outs, looking or swinging.

Of greater concern is Gardner’s approach at the plate. We want Brett Gardner to be swinging at strikes and taking pitches out of the strike zone. As simple and obvious as that sounds, that is one of the more challenging tasks a hitter faces. Chris Harihar at iYankees ran the numbers and found that Gardner seems to have a good batting eye:

According to FanGraphs’ plate discipline data, Gardner swung at only 17.2% of the pitches that he saw off the plate. Believe it or not, when compared to eagle-eyed sluggers like Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Hideki Matsui, Gardner actually swung at fewer pitches outside of the zone than any other player on the Yankees. Interestingly though, while Gardner did not swing at balls, he also did not swing at many strikes. Last season, the speedy outfielder swung at 50.7% of the pitches thrown to him that were in the strike zone (the team average was 64.6%). The percentage stands as the lowest in-the-zone swing mark of any Yankee last season. All in all, Gardner swung at 34% of the pitches he saw, which was, again, the lowest percentage of all the club’s hitters…

In addition, when actually swinging at pitches that were either in or out of the strike zone, in 2009, Gardner was actually very good at making contact. When swinging at a ball, the left/center fielder was rather Cano-esque, making contact 75.5% of the time. Furthermore, when swinging at a strike, Gardner made contact 91.9% of the time.

So here we begin to see the problem. Gardner has a very good eye for pitches outside of the strike zone but he seems to be a bit too discerning with pitches inside the zone. He took a lot of strikes — nearly half of them in fact — and seems to have earned a reputation as a player who will take too many pitches.

In the end, we see that Gardner’s reputation as a looker isn’t undeserved, but he’s not quite a strike out machine. For him to succeed in 2010, he’ll have to keep that K rate where it was last year or at least where it averages out for his career. If he’s striking out 21.3 percent of the time as we he was in 2008, he will have to be walking a lot more, but if he can strike out around 16 percent of the time and swing at a few more pitches within the zone while maintaining his contact rate, he could be an effective nine hitter and a speed threat on the bases.

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  • barry

    Gardner is Beast.

  • AndrewYF

    I assume we don’t have these statistics of his minor league numbers.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Other than pure strike out numbers, nope. He struck out in 16.6 percent of his plate appearances as a minor leaguer.

      • Short Porch

        Do we have his minor league P/PA stats? Gardner can be part of that meat grinder offense to some degree if he continues to have a 4.05 P/PA as he did in 2009.

        Among regulars, that would have put him at 33, just .01 behind Damon! for all Major Leaguers and 15 among ALers. Give me a lineup of 4 P/PA guys and the starter is gone after 5 innings and the whole line up commences to feast the lousy middle reliever brought in. It’s become the Yankee Way (well, Cano, that contact making free swinging freak of nature excluded).

        That has to be considered when looking at this. He will help make the rest of the lineup better by taking yet another chunk out of the starter. And if he gets on base and proceeds to annoy the starter by being a dangerous base runner – even the threat of stealing – that should help Yankee hitters, that is Jeter, Johnson, and Tex as the lineup flips over.

        Derek Jeter, do you want Gardner hitting in front of you to wear down the pitcher, give you some looks and what he’s got, and on base (helping avoid a double play, which Jeter is prone to) when you are batting?

        Any stats for all that?

        • Dalelama

          I have read that major league hitters actually perform worse when a base stealing threat is on first as they, the hitter, have more to worry about or get distracted.

          • Short Porch

            Wow. Love a citation there. Curse you Rickey Henderson! No wonder you never got a ring with the Yanks!

  • jim p

    Wouldn’t an over-cautious approach be a natural part of acquiring pitch-recognition in a relatively young, and new, player? That’s what I think is going on here.

    If he can just keep engaging his lower half like Long had him doing in May & June of ’09, and he feels a bit more comfortable about swinging at strikes, I expect a good year from him.

    • OldYanksFan

      Looking at strike 3 is frustrating, but I prefer it to Melky’s swinging at ball 3 over his head.

      I think Gardy is obviously a bit nervous at the plate. He looks like a kid up there… but he is. I think as he gains confidence and learns the pitchers, he will respond. The kid’s got a good head. He will be alright.

