Jul
21

The Great Gardner

By

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

I’ve been following the minor leagues for quite some time now, and I’ve been wrong about a lot of players, in both a good way and bad way. I was wrong about Brett Gardner. I saw a guy with little power and thought he’d have trouble handling big league fastballs. I didn’t think the plate discipline he showed in the minors would translate to the show because pitchers had no reason not to challenge him. I undervalued his defense and baserunning. I was wrong. I don’t think I’ve ever been more wrong about a prospect coming up.

The Yankees entrusted Gardner will a full-time job at the start of last season, 257 team games and nearly 900 plate appearances ago (892 to be exact). During that time he’s hit .280/.376/.394 with 73 stolen bases in 92 chances (78.5% success rate). His .359 wOBA since the start of 2010 is sixth best among big league left fielders, his OBP third best. He’s generated 27.0 runs with his bat in that time, another 6.7 with his legs. That 33.7 run offensive contribution is bested only by Josh Hamilton, Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday, and Carlos Gonzalez. Not Carl Crawford, not Martin Prado, not Alfonso Soriano, not anyone else handling left field full-time. Only 13 outfielders total, regardless of field, have topped that production.

The last week has been the best offensive stretch of Gardner’s career; he’s reached base 18 times in seven games since the All-Star break. He has 14 hits in 25 at-bats plus four walks. That’s a .560 batting average and .621 OBP in the seven games. He’s struck out just twice during that time, in part because his 2.9% swing and miss rate since the start of last year is the fourth lowest in baseball. I also underrated his ability to get the bat on the ball. Only six players have seen more than the 4.25 pitches Gardner sees in an average plate appearance this year. I also underrated his ability to work the count.

Then there’s the defense. Oh the defense. UZR doesn’t just rate Gardner as baseball’s best defensive player since the start of last season, he’s lapped the field. The system has him saving 41.6 runs with the glove in that time, well ahead of second place Adrian Beltre and his 20.6 runs saved. If you prefer John Dewan’s +/- system, or DRS, then Gardner is baseball’s third best defensive player (29 runs saved) since the start of 2010 behind Brendan Ryan (36) and Troy Tulowitzki (33). Total Zone has him at 21 runs saved, behind only Jay Bruce, Juan Pierre, and Jose Lopez (all 22). The best thing about Gardner’s defense is that I don’t even need to use numbers, it’s easy to see how he dominates the defensive side of the game just by watching. If a ball gets by him, you know the other team has earned it.

It’s been more than a month since Gardner has been caught stealing a base, and he’s swiped seven bags in the last five days. No AL player has more than his 30 steals this season, and only three players (Michael Bourn, Rajai Davis, and Pierre) have more than his 77 steals since the start of last season. It’s been a long time since the Yankees had this kind of player on their roster, a dynamic leadoff type that did everything but hit for power. A lot of people doubted Gardner’s ability to be an everyday player in this league, including yours truly, but our sample is larger than a year and a half now. Gardner isn’t just one of the best players on the Yankees, he’s one of the very best outfielders in baseball.

Categories : Players
  • teddy

    you won’t was suprising gardner 420 slg percent this year

    • http://www.thefatladyblog.com Josh

      i’m sure the slg is boosted simply by getting more balls to land safely. he’s improved his average from last year. probably doesn’t have to worry about his wrist anymore.

      • pete

        I am so incredibly impressed with your ability to read and understand sentences like “you won’t was surprising gardner 420 slg percent this year”

        • http://www.thefatladyblog.com Josh

          ya know pete, i just made an assumption about a typical brett gardner narrative. i may be wrong /charles barkley’d

          • boogie down

            D-E-F-E-N-S-E

  • Pete E

    Nice article! Well done

  • Rosco

    I know Jeter is not giving up the top spot and Brett doesn’t hit for power but don’t you think he should be hitting higher than Martin and Jorge for now since he is on this hot streak.

    • TMiller30

      Gardner should be hitting ahead of Martin, Posada, Swisher, Cano, A-Rod, Teix, Jeter and Granderson..

      I really wish he didn’t stumble out of the gate when Joe had his platooning at the 1 spot, or he’d probably still be up there. Hopefully he gets another chance soon..

      Although I don’t Jeter being out was the sole reason for the Yanks playing so well for those 3+ weeks, I also don’t think you can forget about the fact that Gardner was playing really well at the top of the lineup and geting on base (and stealing them!) infront of the guys who should be getting the RBIs

      • http://twitter.com/AnaMariana42 Ana

        Wait, so it wasn’t that Nunez’s magical skill with the bat (that is so magical that even statistics can’t see it) and his underdog will to win and desire to defy the haters elevated the team to an entirely new level? Why I never.

        In all seriousness, though, while the team is obviously better with Jeter as opposed to Nunez, it was nice to see Gardy up there in the leadoff spot, I agree with you.

