How can any Yankees fan not pull for Gardy? He has had to prove it everywhere he has played and earned his playing time. And he earned it with an aggressive style of play. He was only a walk-on in college and the 109th draft pick in 2005. But by 2010 his risk-taking made him a star for the Yankees. Gardner slashed .277/.383/.379 and scored 97 runs. And he wreaked havoc on the base paths when he stole 47.
We didn’t know it then, but that would be his best year.
Brett followed that with another good year in 2011 but with a diminution in most of his numbers. He hit .259/.345/.369 and scored 87 runs. But one number that did improve slightly was stolen bases, which went up to 49, his highest total to date. Excellence in one area, in this case, aggressive base running, can substantially lift a player’s significance.
2012, however, had proven to be the turning point in his career when his aggressive nature betrayed him. Gardy went hard for a ball on April, 17th and dived to make the play; he would miss the rest of the season.
Are You Reading This, Jorge Mateo?
It seems to have shifted Brett’s mindset. He would never again even approach his old stolen base totals. His totals from 2013 to last year show a different player: 24, 21, 20 and 16. Instead, Gardy has focused on hitting for power as his slugging jumped into the .400’s for the first time in his career and stayed there for three years.
But his arms could never offset his below-average average, as his legs did in 2011. And now Brett Gardner has a problem. Unlike Ellsbury, Gardy has a young Yankees left fielder behind him who looks ready to produce at the big league level: Clint Frazier. Clint sounds like a big part of the next offensive machine and is contributing across all the columns. He’s batting .313, he’s got both a home run and a stolen base, along with 7 RBI’s; Clint’s also scored six times.
If he hadn’t come into camp a bit too pumped up, he might be threatening to take left field right now. But he looks like might go to Scranton in body only; his presence will be on the field, every night, at Yankees Stadium. And every time Brett grounds into a double play, or strikes out in a big situation, the Ghost of Clint Frazier will be felt.
Yankees Under Pressure
That’s why Brett Gardner needed to show he can play at a high level. Spring training numbers mean nothing and the least important is wins. And Gardy can still go out and have a monster season; we have to wait for the games to count. But Gardy always plays hard and is no Ryan Braun. He always tries to do his best.
And for those reasons, his production has to be a big disappointment. He is hitting .194. His OBP is all of .216. And worst of all he has stolen exactly zero bases. He is neither hitting nor running as well as Frazier. Gardy has to be the biggest disappointment in Yankees camp, perhaps signaling it will be his last with the Yankees.