  • MattG

    “Gardner has a very good eye for pitches outside of the strike zone but he seems to be a bit too discerning with pitches inside the zone.”

    Its not being discerning, he simply takes more pitches. 2-0, 3-1, Gardner’s trying to walk. With that skill set, that’s what he should be doing, too.

    • OldYanksFan

      I agree. It’s fine to hit .250 if you can OBP at a .350 rate. If he turns into a Swisher type (without the power obviously), we will have a solid, VERY cheap starter for a few years… and this is VERY important.

      Too many comments here assume the Yankee’s can always spend more and ergo, should not put up with a guy like Brett (or like Melky the last 3 years). I believe the Yankees CAN spend more, but DON’T WANT to.

      Cashman wants to Win. But maybe he would like our (winning team’s) payroll to be within 25-33% of the next guy and not more then double the MLB average. To me, the only thing better then Winning with a $200m payroll, is winning with a $180m payroll.

      Cashman is a smart Dude. He continue’s to show it. George tried to Win by using his checkbook alone. Cashman is trying to add some intelligent management to the process.

      • Mac1

        >To me, the only thing better then Winning with a $200m payroll, is winning with a $180m payroll.Cashman is trying to add some intelligent management to the process<

        Yep, by spending over 400 mil on CC, AJ and Tex – to go along with a few guys making 8+ figures in Jeter, A-Rod, Posada, Mo, Andy – great management – he's a genius.

  • pat

    Until he drives a few more pitches into the gap or over the fence, I have a feeling he’s going to see a lot of fastball down the middle in 2 and 3 ball counts.

  • Ellis

    You wrote that he should “make contact on a few more pitches within the zone”. He’s making contact on 91.9% of strikes, pretty close to Ichiro (92.2%) and Jeter (91.4%) in ’09.

    These stats are more proof that Gardner has real, demonstrable hitting skills. He’s the real deal. Great article, thanks for illuminating this.

    • iYankees

      He makes contact on 91.9% of the strikes he swings at, yes. Unfortunately, he doesn’t swing at as many strikes as he should given his offensive skill set (and pitchers are going to challenge him with strikes if he’s an everyday player). Gardner has the ability to make contact on pitches in the zone, he just needs to utilize that skill to his advantage by swinging at a few more of them.

      • Salty Buggah

        Exactly. I was about to write the same thing but thankfully I accidentally refreshed the page.

      • Ellis

        ohhh good point. Thanks. Hopefully he can get his Z-swing % closer to Juan Pierre’s 58.4%

        • iYankees

          Not sure if you’re trying to be condescending, but Pierre actually hit .308/.365/.392 and was worth more, offensively, than David DeJesus in that regard (104 wRC+ vs 109 wRC+). If Gardner puts up an offensive line like that, plus a DeJesus’ like UZR of 14.9, he’ll actually be a very valuable LF.

          • Salty Buggah

            I will go nuts if puts that line up and it doesn’t seem that far-fetched

            (BTW I don’t think he was trying to be condescending)

            • iYankees

              Ha, yea probably not (sorry, Ellis). I just saw Juan Pierre and was like, “How dare you!” If Gardner put up something close to that line, I think we would all be very happy (as long as his defense is top notch, of course, which it most likely will be).

              • Ellis

                Haha yeah I wasn’t being sarcastic at all, I’m hoping Gardner develops into a Pierre-like, franchise player. Best case scenario, for sure, but I can dream.

                • JMK aka The Overshare’s Garden Apartment Complex

                  If there’s any justice, MLB will allow Pierre, Gardner, and Scott Podsednik to take steroids.

                • Mike Pop


          • Mac1

            Pierre had two of assists, 0 HR’s and less than 1/2 the RBI’s that DeJesus had (13 of assists for Dejesus).

            JMO, but when you rely on complex stats to tell the whole story of a players worth on a comparitive basis, its not the greatest way to say who is the better player – or the more valuable one.

            • Ed

              So you’re saying that the easier a stat is to calculate, the better it is?

  • Carl

    BG haters

  • Anthony

    I really hope they get a left fielder because Gardner is not going to give us anything offensively.Right now our entire outfield and bench is not looking to good.