        • TMiller30

          I too was temporarily blinded by the flash that is Eduardo Nunez, I have to believe it wasn’t 100% his doing. haha I would be curious to see if his fielding would improve some if he got more consistent playing time like he has recently with all the injuries. I feel like he made a majority of them in his spot starts.

          Certainly not a great fielder, but maybe tolerable to okay?

          • http://twitter.com/AnaMariana42 Ana

            Eh, he’s gotten pretty consistent playing time with Alex out and he’s still atrocious. Maybe someday he won’t be, but today is not that day.

            • Ted Nelson

              I can’t really understand why you hate Nunez so much that you go so far out of your way to bash him.

              • http://twitter.com/AnaMariana42 Ana

                I don’t, and there was nothing off topic about my comment. He’s a crappy ballplayer. Every team has a few, it’s not the end of the world. Just take it for what it is.

                • Ted Nelson

                  It’s not necessarily off-topic (and I could care less about those big brother rules anyway), but that’s the second day in a row you’ve come out of basically no where to start bashing Nunez and saying how awful he is.

                  I’m not taking it for what it is because you are exaggerating the truth. The guy has made a lot of errors. That’s a bad thing. It brings down his value, yes. But you just keep calling him an “awful baseball player” and stuff like that.

                  We only have a small sample to work with, but… He’s a rookie. Jeter’s fWAR his first pro season was also -0.4 and he averaged a -10 FLD his first 7 years in the league (I’m not comparing Nunez’s future to Jeter’s… just saying that shit happens when you’re a rookie and there’s a learning curve).
                  His wOBA among SS with 150 PAs is 18th out of 43. His SLG is 14th. It’s not as though he has no value. He’s just making too many errors. It’s a small sample. If he makes 10 Es in the next 101 games at SS the way he did in AAA last season… suddenly you have no case. His history indicates he’ll make a lot of errors, but not necessarily this many.

                  I’m guessing it’s more of a love for Jeter than a hate for Nunez, but I still don’t get the need to randomly point out that he’s awful. Especially since Jeter’s defense has been awful his whole career… combined -113.1 FLD.

                  • http://twitter.com/AnaMariana42 Ana

                    I don’t see how it’s coming out of nowhere by any stretch. I was told multiple times during Jeter’s injury that the team was better off with Nunez playing shortstop – as silly as that is – so I was playing off that in support of the more reasonable comment that Gardner’s speed at the top of the lineup might have helped the club.

                    The only point at which I said “he’s pretty atrocious” today was in reference to his fielding, in response to TMiller30’s comment that he could turn into a decent fielder. To which, by the way, I also said, who knows, it could happen someday.

                    Has very little to do with Jeter, and a lot to do with the fact that it’s almost laughable how many people here are convinced that he’s good. You aren’t one of those people, you know he’s not good. My sarcasm, therefore, isn’t directed at you – and it’s not really directed at Nunez, either, more at the people who seem to be convinced he’s a good player.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      “Crappy” and “not good” are fairly synonymous with “awful.”

                      I don’t think the team is much worse off with Nunez than Jeter, because I don’t have much faith in Jeter having much left. I don’t think the team is better off with Nunez, but I don’t think Jeter-to-Nunez is a big loss at this point.

                      Nunez is only 24 and I think he can be an adequate MLB starting SS. That says as much about the supply of MLB SS… but by default I would have to call Nunez something close to “good.” SS is a valuable, scarce position and the guy can play there as well as anyone on a bunch of MLB teams.

                      The first place Brewers start Yuniesky Betancourt at SS. Cliff Pennington, Ryan Theriot… these guys are all starting SS, one on a playoff contender. Brendan Ryan is a top 10 SS right now according to fWAR. Jason Bartlett has a -5.4 FLD and a .289 wOBA (granted he plays in Petco) and he’s ahead of Jeter with an fWAR of 1… the 18th best SS in MLB this season according to fWAR. I think Nunez can get to a -5.4 FLD over a larger sample and a stadium-adjusted wOBA above .289. So I think he can be in the top 2/3 of starting MLB SS. Again, that’s pretty good.

                      My argument is more about looking at Jeter and the SS supply than Nunez himself, really. Putting Nunez in context.

                    • http://twitter.com/AnaMariana42 Ana

                      This is probably the most coherent argument I’ve heard as to Nunez’s value, so really, many props to you on that front.

                      I would differ with your terminology – just because everyone is bad doesn’t mean that bad is good, but I do see where you’re coming from there. I just don’t think that the fact that Betancourt with his -0.5 fWAR is a starting shortstop means that Nunez and his -0.5 fWAR are any less bad. But the field being bad is a decent point – although the guy we have starting is a full win and a half better than Nunez and still ranks very low in “the field.”

