Yankees 2011 Season in Review: Brett Gardner

Even though he was drafted in the third round of the playoffs, Brett Gardner was never a highly touted prospect. The College of Charleston product worked his way through the system nonetheless and was in the major leagues to stay by the 2009 season. He was a regular outfielder the following year and good enough that Brian Cashman cited him as justification to not pursue All-Star Carl Crawford last offseason.

EXPECTATIONS: The reason why the Yankees didn’t go after Crawford is because Gardner had far exceeded expectations the year before. He had to repeat that though otherwise fans would have turned on him and Cashman too.

SLOW START: Gardner didn’t make things easy on himself as he hit just .145 with a .197 OBP and .503 OPS over the first 20 games. His defense was strong throughout, but it did carry over to his base running as he stole 13 bases, but was caught nine times.

STRONG SUMMER: For a 104 game stretch from the end of April to the middle of August, Gardner had a .389 OBP with an .828 OPS. He was also 33-for-41 on the base paths all while providing some of the best defense in baseball.

COLD FINISH: He was really on his way to having a very impressive season, but over the final 40 games he really slowed down. He had a .281 OBP and a .527 OPS. Unlike in the beginning of the season though, he was an impressive 13-for-15 on the bases.

PLAYOFFS: Perhaps it just shows that small samples are just silly, but after playing so terribly in September he was one of the best in October. Against the Tigers he had a .444 OBP and a .915 OPS.

DEFENSIVELY SUPERIOR: Gardner provides most of his value through his amazing defense. His 25.2 UZR was the highest in all of baseball. He was denied a Gold Glove, but that just shows how poor the award is as Gardner won a Fielding Bible Award and has cultivated a reputation as one of, if not the best, defensive players in the game.

VERDICT: Overall it was a very good season for Gardner despite the cold spells. As he gets older he may become more consistent and develop into an even better player. He would have made Cashman look smart even if Crawford had put together a good year.

GOING FORWARD: Gardy isn’t a free agent until after the 2014 season. He will be in their starting lineup the entire time if he isn’t traded. His unique abilities and cheap salary make him attractive as a big piece in a trade. Cashman has already confirmed that teams have called about him this offseason. However, with Nick Swisher set to become a free agent after next season it makes long term sense for the Yankees to hold on to him.

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5 Responses to Yankees 2011 Season in Review: Brett Gardner

  1. Bronx_Knight says:

    Thanks for this piece highlighting Gardy. I'm a big fan. Now, if he could just learn how to lay down a flippin' bunt, he would top 200 hits a year and would hit over .300.

  2. Tanned Tom says:

    I too have always been a Gardner fan. I love it that a guy with no power can still put up a good OBP. And I especially love his work ethic, he's working with Kevin Long this off season to improve his mechanics. Great speed, great defense, great attitude ( I never see him not run hard down to first), I wish we had 2 more just like him.

  3. Bernard Sandow says:

    Yes, Gardner is an excellent fielder. His stolen base totals are excellent as well, although he could even be better if his instincts improve. Gardner, you are a minor league hitter. I hope you prove me wrong in 2012. You seem to be at a 2 strike count almost every at bat. Wake up and stop taking too many strikes. Good luck.

  4. Tony says:

    If one really looks at Gardner's 2011 season you will see that every time he got hot at the plate, Joe Girardi decided he needed to sit for a few games. Girardi it seems only has the ability to look at percentages of righty/lefty pitchers against righty/lefty hitters Of all the starters on the Yankees in 2011, Garardi only used this idiotic system on Gardner. He never platooned A-Rod or Jeter or anyone else.

  5. Joe says:

    This man has overcame a lot to get where he is today including his small size and the fact that he started his career at College of Charleston as a walk-on. A walk-on becoming a very good MLB player is an amazing feat…..I'm willing to bet Brett is the only one in MLB.