Season In Review: Brett Gardner
The New York Yankees are all about power, hence the nickname “The Bronx Bombers.” They did have some speed in the past with Ricky Henderson & Alfonso Soriano but the Yankees weren’t sure what they were going to receive from 5’10, South Carolina native Brett Gardner. They signed him in 2005 and he made his debut on June 30, 2008 against the Texas Rangers. The Yankees knew that he was fast but they also knew that he was a singles hitter so he wouldn’t have much power, but in 2011 Brett Gardner made doubters into believers as he rose to the top with his defense and speed.
Brett Gardner’s season may have ended (almost) like a fairy tale, but it started like
a nightmare. Gardner couldn’t buy a hit even if he tried, and in the beginning of the season he was caught stealing constantly. Gardner was hitting an abysmal .194 average in the month of April. But when the calendar turned to May, Gardner’s bat changed. Soon it was almost impossible to get him to ground out or fly out, and Gardner was having fun on the base paths having stolen 22 consecutive stolen bases throughout that time period. Gardner had batted .301 in May, .317 in June and .289 in July. Then Gardner started going down again as the season ended, batting a .226 average in August & a .219 average in September. But when Gardner was needed the most, he delivered and that was in the postseason.
Gardner was one of the 3 Yankees who showed some offense in the short postseason run (the others being Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada). Gardner put up a batting clinic with a .412 AVG and a .444 OBP.
One place where Gardner never lacked was in the outfield. No matter how bad he was doing on offense, he made up for it with his stellar defensive catches that got fans excited to watch him just track down a baseball. Gardner was so fantastic that he earned himself a Gold Glove nomination. Unfortunately this is where the fairy tale ended for Gardner when he was robbed of a Gold Glove in favor of Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals. But one thing that Gardner did earn was the Fielding Bible award which was bases solely on statistics. Gardner had won the award in 2010 as well as this year. In a recent press conference, Brian Cashman praised the young LF saying that he was “Carl Crawford-like.” I guess the Yankees are glad that they didn’t waste their time with Crawford and put trust in a player that performed better and made less money. How much money? Try approximately #153 million dollars less.
Brett Gardner may not have had the year that he wanted, but he sure played true to himself by having 49 stolen bases (which lead the American League) and a Fielding Bible Award. So to round it off: Is Brett Gardner streaky? Yes. But does he play like the pro that he is? Yes.