                      I won’t go into it much more, though, basically because I do understand your argument and it’s a pretty good one IMO. It’s refreshing to see that as opposed to “well I think he has pop with the bat” with no statistical evidence, or “he hit 3 home runs,” or “he’s better than Jeter because Jeter’s salary is higher,” or “I just LIKE him, okay?” And, like I said before, it’s the authors of those comments to whom I’m addressing my jabs more than at Nunez himself, who basically is what he is.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      I guess it’s about relative vs. absolute value. I could see an argument that while there are very few great-to-good MLB SS right now, there are many Nunez-level SS in AAA. I am basically going on an assumption that MLB players as a rule are better than AAA players, which isn’t always true… and even if it is they might now be much better.

                      I would also point out that -0.5 fWAR is in a tiny sample, and not necessarily his true level of talent. That’s how well he’s played through 160 PAs this season, but that doesn’t mean it’s how well he’ll play through the next 160 PAs. It’s a statement on how well he’s played a lot more than on how well he will play or should be playing. If he gets those errors down even from a ridiculously awful rate to a bad rate, his value should shoot up. And that’s one of my main points. That the offense appears to be enough. The range appears to be enough. The speed appears to be there to be a good baserunner. Over a larger sample I think he’ll put those skills together and hopefully keep the errors from ridiculous to bad or even acceptable.

        • David, Jr.

          It is astonishing that a guy making $17,000,000 is a little better than a raw rookie like Nuney, who has found himself starting for the Yankees at two different positions.

    • TMiller30

      But in the mean time, I’d love to see him 1 Jeter 2 (since he’s not going any further) and pushing Granderson 3, Cano 4 and Teix 5. I think giving Cano perceived protection would do a lot better for this team than giving Teix protection in the lineup

  • Jimmy McNulty

    Yeah, he’s been an extremely underrated player for the past couple of years. I’m unsure how much longer he can keep doing this…but I’ve definitely enjoyed the ride.

    • Ted Nelson

      “I’m unsure how much longer he can keep doing this…”

      Doing what? Playing baseball?

      Better watch out for those pieces of sky, Jimmy.

      • hogsmog

        Yeah I’m pretty sure this article makes it clear that Good Gardy is Real Gardy- I don’t think somebody that can perform at such a high level for 900 plate appearances and is well under 30 is due for a regression.

        That’s the perception I keep seeing, though. That Gardy is just a scrub who’s been getting lucky. He may not repeat his first half again, but for the next few years we’re definitely getting 4+ WAR for peanuts.

        • Ted Nelson

          Agreed. He could regress (as could anyone), but I don’t think it’s fair to expect it. Jimmy has a habit of expecting the worst case scenario to happen, rather than weighting various likely scenarios.

  • Sayid J.

    If the Yankees played in Tampa every game imagine how much Gardner’s UZR would skyrocket from catching flyballs in CF that Granderson loses.

  • Sayid J.

    If the Yankees played in Tampa every game imagine how much Gardner’s UZR would skyrocket from catching fly balls in CF that Granderson loses.

  • http://twitter.com/AnaMariana42 Ana

    *applause* *applause* *applause*

    I approve so much. Gardner is really, legitimately good at baseball in every domain except HR hitting, and he gets so much less love than so many people who are not as good at baseball as he is.

    Run, Brett, Run!

  • Russell NY

    This guy at my office argued with me until he was blue in the face last year about Gardner. He said Gardner was just another spot filler, like Ramiro Pena. The team is full of old players with a lack of speed and I saw Gardner as a lone player who could single-handedly turn that around. Not that I expect continued success but every time I looked at his minor league track record it was like every time he got a second chance at a level he succeeded. Gardner is now one of my favorite players on the team, if not my favorite. He brings us closer to the Angels way of playing, with speed and relentless base stealing.

    • TMiller30

      I’ve been a huge fan of Gardner’s since he came up. I liked that he offered something that we really hadn’t seen in a while and definitely didn’t have on the team at that moment. Sure he has had very frustrating times, but when he’s on point like he has been a majority of this season, the guy is a beast!

      • Russell NY

        I copied the article to the guy in my office and his comment was “I still don’t think he’s an all star….a good player and a very good base stealer…he has to get on base to steal or else he wont be in the lineup and he knows that”.

        It’s one thing to call a player one-dimensional, but speed just adds so much to a a players game you can’t put it under one category!

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          I copied the article to the guy in my office

          We’ll be expecting a hefty check to cover royalty fees.

          Sincerely,
          RAB Legal Department

          • Rick

            You don’t want to mess with Hahvahd lawyers.

        • http://twitter.com/waybj Brandon W

          Is he trying to say Gardner doesn’t get on base enough? Go sort the current Yankee regular batters by OBP and show him.

    • Ted Nelson

      “He brings us closer to the Angels way of playing”

      Losing games?

      • gc

        That was one of the more enjoyable aspects of beating the Angles in 2009. The supposedly sure-handed fundamentally superior Angels playing like the Bad News Bears. Then again, the Yankees won in that movie as well. :)

  • Stan the Man

    Great article. I think this is the first time I have agreed w/something entirely in a long time.