    • JMK aka The Overshare’s Garden Apartment Complex

      Holy hyperbole, Batman! (And an inaccurate one at that.)

    • LI Kevin

      Our entire outfield??

      • JMK aka The Overshare’s Garden Apartment Complex

        Mark my words, LI Kevin, the Germans will bomb Pearl Harbor again.


        • Tom Zig

          I like when people play the hyperbole game

          • Short Porch

            Its the incredible-est!

          • Rob NY

            If we don’t play the hyperbole game, the terrorists win.

            With love,
            Your Next Commissioner of Baseball George W. Bush

    • Benjamin Kabak

      I see you’ve ignored my last two posts on the subject. Oh well. Can’t convince ’em all.

      • Salty Buggah

        Hah, I love it when you guys write a post trying to argue one thing (and a lot of times it’s proved) and commentators completely ignore it and just post some irrational shit.

        • OldYanksFan

          Ya can’t have a high quality baseball blog or discussion without a lot of irratinal shit (think RSN and MSM).

  • PaulF

    I don’t think it would be that easy for him to just increase his zone swing rate without also swinging at more balls. Gardner swung at fewer pitches out of the zone because he swung at fewer pitches. The question is, if the 50/17 ratio remains constant, what is the optimal amount that he should swing?

    • Tedshred

      Gardner just needs to learn how to drag bunt and he becomes infititely more productive.

  • Drew

    In his career he has 79 AB’s vs lefties. His K/AB is 22% against lefties and 17% vs righties. Once he is fully exposed to lefties I’ll assume his aggregate k rate will rise. Even though in the minors he’s had a reverse split(slugging wise), in the bigs I don’t see that happening.

    We all hope for the best with Grit but until he has an actual ss vs lefties I can’t rely on aggregate stats.

    Gardy has a good eye. Fine. But will major league pitchers throw many pitches out of the zone to a guy that can’t get the ball out of the infield? His 388 obp in the minors is impressive but it doesn’t translate well, if at all, to mlb.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      His 388 obp in the minors is impressive but it doesn’t translate well, if at all, to mlb.

      That’s a pretty bold statement to make when, of all the MiLB traits a player can show, OBP translates better than any of them. Care to explain your thinking here?

      • Drew

        Solely the power factor.

        In the minors a lot of pitchers simply can’t throw the ball over the plate consistently. In the bigs most of them can. When they see Grit at the plate in front of Jetes I imagine that he will not be given a free pass too often. He’ll have to hit his way on as pitchers aren’t afraid of grooving one.

        I agree with the rule that OBP translates well to MLB. I suspect Grit may be the exception to that rule.

        • Salty Buggah

          While I agree on the lack of power affecting his OBP, I don’t think that negative effect will be THAT drastic. Sure, he probably won’t OBP .388 in the majors but he has enough discipline to OBP at least .340 – .350.

          • Drew

            Hell I’d take that in a second with his speed.

            It would be Melk-esque, minus Melk’s power but plus Grit’s speed.

            My whole skepticism towards him is based on the none existent ss vs lefties.

            • Salty Buggah

              Fair enough

          • OldYanksFan

            Think Matty Alou! That little guy was weaker then Brett and not as fast, but made himself into a very valuable ballplayer.

            A LOT of this game is about Baseball smarts. We saw Melky UNDERperform his talent by being baseball stupid (wBIQ = -37). If Brett plays smart (maybe cutting down on the uppercut and learning to drag bunt), he could be a very effective, pesty AND GRITTY! player.

            And let’s face it. The Yankees need some Grittyness.

            • Dalelama

              Matty Alou had much better bat control and was an excellent drag bunter which is a skill Gardner needs to enhance

            • Mac1

              If ifs and buts where candies and nuts…

              > (wBIQ = -37).<

              Relying on stats such as these without watching most of the games is folly.

              • Jack

                You do realize that he made that up, right?

        • Drew

          Ben, don’t you think his slugging percentage presents an obstacle for him when translating his MiLB obp to MLB obp?

      • Mac1

        >That’s a pretty bold statement to make when, of all the MiLB traits a player can show, OBP translates better than any of them. Care to explain your thinking here?<

        Jason Tyner's 2000 AAA (year before he got called up to the bigs).


