The Major League Baseball All-Star Game teams were announced on Tuesday and the New York Yankees had two players named to the team. Dellin Betances and Mark Teixeira were both named to the AL team. But, there is at least one more player who arguably deserves a chance to play in the Summer Classic, that player is Brett Gardner and luckily he is getting one more chance to make the team.
Gardner who has played left and center field this season has been chosen as a nominee for the All-Star Game’s Final Vote. Fans will have a choice to vote for one of five players on the Final Vote ballot. The final vote candidates are Gardner, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, second Brian Dozier, and third baseman Mike Moustakas.
It may seem like Yankee fans should vote for Gardner out of loyalty, but in reality he deserves your vote. In fact, he deserved to be selected a lot earlier in the process. But, in case you aren’t convinced to #VoteGardy here are some reasons why you should.
Gardner is having an All-Star season. Gardner is third in the league in runs scored, fifth in doubles, 10th in on-base percentage and 18th in slugging percentage. He is outslugging players who are known for their power, like Final Vote nominee Yoenis Cespedes. In fact, among American League outfielders, only Mike Trout, Jose Bautista and J.D. Martinez have higher slugging percentages than Gardner.
Jun 21, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (11) fields a ball for an out during the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
In a head to head comparison between the starting left fielder, Kansas City Royals Alex Gordon and Brett Gardner, the ‘hit-man’ comes out on top in almost every category. Gardner has more hits than Gordon (87-65), a higher slugging (.481 compared to .431), a higher OPS (.854- .811) has scored twice as many runs (60-30) and Gordon has only one stolen base, Gardner has 15. Defensively, Gordon wins this battle. Gardner has been losing ground over the years, but his defense is still above average and his speed gives him All-Star range. He also leads Gardner by one in home runs (10-9) and Gordon’s OBP is 7 percentage points higher (.380-.373).
From a strictly baseball perspective, Gardner deserves your Final Vote, But in case you need more convincing. Here are some other reasons why Gardner should be an All- Star.
Mustaches. Gardner started the Yankees rally mustaches. He was the first to grow one and first to declare them as a method to unify the team. This is an example of how Gardner has taken over as one of the team’s leaders and has stepped into the void left by Derek Jeter. You might be saying, “But, I didn’t LIKE the mustaches.” Well, then Gardner is still your man as he was one of the one’s who called for them to be gone when the team suddenly went cold. So, whether you loved or hated the mustaches you can give the credit for their presence and absence to Gardner. Love them or hate them, Gardner is Final Vote worthy either way.
Athleticism. There are a lot of examples I could use here to demonstrate that Gardner is an All-Star athlete. My favorite one comes from a Spring Training game when Gardner jumped over the outfield wall to retrieve Chris Young’s glove. Yes, you read that right. Young was trying to catch a home run when he dropped his glove over the fence. Gardner assessed the situation and gracefully leaped over the fence and retrieved the glove. He tossed over the home run ball, too. Then he scrambled back over the fence to resume play. When asked why did he not wait for a stadium worker or security guard to retrieve the glove, Gardner deadpanned that it was a “pace of game issue” and that if he had not jumped over the fence they would still be standing out there.
Personality. Gardner is Sneaky Funny. If you haven’t watched Gardner’s episode of Mark Teixeira’s now (sadly) defunct web show Foul Territory you need to do that right now. Gardner is hysterical. His Bat Day promo was one of the funniest ads on television during the first part of the season, and his portrayal of in the Yankees reenactment of The Sandlot is hilarious and definitely All-Star Worthy.
Heroics. Gardner is a hero. Yes, the glove story is good, but in 2009 Gardner may have actually saved a young girl’s life by hitting an inside the park homerun. Now, hear me out, here is what happened. In 2009, Gardner made a visit to New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital as a part of a charity program called Project Sunshine. While there he met an 18 year-old Alyssa Esposito who was in need of a heart transplant. After hearing the story of Babe Ruth’s called shot Alyssa approached Gardner and gave him a bracelet made of string saying it would help him hit a home run. The 2015 version of Gardner has some power and this prediction wouldn’t be too shocking, but in 2009 Gardner was not the power hitter he is now. But, baseball works in mysterious ways and the speedy Gardner ended up hitting an inside-the-park home run that night. Alyssa’s family was watching and the home run when they received the news that there was a heart available. Gardner and Alyssa’s family have all said they felt like his home run was a sign that everything was going to be okay.
Role Model. Finally, if you are still unconvinced, consider the story of how Gardner has gone from a walk-on who was cut from his college team to a successful outfielder for the Yankees. Gardner is literally a “good guy” as he won the 2015 “Good Guy Award” from the BBWA. The gritty gutty Brett Gardner is a walking talking example of The American Dream Myth. He is a player that every parent can point to as a source of inspiration and proof that hard work can pay off. That story will be even better if you can add “from walk-on to All-Star” into the mythology. Besides, if the AL wins in a walk-off they will need someone to douse them with gatorade.
For some of us, the All-Star game and its questionable voting results and the controversial idea that this exhibition game can determine home-field advantage in the World Series can overshadow the fact that it is an honor for these players. So who better to honor than Gardner? From his stats, to his character, and team spirit, Gardner is truly All-Star worthy. You can vote through text, email, and twitter.
Please do us all a favor and #VoteGardy !