2. Brett Gardner
Although he’s currently not under contract for 2022, it’s hard to envision a world where Brett Gardner doesn’t occupy the end of the Yankees’ bench this season — especially after recent comments he made where he confirmed he’d return to MLB in ’22 and would greatly prefer to do so with the Bombers.
Hint, hint, wink.
If Gardy returns to New York, it’ll A) prove this team never had a plan for constructing their new-look roster, instead tripping ass backwards into yet another season of … this and B) it had better be his last season, considering a ban on the shift could send him further into retirement.
In 143 plate appearances (31.5% of his total) with the shift on in 2021, Gardner posted a .345 wOBA, roughly equivalent to what Giancarlo Stanton put up during his shiftless appearances. Truly tops among Yankees offensive players.
In 311 without the shift? A rough .282 wOBA, greatly bringing down his overall numbers.
That makes sense too, right? Gardner is a classic old-school ballplayer, one of very few modern Yankees who you could theoretically count on to hit the ball to all fields and make an opposing team pay for shifting wildly around the infield. Once Gardner doesn’t have a clean shot to poke the ball into left field, skating harmlessly past empty space, his profile becomes less effective.
All the more incentive to make 2022 his official farewell tour.