  • Scout

    Curious, though, but isn’t “a dynamic leadoff type” supposed to bat leadoff? Just asking.

  • Damix

    It makes me wonder…given his cost, is Gardner actually our most valuable player?

    • http://twitter.com/AnaMariana42 Ana

      Dollar for dollar, he’s by far the most valuable. He and Robertson (although D-Rob’s well behind Gardner by nature of being a relief pitcher) are presumably in a different league from the rest of the team as far as production by the dollar goes.

    • Rick in Boston

      He’s probably the most cost-effective player, but I’d say that Sabathia or Granderson would be the MVP.

      • Damix

        Agreed here, meant to type that.

        Also he’s got that grit factor that we love.

        Kidding of course.

  • Bronx Byte

    Gardner should be hitting leadoff to make things happen and stir up a pitcher in the 1st inning. Jeter hit at No. 2 for most of his career.
    Drop Teixeira down to 5 or 6 until he snaps out of his funk.

    • Dan

      I agree… I think moving Jeter to 2 gives you two guys at the top of the lineup that can really work the count. Also, with Gardner on first it opens up more of a hole between 1st and 2nd for Jeter to hit through. I would probably move Granderson to 5 and Swisher down to 6 just so you have a more dangerous hitter behind Cano to provide some protection. I also think Tex could benefit from having Jeter and Gardner in front of him because if they can get on it takes away from the shift.

      • http://riveraveblues.com Rich

        Since when does Jeter work the count? He swings at the first pitch way too often. If Gardner is on first and doesn’t run on the first pitch, double play Jeter ends the threat! Jeter needs to bat ninth where he belongs. That way no one else in the order is messed with. Of course that’s just a pipe dream cause God forbid Girardi offends the captain even it it is best for the team.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Jeter’s 3.82 P/PA is 79th best in baseball among 153 qualifiers. Middle of the pack; not good, not bad.

  • smurfy

    Mike, you may have underrated him because of his unusual humilit, that lets him ignore how it looks, and goes for what works, instead. Remember that liner homer he hit last year? He could do that once in a while, but, no, he chooses to slash because of the higher success rate on weak opposite field hits.

    Jeter always did a lot of this, too.

  • GoGo Platter

    I remember as Gardner came up, he followed a similar pattern at each level. He struggled in his first trial with the level, only to even out as he went along. Gardner could be a great case for why the scouting reports don’t show anything. There’s no stats for GRIT!!

    • dutchsailor

      But the scouting report did show exactly what you said. He struggled a bit at each level, and then learned to adapt and succeed. The problem was not the scouting report. The problem was believing that he could do the same thing at the major league level.

    • steve s

      Excellent point to remember and apply to future prospects as well. Gardner’s ability to adjust at every level and then perform well at that level (and I think this was the same pattern he had in college also) was key to predicting his success with the Yankees. One continuing problem that he will have during his career (and there really is no way to protect against it) is that he’s susceptible to getting pretty dinged-up because of his all-out base-running and outfield play and when dinged-up his game does goes very south for awhile.

    • http://twitter.com/waybj Brandon W

      I have to imagine this is a pretty normal pattern with prospects in general, no? It may be more exaggerated with Gardner, but rare is the prospects who just dominates every level until the majors.

      Certainly there are prospects that excel after promotions and such, but wouldn’t you realistically expect a prospect being promoted to struggle for a little bit while they adjust? That’s part of why there are so many minor league levels, to let the players adjust a step at a time; this is what baseball is about.

  • David, Jr.

    Can’t say enough about him. The best outfielder that I have seen in a Yankee uniform. If you did a YouTube of his highlight catches from the last two seasons, it would last one half hour. Also a great offensive player, with skills that are a perfect complement to our muscle guys.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Can’t say enough about him. The best outfielder that I have seen in a Yankee uniform.

      http://27.media.tumblr.com/tum.....o1_400.jpg

      (I won’t go further back than that, because I assume you’re under the age of 30.)

      • pat

        It’s blocked here at work, but I assume that’s a picture of Rueben Sierra.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Raul Mondesi, World’s Fattest Centerfielder.

      • http://twitter.com/AnaMariana42 Ana

        To not remember Bernie you’d have to be under 13.

        • Ted Nelson

          I think he was saying the best defensive OF.

          • http://twitter.com/AnaMariana42 Ana

            If so, that’s completely valid. Gardner’s super elite in that regard.

      • David, Jr.

        Has anybody before had defensive ratings like Gardy’s? Highest that I have seen, and the eye test confirms that for me.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Andruw Jones in his prime was otherwordly.

          Dude has a career +274.0 UZR/TZ.

          • David, Jr.

            Thanks. I meant Yankees, but didn’t know that.