        His 2001 big year season



        Minors: 298/363/350

        Majors: 275/314/323

        As I never grow tired of saying, Tyner is GGBG's comp – except Tyner was a better avg hitter – at least in this case, obp suffered more than avg or power.

        It would be nice if you also commented on GGBG's bunting ability.

        • Benjamin Kabak

          So you’ve managed to cherry pick one player who had a high MiLB OBP one year and didn’t excel in the majors. That’s hardly a valid way of analyzing the situation.

          • Mac1

            Not cherry picking Ben, I remember all the hype around Tyner (the Mets 1st round draft pick) and what type of player he actually was. He’s a great comp to GGBG, better than Crosby who couldn’t even manage 300 big league ab’s.

            You also neglected to mention GGBG K’d about 22% in K’s per AB in AAA – not a nice trend.

            BTW, your assertion of OBP being the least affected was backed up by nothing but your own opinion.

            Wish you would have covered GGBG’s lack of bunting prowess as well – with the type of hitter he is, he’s going to need all the help he can get obp wise.

            • Benjamin Kabak

              By selecting a grand total of one player you think is similar to Gardner and focusing solely on him, you are exactly cherry picking. That’s in fact, the definition of cherry picking.

              As to Gardner’s AAA K rate, it’s 18.5 percent. K rate is calculated based on PAs, not ABs. That’s slightly higher than we’d all like, but it’s not alarming.

              As for OBP, that’s just accepted knowledge. Power develops late, but a good on-base guy will generally remain a good on-base guy, particularly if his OBP remains high as he advances through the farm system. Some guys — Jason Tyner — don’t pan out, but many others do.

  • YankFanDave

    When will you guys go back to sports journalism, that’s old school journalism, not today’s name calling and extremism.

    The debate about Gardner is a fair and reasonable one. But posts have taken to painting anyone who questions Gardner as the Yanks LF starter in the extreme, usually just some smucks that want “an all star at every position” or here as a bunch of guys/gals that say he “sucks.” Those representations are not accurate and simply provide a shortcut in defense of Gardner as starter.

    The point can be made without that approach.

    • Drew

      I’m confused, is this directed towards Ben or the commenter base?

      • Salty Buggah

        Heh, I’m thinking it’s neither. I don’t see how that relates to Ben’s post at all (unless of course he didn’t understand what was said in this post) so I guess it’s more likely it’s toward the posters.

      • andrew

        Probably in response to Ben for this:

        One comment, in particular, is representative of what many believe to be Gardner’s shortcomings . Said Dalelama, “Let me end the suspense—Gardner sucks. But takes the prettiest third strike down the middle of the plate. Nobody leaves the bat on the shoulder like Brett.”

        And I kind of agree. Yes, a lot of people have been posting things like that, but what are we always told about the trolls/dumb comments. Just ignore them. The majority of people on this site who have concerns about Gardner have legitimate reasons for these concerns. To paint them as just people who want to have an all star at every position isn’t really fair. I happen to agree that Gardner will more than suffice as the 9 hitter and left fielder, but that doesn’t mean their concerns aren’t legitimate.

        • Salty Buggah

          But what Dalelama said wasn’t dumb (though I agree usually the trolls leave dumb comments similar to that). It was true based on the facts provided. Gardner does in fact take too many pitchers for strikes.

        • Benjamin Kabak

          Yet, as this post points out, those who doubt his ability to succeed certainly have valid fears about his shortcomings. I’m not saying that Dalelama or others think the Yanks need an All Star at every position, but rather, they are skeptical of Gardner’s long-term projection as an everyday player. A lot of fans feel that way even if others, as Dave here illustrates, do not.

        • Drew

          Oh word.

          Yeah.. people say unsubstantiated, ignorant things all the time, whether it’s sports or any other subject. Ben was just using that comment as a blanket statement for the many Grit haters. No need for YanksFanDave to make it more than it is.

          “When will you guys go back to sports journalism, that’s old school journalism, not today’s name calling and extremism.”
          This site, more than any other sports site I’ve seen, exploits that “extremism” and shoots it down for the bs that it is.

      • YankFanDave

        Comment directed at Ben.

