Brett Gardner should be the next captain of the New York Yankees
By Matthew Orso
Recent weeks have brought upon the remembrance of once-great captains. Former Yankees captain Derek Jeter was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday. Also, Captain Jean-Luc Picard has returned to the Star Trek Universe in “Star Trek: Picard.”
In light of Derek Jeter being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, isn’t it time for the Yankees to name a new captain? I think it is, and I know who should be the next man to take the mantle as captain of the Yanks. Also, in an ironic twist of words, Mickey Mantle was never a captain for the Bronx Bombers.
Brett Gardner is the longest-tenured Yankee, having made his pinstriped debut in June 2008. He is the only member of New York’s 2009 World Series championship team still on the roster.
Despite being 36-years old, Gardy is coming off his best season with the Bombers. He set career-highs in home runs (28), RBIs (74), and OPS (.829). In fact, Gardy became just the third Yankee in his age-35 season or older to hit at least 25 home runs and steal at least 10 bases. Only Babe Ruth (1930) and Gary Sheffield (2005) had previously done so.
Sure, 10 stolen bases aren’t much for Gardner when you consider he’s stolen 267 in his career. However, only two players have more in franchise history — Derek Jeter (358) and Rickey Henderson (328).
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New York needs a captain who’s had longevity with the club. Gardner is one game shy of his 1500th career game with the Yankees. He would become just the 18th player in franchise history to play at least 1500 games.
Think about it this way: Gardy’s played in more games as a Yankee than legends like Elston Howard (1,492), Paul O’Neill (1,254) and Tino Martinez (1,054).
Granted, the Yanks don’t “need” a captain. They didn’t have one for nearly 40 years between Lou Gehrig and Thurman Munson. However, I think it’s important to reward the man who has spent years leading the Yankees.
I know fans want to give this post to Aaron Judge or Gleyber Torres — two players they hope will lead in the Bronx for years to come. And I’m sure one of them will be captain one day.
But, it’s time to reward the current leader of this club. Gardner isn’t getting any younger. He recently signed a one-year, $12.5 million deal with the Yankees with a club option for 2021.
There’s no guarantee, though, that the Yanks will bring Gardner back beyond the 2020 season. For at least one year, let’s reward this Yankee-lifer.
We just watched Eli Manning leave the Giants after 16 Hall of Fame seasons. Don’t get wrong; I’m not saying Gardy is a Hall of Famer. He is, however, one of the great Yankees of recent memory and deserves his time as captain. Picard’s got nothing on Gardner.