            • TMiller30

              He is a Yankee ;)

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              Oh, if you mean “The best DEFENSIVE outfielder that I have seen in a Yankee uniform.”, it’s probably Gardner, yeah. The other truly great defenders would be guys like Roy White and Joe DiMaggio, guys before our time.

              • steve s

                Roy was smooth but threw like Johnny Damon.

              • http://RAB Nuke LaDoosh

                Winfield…but I’m older than you.

                • Hugh

                  Winfield was a quality athlete with an unbelievable arm, but didn’t exactly hustle about the field when I watched him around ’84.

      • pete

        this guy’s pretty good, too: http://multimedia.heraldintera.....052010.jpg

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    I’ve been following the minor leagues for quite some time now, and I’ve been wrong about a lot of players, in both a good way and bad way.

    Carsten Sabathia? That fat lard-ass will never amount to squat. Horrible conditioning; clearly, he’s more interested in eating than devoting time to perfecting his craft.

    Cleveland wasted a premium pick, they should have taken someone with some pop like Rice’s stud OF Bubba Crosby or UCLA’s Eric Valent, both of whom were still on the board at #20. Those guys have “future All-Star” written all over them. John Hart screwed up big-time.

    Sincerely,
    1998

    • TMiller30

      Is that real? Cause that’s awesome. haha

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        No, I’m just goofing.

    • http://twitter.com/AnaMariana42 Ana

      Mike Piazza? Nepotism nepotism nepotism nepotism!

      Truly,
      1988

      _______

      Dear 1988,

      You were wrong, but he’s tooooootally gay.

      Best wishes,
      2002

      ________

      Dear 2002,

      Don’t make me hold a press conference.

      Sincerely,
      Mike Piazza

  • Zach

    Should/Will the Yankees sign him to a long term deal?

  • Douglas John Bowen

    Mr. Kabak, you get credit for acknowledging that you misjudged someone’s potential. I hesitate to use the pejorative “wrong,” but you’re to be commended for noting your perception has been adjusted. Too few sports analysts do this, and too seldom.

    • pat

      Mike too, right?

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

        I don’t get how people mess this up. Our names are right under the headline.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          I was not elected to read, I WAS ELECTED TO LEAD!

        • Crime Dog

          Kid can’t even READ

        • http://twitter.com/#!/billreichmann breich315

          Whatever Mike.

  • I Voted 4 Kodos

    Gardner has probably become my favorite Yankee in the last few years. He’s a blast to watch in the field and on the bases and has already given the Yankees more in those few years than most people would have expected from his entire career. It’s always fun to watch homegrown players develop, but there’s something extra fun about watching someone who was never truly a top prospect develop into one of the best outfielders in all of baseball. I love that he went from walking on at a smaller college to becoming one of the Yankees’ best players.

  • jon

    yep I was totally wrong too

    i remember clamoring for melky to be put back in the line up over gardner when the both were on the team

  • Samuel

    I have watched Gardner since 2005 from his days for Staten Island in the NY Penn League. He made some unbelievable catches that year and you can tell that he and Ellsbury (also in that league) were two dymnamic players who would impact their parent teams if they were allowed to get significant time.

    Gardner actually outhomered Ellsbury that first pro season.

    What is amazing about Gardner’s play during his pro career is that he struggled at a level when first promoted, but when he started the nexst season at that same level, Gardner dominated and was promoted higher. This cycle began in Trenton and continued even up to his major league career.

    Also, Gardner has many rings from his pro playing days as most of the minor league teams he played for won their division and three won their league titles and then the 2009 World Series title.

    Where are all the “Yankees have to get Carl Crawford” people now?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Where are all the “Yankees have to get Carl Crawford” people now?

      They’re demanding that the Yankees have to get Felix Hernandez, Carlos Beltran, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Prince Fielder.

      Next week.

      • ChrisS

        I will demand that Yankees get Felix Hernandez until his arm falls off. The others, including Sir Carl, meh.

      • Samuel

        Very good point, TSJC.

  • Sayid J.

    Did anyone else besides me notice that Gardner always struggled in the beginning of his stint at any given level, but then always made adjustments and succeeded the following year? I find it hard to believe nobody has mentioned this yet…

    • pat

      Someone mentioned it earlier in this thread.

  • spark

    I’m probably a little older than most people on here. I’m 41. I remember the game before the offensive explosion of the 1990’s. For that reason, I always felt that there was place for Gardner in the game. I didn’t know he would be this good, but I hoped he would at least get a chance.

    • Yankeegirl49

      I am older than you…and agree!

  • first time lawng time

    Gardner’s been solid. A nice litle player they’ve got.

  • Crime Dog

    So am I the only one who thinks Gardner still has some untapped power and can be a 15 HR guy especially in YS3? Or maybe I’m just drooling over the possibility of 280/380/450 with that speed and defense

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Yeah, probably. If you look at Gardner’s comparable players, none of them really became double-digit HR guys.