        • Benjamin Kabak

          Still don’t see why though. Dalelama expressed a valid concern with Gardner’s plate discipline and we turned it into a post highlighting the issue and explaining it. How is that acknowledging trolls or whatever else you contend it is?

  • The Situation

    How can you guys really be happy with our OF situation.Granderson strikes out way to much and a 240 avg is nothing to write home about.Swisher sucked in the playoffs and Gardner will be lucky to hit his weight.Even bringing in another OF like a Hairston or Johnson we are going to be hurting out there that OF will be our down fall.

    • Mike R

      What gets me is how no one had much to say when Gardner was the starting center fielder for the opening game in 2009, when Damon was the left fielder. The switch from Gardner to left, and Damon out and Granderson in is a clear upgrade. Not only does Gradny play a better center field but he still makes thing happen, signing Johnny to play left would be fine if it was for the price of ~5M but it’s clearly not going to happen. I’m fine with Gardner in left, just as I was with him starting in Center, anyone who the Yankees require will aid the team not make it. Are you not content with a line up based around Jeter, Teix, A-Rod, Granderson, Johnson, Cano. Give me a break, our outfield is better than many teams. I have faith in Swisher to come back from his horrible post-season, and Grandy will do just fine, he’s a great ball player and a great guy. Signing Hairston or Reed Johnson will only slightly improve our team, which is all we really need.

    • Drew

      “How can you guys really be happy with our OF situation.”
      Are you serious broseph?

      Swisher: 249/371/498! —-29HR’s
      C-Grand(CFer): 249/327/453 —-30HR’s

      I’ll tell you the situation, it’s fucking legit as hell, man. If Gardy/Hoff/Reed/J-Hair/XXanon/anyone produces at an average level our outfield will be sick.

      Get a grip, man.

      • iYankees

        Drew’s comment > *

        The Yankees do indeed have a very legit offense. Also, strikeouts are such a poor evaluative tool. He “strikes out way too much,” IMO, is the lamest argument ever. All the big power hitters strikeout a lot. Hey, A-Rod strikes out more than Cano does, so, is Cano a better hitter? No, of course not. Swisher does K a lot, but he also does a lot of things extremely well and those things are more important than his strikeouts.

        • iYankees

          Meant “Granderson does K a lot…” not Swisher.

          • AndrewYF

            Well, Swisher does K a lot too.

        • raymagnetic

          “all the big power hitters strikeout a lot”

          Albert Pujols says hello.

      • Mac1

        I’ve got no problem with Grandy or Swish – they’ll put up their #’s at the end of 162.

        But, I think its a valid concern in the postseason, when the bottom of the order will most likely pile up alot of K’s against top pitching.

        Swish had a couple of nice hits, but he looked overmatched through most of the postseason (6/47 1 HR, 1RBI, 5R, 7 BB, 15K’s).

        Swish\Grand\Gardy – that could be a very easy inning every 3 come October.

        The other concern is who his Grandy? Will he be the guy who has a 4th straight declining year in OPS, are his “case of the knoblauchs'” gone? Me, I think he’ll get back to the 800-820+ ops range, hope he’s capable of a good CF as well – it will give the Yanks the oprtion of bringing in a lfer if the Gardy experiment fails.

    • Salty Buggah

      Yea, this is dude is clearly trying to rile us up. First, the name should tell us he’s shitting with us. Second, nearly everything said is too troll-like to make him sound serious. Finally, his grammatical errors are a bit fishy.

    • Evilest Empire

      Expect Granderson’s BA/OBP to rise in 2010 for 4 simple reasons:

      1. He had a down year and should naturally be expected to rebound

      2. Doesn’t have to face lefties in Comercia (Granderson has something around a .715 road OPS vs. LHP)

      3. Hitting in a stadium where his lefty power will be augmented

      4. K-Long’s magic hitting voodoo

  • The Situation

    Like your name is real legit ha Salty.I am sorry about my grammatical errors but i didn’t graduate from your special ed school.

    I am telling you this outfield stinks.I never liked Gardner from the beginning,i would take Melky over him anytime.The only way we will be okay is if we resign Damon.

    With Damon,Swisher and Melky this was our outfield totals.
    66 hr’s and 232 rbi’s.With Damon and Melky gone we lose.37 and 150.Let’s not forget we lost 28 and 90 with Matsui gone.

