August 24 – Happy Birthday Brett Gardner
I’m a fan of Brett Gardner. It took me a quite a while to figure that out and I’m still not one hundred percent convinced of it, but as of right now this instant, I’m a fan. He plays the game hard all the time and I absolutely love that. He’s an excellent outfielder who covers massive amounts of ground and that’s huge. He’s New York’s biggest cheerleader and his teammates’ biggest defender. You can tell he loves to play the game and cherishes the privilege.
Now permit me to explain why it has taken me so long to become a full fledged member of the Brett Gardner fan club. Sometimes, not as often as he used to but still sometimes, this guy drives me absolutely crazy. Like when he’s on first base with second base open and he doesn’t attempt to steal early in the count. For a while there, he was striking out way too much for a small-ball specialist. I’ve seen him swing at some horrible full count pitches and he doesn’t seem as willing to accept base-on-balls as he used to be. But he has proven to be a much better hitter than I thought he was and Gardner’s great speed can change the dynamic of a game at any point and forces Yankee opponents to throw lots of hit-able fast balls when he is on the base paths. He has also proven to be a good top-of-the-lineup hitter, though when he used to hit ninth, I thought he was one of the best bottom of the lineup guys in all of baseball.
Hard to believe he turns 31-years-old today and even harder to believe he’s playing in his seventh Yankee campaign already. The Yankees signed him to a five year, $60 million deal before the 2015 season. I thought it was a bit too long and a bit too much money but you know what, Gardner deserves it. There was a time when I thought the Yankees might trade Gardner and try to replace him with a power-hitting corner outfielder, especially after they paid mega bucks to bring Ellsbury to the Bronx. That deal still may happen but as each season passes and Gardner continues to put up his usual solid numbers, it looks more and more like he is going to stay in pinstripes his entire career and that’s not a bad thing.
|162 Game Avg.||162||618||537||92||143||25||8||9||53||36||9||62||116||.267||.348||.395||.744|