      I could see Gardner having a year when he’s locked in at hits 15 in a season (YCPB), but I’d never expect it to become a regular occurence.

    • spark

      i don’t think he needs to hit 15 hrs. i’d rather he hit 5 hrs a year, with 35 doubles and 15 triples, steal 50 bases, walk 100 times, and hit .280. Just doing that he’d score 130-140 runs. Add in his defense and you’re talking a legitimate MVP candidate.

      • James

        Can you imagine an MVP with only 5-7 HRs? I think some of the writers’ heads would explode trying to come to terms with voting for Gardner… which would be awesome.

        • Phil Rizzuto

          Sure can.

          • DCBX

            /holy cow’d

            +1

  • Stuckey

    May I suggest instead of mea culpas, you should apply this lesson to the NEXT prospect you’re inclined to build a ceiling over before he’s had a couple of years in the Majors.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Screw that, let’s just keep making the same analytical mistakes. It makes life more interesting.

      Kennedy, Hughes, and Chamberlain all suck. None of them will ever figure it out or amount to shit.

      Q.E.D.

      • Damix

        Might as well trade any prospect that sniffs the top 100 list. That’s how you get value.

  • Yankeegirl49

    When I am waiting at the Staten Island Ferry to get to the games, I talk baseball with a cop at the ferry who is a big Yankee fan. He absolutely hates Gardner and has been saying for 2 years that he isnt even a 4th OF. When he struggled at the beginning of the season, I was told his days were numbered, which of course I disputed. He then offered a bet…bet me 10 bucks that Gardner would not hit over .240. I asked him to make it 20 or even 50, but he kept it at 10. I havent seen him in a few weeks…but looking forward to giving him a big ” I told ya so” ..and collecting my 10 bucks in Oct.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Don’t get arrested.

      • Yankeegirl49

        If I am getting arrested it’s gonna be for something better than that!

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Hey now!

  • NC Saint

    Not to pile on while you’re doing a good job of calling yourself out, but you were rewrong about him earlier this season when you got so angry about his poor start stealing bags.

    As obvious blips due for regression to the mean go, they don’t get much more obvious than Gardner suddenly transforming into the worst base runner in the game.

    • vin

      Isn’t it possible that Brett modified his approach though? Maybe he’s adjusted his lead, or studied the pitchers’ moves more thoroughly. It could’ve been a natural regression, but he may be responsible for it as well.

      • Samuel

        Gardner did not need to make any adjustments.

        Base stealing and base running are just like any other part of the game like hitting, pitching and fielding. Biggest aspect is talent and then confidence in that talent. Over the course of a season, players go through slumps in physical tools and also their confidence.

        Gardner had the talent, but when he was thrown out a few times within a short period of time, he then became hesistant on the bases and his confidence in his base stealing became spotty at best.

        When a players confidence dwindles, he begins to think too much instead of letting his talent dictate his game.

        Then a couple times in a row Gardner made the right decisions, he stole a few more bases and his confidence came back. He began to not overly think about what he was doing, he just went out and did it.

        Nunez is going through the confidence thing now with his fielding. He likely thinks too much between pitches and is hesitant with his hands, then with his throws when he fields the ball cleanly.

        A few good plays in key spots should help Nunez with his confidence and he will get consistenly better.

        • Monteroisdinero

          This. If ability is there, confidence comes with experience and not fearing you’ll be on the bench the next day. Some players improve quicker than others.

        • Ted Nelson

          I disagree. Gardner often attempted to steal when everyone knew he was going to steal. I mean everyone in the stadium and watching knew it was a stealing situation. On top of that he might have had some physical tells that let the opponent know he was going… he got caught in several pitch-out and pick-off situations during that poor stretch. These would all have little to do with his state of mind (confidence) and more mistakes that he needed to make adjustments from.

          Nunez has made a lot of errors for a lot of years. Perhaps confidence will help bring it down from this ridiculously high rate… but I think it’s more than confidence there as well. Nunez made 30+ errors multiple times in the minors, so I’m not sure why a few key plays now would suddenly change that. I think he can change it, but I don’t think it’ll be a couple of key plays that change it.

          • Samuel

            “I disagree.”

            Of course you do. You pretty much argue and diagree with everyone on here.

            Confidence is a huge part of playing the game, whether it is getting jumps on steal attempts, fielding a ground ball and making hte throw or walking up to the plate to hit in a key situation.

            If you believe any different, then it is apparent you never played the game at any decent level.

            And Nunez’ defense was very good last year in Triple A and he cut down on his errors quite a bit.

        • Adam Parker

          No, Nunez is just bad at this game.

  • vin

    One interesting thing about Gardner is his age. He’s 27 now (will be 28 in Aug). His pre-arbitration years were ’09, ’10, and ’11. Which means he’ll be under team control until the end of his age 30 season.