    • SamVa

      Ignoring the fact that you know nothing about Salty or whether he attended a “special ed school,” let’s examine your points.

      Damon, Swisher, and Melky= 66 HR’s 232 RBI’s.. and since no other stat’s obviously matter whatsoever in the game of baseball let’s just stay with that.. and we won’t even include OBP or any other stat that most people with any common baseball knowledge use.
      Granderson, Swisher, and gardner= 62 HR’s 176 RBI’s.. So if that was all that mattered you would be entirely correct, BUT Damon is getting older. He had a great year, but you can’t really expect him to put up those numbers again. With each year he was becoming a greater defensive liability in LF. Sure, maybe he goes out next year and proves me wrong, but that is far more unlikely than Granderson, in the hitting park that YS is now, comes back and becomes a very important part of our line-up… Gardy may not be an all-star candidate, but he will do some things this year. He will change some games on the base paths and he will make a lot of pitchers uncomfortable, which is a tool that there isn’t a stat for (that I know of)… so let it play out, trust Cash.. and maybe look beyond HR’s/RBI’s for a few seconds. Damon hit 17 at home this year and 7 on the road.. what makes you think that Grandy won’t have a huge increase?

  • Stevis

    An Ode To Gardner…… It Is High ,It is far…its caught by the 2nd Basement!!! Boy that Gardner guy has 120 foot pop in his bat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • LarryM, FL.

    I have not read every comment but appreciate the leg work on the stats. Watching Brett over the last two seasons, I believed he was a looker at the plate. As one commentor indicated looking for a walk. This sets him up for a mental approach which is less than aggressive, pitchers get this and become more likely to throw pitches for strikes.

    When Brett gets behind in the count he’s defensive. My thoughts are change your approach to aggressive and hit the ball where its pitched using all parts of the field. Thus his speed will emerge.

    He has limited power and weak against lefties so don’t be so discerning.

    • Matt Imbrogno

      For a guy like Gardner, though, an aggressive approach may not be all that great. I’d rather he be up there looking for the right pitch than trying to swing at one early in the count. Due to his lack of power, there isn’t much of an advantage to Brett jumping on the first pitch that he thinks he might want to hit. Then again, getting a hit is obviously better than making an out. If pitchers start to essentially “lob” one over on the first pitch every time, then Gardy should be swinging.

      The key will be mixing his approach. As of right now, he has a reputation for looking at the first pitch and generally not being too aggressive. If he falls into that pattern too much, it’ll be exploited and he won’t be able to even walk. Finding a balance between aggressively swinging and aggressively watching is necessary, and if Gardner doesn’t find that balance this season, that could be it for him.

  • Nostra-Artist

    Everyone knows the only “Swinger” on the team is named Alex Rodriguez.

  • LarryM, FL.

    Matt, I did not find pitchers lob one over but were able to throw strikes until he’s down in the count. This makes for a defensive hitter. Since he has a decent eye than making contact with decent pitches should enhance his ability to get the ball in play the other 84% of the time with more authority. This may improve his on base % or at least eliminate the full swing pop-ups to the infield.

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  • Section 39

    For a player with Gardner’s speed, the stat the matters the most is his OBP. Last year he was up at 345. If he can get that up to the 370 range with better pitch recognition, he will be threat because of his speed.

    • 28 next year

      .370is OBP is well above average. A .345 is really good for a number 9 hitter and would give Gardner sufficient chances to wrreak havoc on the basepaths.

  • Januz

    I just do not get the negativity towards Brett Gardner. Is he Rickey Henderson? Of course not. But the 1998 Yankees won with Chad Curtis playing most of his games in left field and Curtis had these stats: 1998 29 NYY AL 151 545 456 79 111 21 1 10 56 21 5 75 80 .243 .355 .360 .714 It did not kill them. More to the point, they won the 2009 World Series with the WORST outfield ever put together by a Yankees Championship team, and that team included Brett Gardner, so Gardner’s productivity (Or lack of) will not be the determining factor in the final outcome of the 2010 New York Yankees. It will be determined (As it usually is) by pitching and staying healthy).

    • Matt Imbrogno

      How was it the worst OF any Yankee team had put together? They had well above average production on both corners and even Melky was around league average.

