It is no secret the New York Yankees have been struggling this year. Despite their current six game-winning streak, the Yankees still sit 5 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East. A large part of the disappointment this season has been due to injuries of stars such as Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. One bright spot in the depleted line-up, however, has been the play of center fielder Brett Gardner.
Gardner, along with Robinson Cano has been putting the team on his back and willing them to victory. At 29 years old, he is having his best season yet, and there is certainly more to come. He is batting a respectable .276, fourth among center fielders in the AL. He ranks fourth in hits (92), third in triples (5), and is tied for second in doubles (22). Gardner’s play of late got him consideration for an All-Star appearance, but it was to avail; he was snubbed from the big game to be held on July 16th, at Citi Field.
“I think he’s worthy of being on the All-Star team,” Joe Girardi said before the rosters were announced on Saturday. “I think he’s had a great first half defensively, offensively. He’s played every day. I believe he’s an All-Star.”
While it was unlikely the fans would have voted Gardner in as an All-Star starter, there was a chance that the coaches and managers, who choose the reserves, may have selected him. Led by Detroit Tigers skipper Jim Leyland, the American League coaching staff decided to go with Nelson Cruz, Alex Gordon and Torii Hunter instead.
Gordon, of the Kansas City Royals and Cruz, of the Texas Rangers are both certainly worthy of the selections. Gordon boasts a .290 batting average, including driving in 46 runs. Cruz has been slugging the ball all season long, hitting 22 homers while driving in 66 runs.
Hunter, however, is not as qualified as Gardner for a reserve spot. While batting a respectable .307 so far this season, Gardner is ahead of Hunter in several statistical categories including triples, stolen bases, walks and slugging percentage.
Not only has he been impressive at the plate, but Gardner’s defense has been stellar as well. He boasts an Ultimate Zone Rating of 6.2, which makes for second-best in the AL among center fielders, only behind the Royals’ Lorenzo Cain.
Even before the rosters were announced, however, Gardner was not focused on his first possible All-Star Game.
“I’m not going to talk about it,” Gardner said. “I was happier earlier in the season when I was hitting .240 but we were winning games.”
Sure, Gardner isn’t an All-Star this year. He may very well not be one next year, or the year after that, or ever. Yet, in the eyes of the Bronx Bombers, their coaching staff and fans, Brett Gardner is unquestionably a New York Yankee All-Star.