    At what age to players like Brett start to tail off? Looks like nearly all of his B-R comp’s are from guys who played in the Ruth-Dimaggio eras. Perhaps Juan Pierre is his best comp among active players? He’s been pretty steady

    I wonder if the Yanks will just let him walk after age 30, or if they’d consider breaking tradition and buying out some arbitration years for a year or two of his FA years (ALA Cano).

  • vin

    One interesting thing about Gardner is his age. He’s 27 now (will be 28 in Aug). His pre-arbitration years were ’09, ’10, and ’11. Which means he’ll be under team control until the end of his age 30 season.

    At what age to players like Brett start to tail off? Looks like nearly all of his B-R comp’s are from guys who played in the Ruth-Dimaggio eras. Perhaps Juan Pierre is his best comp among active players?

    I wonder if the Yanks will just let him walk after age 30, or if they’d consider breaking tradition and buying out some arbitration years for a year or two of his FA years (ALA Cano).

    • Ted Nelson

      “or if they’d consider breaking tradition and buying out some arbitration years for a year or two of his FA years”

      That’s a good thought.

    • spark

      One thing about Gardner though is, he isn’t built like your typical little speed guy. He’s solid. He’s not built like a little punch & judy spray hitter. I could see him being productive into his mid 30’s.

    • Dan

      I think Damon would be a better comparison than Pierre. Damon has still managed to have some value, so even at 30 I think Gardner could get a 5-6 year deal, though he would be less productive towards the end of the deal so it would be ideal to buy out some of his free agent years, but they don’t do that too often so I wouldn’t expect it.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Damon remained productive into his 30s because he had plenty of power to supplement his speed.

        Damon’s power >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Gardner’s power

        • Dan

          It could be that. To me Damon has remained productive because of his ability to see a lot of pitches, work counts, get on base. Gardner reminds me a lot of Damon in that respect, in just being a very pesky hitter. Gardner is a much better base stealer and Damon does have more power. However, Damon didn’t really show 20+ homerun power until after he turned 30.

          • mr.jigginz

            Coming up in the system,I heard a few people mention his ceiling could be Brett Butler…I liked that comparison then and,so far,I’ve seen nothing from his game that makes me stray from it.

  • http://unclemikesmusings.blogspot.com Uncle Mike

    I don’t know about all these newfangled stats, or how they explain how Gardner has gotten better. But I do know that Gardner’s hot streak is helping the Yankees win, and that’s what matters.

    I said a few weeks ago that the Yankee should keep Jeter in the leadoff position until a better option is available. At the time, I said Gardner was not a better option. Maybe he is now.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I don’t know about all these newfangled stats, or how they explain how Gardner has gotten better. But I do know that Gardner’s hot streak is helping the Yankees win, and that’s what matters.

      I read this comment with the voice of Cirroc, Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer in my mental ear.

  • Crime Dog

    My 3 favorite Yankees right now are Robertson Gardner and Grandy. Which is awesome because they’re 3 of the best players on the team. And I usually have a soft spot for the crappier Yanks. So what Im saying is, thanks for not sucking guys

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      And I usually have a soft spot for the crappier Yanks.

      Do you want to come to my celebration of Andy Stankiewicz’s 47th birthday this August 10th? I’m getting a cake with nine candles on it to commemorate Stanky’s nine stolen bases in 1992.

      • Crime Dog

        Can’t make it that day: The Homer Bush and CJ Nitkowski fan clubs have their annual conventions that weekend

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          I’ll save you a slice.

          • Crime Dog

            I have a bad feeling that the cake will be all too similiar to Stanky’s career. Alot left to be desired.

  • Skip

    I remember when Brett Gardner first came up to the big leagues in 2007 during the summer. There was this article in the NY Times written by Tyler Kepner about how dynamic BG is. In his first at bat, Gardner grounded to second and nearly beat the throw to first (still an out). The crowd went wild cheering him on that ground out.

    With that said, I love watching him play.

    • Damix

      I remember Abreu doing the same thing on his first AB as a Yankee

  • sleepykarl

    Since the beginning of last year, Gardner has a higher WAR than Pujols in ~100 less PAs. His glove is also worth 7 wins more than Kemp’s in that time period, and 1.5 wins over the second best fielder (all positions).

  • ansky

    I feel the same way about Gardner. There were times I had an irrational dislike for him. I never was a fan of the slap hitting speed guy. His baserunning ability in relation to speed drove me nuts.
    However, when you watch him you realize his value. I too will admit my mistake, though just not to my wife because she will make fun of me for complaining about him and now raving about him.
    I feel better now that I have cleansed my soul!

  • vin

    According to B-R, Brett is the 6th most valuable player drafted in 2005 (tied with Ellsbury of course).

    Tulo
    Braun
    Zimmerman (Ryan)
    Yunel Escobar (he’s from Cuba, didn’t know he was drafted)
    McCutchen

    Ahead of Garza, Justin Upton, Buccholz, Romero, Gordon, Rasmus, and Bruce.