  • The Ghost of Phil Rizzuto

    Prediction: Gardner will be benched by Memorial Day. He may not be Bubba Crosby but he’s not really much better.

    • Kiko Jones

      +1 (if not sooner)

    • SM

      Who did you have penciled in as the Yank’s starting CF this time last year? inquiring minds would like to know

      • andrew

        Well… I think you might be getting at the fact that Gardner was penciled in for the job at this time last year. But I don’t think that helps prove your point, because we all know Gardner failed and was benched. This year he could do the same, without a legitimate backup plan.

        • SM

          Well, Melky was coming off an OBP of around 315 from 07 and 08. So if that was the backup plan you are comfortable with, and most had him as starter, what exactly is you issue with Gardner. He is not a worldbeater, but should be able to give you 330 obp.
          As for failing gardner was 345 obp with plus D, if that is failure sign me up.
          There are legitimate issues to worry about, namely how much can Jorge catch and how often will you have to go Molina and Gardner. But gardner in isolation is not really an issue because there is very little chance he actually hurts the team.

  • LarryM, FL.

    I’m not trying to be negative toward Brett Gardner but the Hot Stove Theatre is about improving the team. Brett Gardner hitting wise is inclined to be a CF. He has potential to improve with more play and a different approach at the plate.

    I could live with Gardner and Hoffmann. This would keep with the theme to go younger. Hairston would provide some stability to rest Arod and play LF and Third. I like Pena’s glove at short and second much better than Hairston. It gives our young guys some playing time in case the need arises to play for a two week period or more.

  • anon

    Alot of Gardners caught looking strikes werent strikes. He is a rookie and umpiring was at its worst last year. They didnt give him the calls. A ton of his AB’s just didnt go his way but it had nothing to do with his ability.

    • Dalelama

      If that were true he should have adjusted.

  • Kiko Jones

    “…Teixeira is a different type of hitter than Gardner is…

    Yeah, and a Mercedes is a different type of car than a Hyundai. If we’re making comparisons, doesn’t Vladimir Guerrero swing at an inordinate amount of pitches off the plate? Big fans of Gardner, are we?

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Big fans? No. I’m not really sold on his ability to be more than a 4th outfielder, but I’m also willing to give him a shot beyond 150 games. Step out of your “Brett Gardner is the worst player ever” shoes and take a close look at the posts we’ve written about him.

      • Kiko Jones

        I don’t think Gardner is “the worst player ever” just not everyday LF material in the Bronx. I’m not one of those histrionic, “on the ledge” Yankee fans but I don’t feel comfortable looking for the silver lining in a 4th OF at best. So, I see him as the current Opening Day LF, with the fervent hope that status changes any day now.

  • LI Kevin

    Hyundais can get you where you need to go, but for a lot cheaper.
    Baseball analogies work for life experiences.
    Car analogies for baseball? Not so much.

    • Kiko Jones

      OK, no car analogies, then: how ’bout we not compare an elite player’s hitting with that of an average-at-best, 4th OF, just to make an irrelevant point. Better now?

      If Tex strikes out three times as much as Gardner are you going to make the latter your no.3 hitter? No, right? So, what’s the point: that the non-hitting Gardner strikes out less than a run-driving, offensive powerhouse? Absurd.

      Instead of making a case for Gardner as Opening Day LF we should all be hoping Cashman is cooking up a plan that precludes the team from starting a slightly better version of Cody Ransom. (Yes, I’m exaggerating but, sadly, not by much.)

      • Benjamin Kabak

        Here’s what I still don’t understand. Why do you hate Gardner so much? The numbers say he can be a valuable player. He had a 2.1 WAR over what was effectively a half a season and can probably be an average player if given the chance. He might not mash, but if he can churn out a .350 OBP out of the 9 hole, steal bases and play above-average defense, he’ll be a valuable member of the team. Maybe he won’t do that, but you’re not even willing to give him a chance.

  • Joseph M

    Gardner is a spare part, nothing more. We’ll all find that out the first month of the season. The question I have is where will the Yankees go after that to find a replacement. The line up is still very good, the biggest weakness will be the 5 hole. Matsui is going to be very hard to replace. Johnson who is slated to replace Damon in the 2 hole is a trip to the disabled list waiting to happen. We’ll hope for the best.

