Yankees: Can we please give Brett Gardner some credit?

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /

Last season, Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner‘s days in pinstripes seemed numbered. He has since done a complete 180 and has been one of the Yankees’ most productive players.

Brett Gardner gets a little too much flack from Yankees fans. He has consistently been the dead horse that everyone seems to beat on, even when he doesn’t deserve it. I don’t think it would be outrageous to suggest that Gardner, next to Aaron Judge, has been the team’s most valuable player.

When your ace is looking like a bottom of the rotation pitcher and the rest of your pitching staff is pretty foul, it’s up to the offense to win you games. And that’s just exactly what the Yankees hitting has done for the team’s success.

If the Yankees weren’t hitting this year, and making some impressive comebacks to boot, this team would be on par with the worst of the AL East.

Brett Gardner is the best option the Yankees have in left field, and it will stay that way.

But, thankfully, that isn’t the case with this team. Gardner has been a big part of this offense that has consistently hit well this season. He should even be considered the most significant turnaround on the team as his stats are already greatly improved over what he produced last season.

Let’s Look at the Stats

Gardner the last few seasons has put up some relatively unimpressive numbers regarding batting average. It was up last year from the previous two seasons, but it was still well below .300.

This year he’s hitting .269, up from .261, which is still not impressive but it is a bit improved. In all fairness, he’s only ever hit over .300 one season, and that was five years ago.

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Where Gardy has considerably improved is his slugging percentage. Prior seasons, he’s been well below a .400 percentage. This year, however, he’s boasting an impressive .518 slugging percentage, which is the highest he’s had in his career. His home runs total is also up this year.

Last year, he hit a measly seven home runs by season’s end. To date, he’s already hit 12 and has a decent chance of tying his highest ever, which is 17 home runs. His on-base percentage has always been decent, and it’s right around his average this year.

He put up only 41 RBIs last season, whereas this year he’s already driven in 26 and counting. Stats-wise, Gardner has already improved on what was considered a bad season last year; and there’s still lots of time to grow even more.

How Long Will This Success Last?

Gardner is an unpredictable player. We don’t know how long he’s going to keep this up. May was his best month offensively so far, and he seems to be back in good graces amongst Yankees fans. However, I would only assume he’s on a short leash and the minute he starts to struggle again the trade rumors will resurface.

Speaking of trade rumors, this is where the Yankees are at a crossroads with him. They have him signed through next year at $13 million with a team option for the 2019 season. While it’s easy to suggest it may be wise to trade him while his value is high, you’re not going to replace him easily.

Based on batting average alone, he’s 8th among 17 other left fielders in the entire MLB. That would place him above the likes of Alex Gordon and Justin Upton. If the Yankees were to trade Gardner, they wouldn’t find a replacement that’s playing better that would come cheap.

Then, the only other option is to bring up a prospect such as Clint Frazier. But, why do that when he’s unproven in the MLB, and the Yankees are poised to make the playoffs?

The Bottom Line

Don’t trade Gardner. He’s far more valuable to the Yankees right now than whatever he would bring back in a trade. A trade involving him anyways would most likely be a salary dump, especially if he were hitting as bad or worse than last season.

If they are ever going to unload him, it may be wiser to wait until the offseason to see what prospects can replace him. If, of course, that is the path the Yankees want to take with him.

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Truthfully, Gardner isn’t getting the praise or credit he deserves. He still has detractors, albeit much less than last season, who are going to question his production. But, he’s the best option the Yankees have in left field, and it will stay that way.

He’s not nearly been given enough props for his turnaround this season thus far, and that’s a bit unfair. He’s arguably been one of the Yankees’ offensively consistent players, among the likes of Holliday and Judge.

And, moreover, if Gardy can keep contributing and perhaps even bring the team to the promised land, it doesn’t matter what he’s done in previous seasons.