    • Ted Nelson

      That’s not possible because the Yankees are the worst drafting team and they didn’t even realize they were drafting Dante Jr and not Sr… if you do not draft based on what Baseball America and Keith Law think you are doomed to fail… lol.

      I really don’t see how people can criticize Oppenheimer’s drafting record, yet around the draft there were dozens of people complaining that the Yankees “can’t draft.”

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Yunel Escobar (he’s from Cuba, didn’t know he was drafted)

      Escobar defected from Cuba to Miami in ’06. Since he defected directly to the US, he had to enter paperwork to go into the draft. In order to be an FA, he would have had to defect to somewhere outside the auspices of the Rule 4 draft (like how Aroldis Chapman defected in the Netherlands).

    • pat

      Rasmus and Bruce are both 3 years younger. I wouldn’t write them off yet.

      • vin

        Of course not… or Upton for that matter.

  • David, Jr.

    I think Ted or somebody has posted this before, but the entire outfield is the result of outstanding management:

    Gardner – developed, home grown.
    Swisher – excellent trade.
    Granderson – trade that benefitted both sides, but we got what we wanted.

  • Michael Mirabella

    I don’t know if I missed something but what’s with Martin and the facial hair?

  • Tags

    Mike, glad to see you admit your mistake about what kind of player Gardner would be. Having seen him in Trenton during his time there I loved the way he played the game. His speed was always a game changer, whether it was stealing a base, singling on an infield hit or taking an extra base. We always thought any ball it towards him would always be caught. Glad people and seeing now what we always believed!

  • gc

    My favorite Brett Gardner moment:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play......9&v=3

    The way the crowd builds intensity as he rounds the bases gives me chills every time. MAN, he is fast!

    • http://twitter.com/AnaMariana42 Ana

      Yesss that is so good! And also his “and what” face after he slid into home.

  • YankeesJunkie

    I am still eating crow about Gardner. Since he was in AAA I thought at best he would be a 4th OF for defensive replacement and pinch running. However, he has developed into an elite outfielder. The only thing that would make him more entertaining would be seeing him play him in a big field like Florida or Comerica to see him cover more ground and get more triples. However, just great Gardner!

  • Monteroisdinero

    My favorite player to watch for sure-until Jesus starts mashing for us. Love how he gets hustle doubles, love how he has improved his bunting for hits and love his defense. Hate when there are slow old guys in front of him on the bases (yes you Jorge and Andruw) to turn his triples into doubles and doubles into singles.

    I first saw him in ST in 2006 running sprints in the of-I was amazed how he outran everybody else.

    If and when he leads off and Jeter bats 2nd, the next big issue will be when to steal/hit and run/stay out of the gidp/have Jeter take etc. A whole new can of worms.

    Last night on his second steal he never looked at home plate-head down/straight steal. Loved it.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      He’s like Greg Golson, but good!

      Right, buddy!

      • Monteroisdinero

        off topic as usual with the Golson reference. Come on Tommy-Golson will have his thread someday.

    • David, Jr.

      He is taking a smaller lead, and it is really helping him. Before, his lead was so big that he was always half assed going back to first. Now, he isn’t afraid of getting picked off, and when he decides to go he has all of his momentum going forward. It has made a major difference.

      • Monteroisdinero

        Good point. He can simply outrun the baseball on a straight steal with his head down and the batter taking or faking a bunt or whatever. It has to be a fastball in a good location, a righty batter and a perfect throw to get him. Not very likely.

        2 better thread titles:

        The Great Brettsky
        The Great Gritsky

        Feel free to use anytime.

  • Nick

    well said

  • Klemy

    An article about Gardner without using the words gritty OR gutty? I didn’t think it was possible. Nice write up.

    • Sean C

      You forgot “speedy.” I won’t let this slide because is permanently affixed to his name by announcers.

  • gcx

    Glad this site and maybe the league has finally seen Brett Gardner for what he is – a hustler, really good prospect from the Yankees own system – and a winner.

    As usual, just took a little time – but I think we know that just about any team in the league would love to have this guy as a player and teammate.

    I am not huge fan of what I call “extended stats” (the type of sabermetrics often used or pointed to on the RAB website) – but I did watch some of Brett’s play (on video) when he was in the minors, and earlier on when he was first called up — and did something Mike said he could not…

    I saw a winner – right out the gate. There’s an old saying that you can always see a real winner (a loser – that’s somewhat harder…) right out of the gate. I knew Gardner had it. And I don’t think he is done improving yet.

    He has definitely improved on defense (taking good routes, etc, – not just about speed…) Even his arm is above average. It’s going to be nice to have a guy there – year in and year out – who gets on base consistently, steals 40-50 bases (maybe more), creates runs himself, and wears out pitchers by simply making them throw more pitches[
    "Only six players have seen more than the 4.25 pitches Gardner sees in an average plate appearance this year. I also underrated his ability to work the count"].