With the lack of power in the New York Yankees’ lineup, it has become clear that Brett Gardner will play a very important role on this year’s team. The Yankees will rely on him and his speed to generate runs by playing some small-ball. So what numbers can we realistically expect from Gardner in the 2013 season?
In this article, four key components will be analyzed: batting average, home runs, RBIs, and stolen bases.
If you have been following Spring Training games, then you know that Gardner has been going on a hitting rampage. Through 12 games, he is hitting a whopping .364, and has shown no signs of slowing down. Assuming Gardner can hit just as well during the regular season, then the Yankees are in for a nice surprise.
In the three years that Gardner has played in more than 100 games, the highest he has ever hit has been .277 back in 2010. However, Gardner is older and more experienced now, and seems to have added a new aggressiveness to his style of play. This will bode well for the 29-year-old, as it will allow him to attack more while he’s at the plate.
Despite him never hitting over .277, I am going to go out on a limb and say that he hits .302 this year. Call it a hunch, but I think Gardner is due for a huge breakout season at the plate.
Gardner is obviously not relied upon to hit home runs – it’s just not his thing. Therefore, nobody should expect him to even reach double digits in home runs this year. If Gardner can get a hold of a pitch and drive one out, then kudos to him, but it simply isn’t his job to be a power guy. The most home runs that he has ever hit in a season was seven back in 2011. I think we’ll see a number around there, but with his new-found aggressiveness, I’ll actually predict eight home runs.
This is where it can get tricky. The amount of RBIs that Gardner will have depends on where he bats in the lineup. If he bats at the top, then he is relied upon to get on base and create opportunities for runs, not drive them in. If he bats down at the bottom, then he will get more opportunities to drive in runners while still creating more opportunities.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Gardner bats in the bottom third of the order.
Gardner drove in 47 runners in 2010, which has been his highest total to date. However, he spent a lot of time bouncing between batting first and batting last, so that could have caused his total to take a hit. A consistent spot in the lineup for Gardner – last in this case – will allow his total to be higher. So I would assume that 57 RBIs isn’t too far-fetched.
Ah yes, this is where Gardner will truly show his importance to the Yankees. There is no denying that Gardner is one of the fastest runners in the game, and he uses his talent to his advantage on the basepaths. In 2010 and 2011, Gardner stole 47 and 49 bases, respectively. Assuming that Gardner gets on base more due to the higher batting average, that number can be expected to go up. Gardner is not afraid to run, and when he sees a prime opportunity, he will rob another team blind. It will be a very good year for Gardner on the basepaths, as will be evidenced by him stealing 60 bases.
Totals: .302/ 8 HR/ 57 RBI/ 60 SB
Call me optimistic, or call me crazy, but Gardner will be one of the Yankees’ most important players in the upcoming season, so assuming he stays healthy, these numbers can be expected of the speedy outfielder.