    I am very disappointed in the work Cashman has done putting the team together but there is still more than enough talent to get us back to the postseason. Quality postseason players don’t grow on trees, we lost two historically strong postseason players and that could very well come back to haunt us.

    One final point, I have nothing but the gut to go on but I think Granderson pick up was a major blunder.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      No offense, but you have nothing to go on but your gut for nearly all of the claims in this comment. You can’t win if you have a bunch of 37-year-olds in your lineup, and we can’t let a solid postseason cloud your judgment for the 162 games that count. The Yanks have a great core and some stellar pitching for 2010. I think you’re worrying for the wrong reasons.

      • Kiko Jones

        The 36 year old Johnny Damon was solid throughout the regular and post-season. Let’s not shortchange him now.

        Johnson…is a trip to the disabled list waiting to happen.

        If the above statement isn’t accurate, then perception has overtaken reality in a big way, ’cause some variation of the above is the first thing that has popped up in practically every mention of Johnson coming back to the Bronx. (I could be mistaken but even in RAB, too.)

        • Joseph M

          Look at Johnson’s career, Over the last ten years:

          2000 (spent entire minor league season on the disabled list)

          2007 (injured at Shea last game of 2006, missed all of 2007)

          2008 (injured in early May of 2008 missed the rest of the season played 38 games)

          2002 on DL missed three and a half weeks.

          2003 spent more than two months on the DL.

          2004 started the season on the DL (activated in late May), went on the DL in late August missed the rest of the season.

          In ten years he has played over 140 games once, over 130 games twice, it’s just not a pretty picture.

      • Joseph M

        It is gut with respect to Granderson, less so with respect to the very injury prone Johnson (Johnson is a very good player when he has his health).

        Gardner is another story, this guy is the last or next to last man on a roster. He’s done nothing at the major league level to give anyone hope that he is anything more than that. If folks are seeing anything more then they are looking with their hearts and not their eyes. We can reconvene the first week in May, if I’m wrong I’ll say I’m sorry, but I won’t be.

  • Mo

    Prediction: all those who are confident with Gardner in LF, will be lighting up these posts with trade proposals for a new LF by June 1. Oh and Hoffmann won’t make the ML roster.

  • Mo

    Here is the Brett Gardner Spectrum of Success:

    1-Bubba Crosby 2-Jason Tyner 3- Carlos Gomez 4-Scott Podsednick

    Where do you predit he will place in 2010 on this spectrum? Some I’m afraid have him off the charts in the Kenny Lofton – Brett Butler range.

  • Mo

    I don’t mind going the speed/defense route in LF but Yanks need some insurance for Gardner. I would like to see Yanks trade for Rajai Davis (can’t be too expensive) or even WIlly Taveras to platoon and rotate in OF and pinch run off the bench.

  • pete luciano

    Remember when the Yankees signed Dave Collins, we heard so much about speed, tough gritty players, etc., doesn’t work in Gotham. For God’s sake Gardy is a nice bench player but a corner outfielder in NY, please. If Damon doesn’t get a 1 yr deal sign Dye cheap, he’s a veteran, right handed, and has power. Hairston would be a great utility player, can pinch hit for Granderson vs leftys late in the game and play the of if necessary. Cheap, makes sense, and and gives nice left right balance in the lineup. Jeter Johnson Tex Arod Posada Cano Dye Swisher and Granderson would be a tough line up. 1000 runs?

  • Bucksky619

    I do not agree with the opinion that Brett Gardner sucks. Given the type of player he is and his role with the team he had a pretty respectable average and on base percentage. I do think that he needs to be more aggressive in the strike zone though. He may have a good eye but he needs to put the ball in play, put pressure on defenses and make things happen. I’ve noticed that when Gardner is on he’s solid line drive to the gap type hitter. When he struggles he hits those soft fly balls. Above all else he needs to hit the ball on the ground and keep it out of the air.
    I have no use for people who would take a shot at a guy like Gardner for not being perfect in his first full year. What does he need to do? Hit .320, 30 HR’s 115 RBI so you won’t think he sucks?

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