Brett Gardner’s poor second half last year contributed to the New York Yankees’ decline, and much of the same output has been hampering the team of late.
However, his .302/.377/.484 first half slash quickly turned into .206/.300/.292 as the Yankees severely faltered near the end.
Gardner was clearly banged up, worn out, you name it. Long story short, people were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. This year, fans may be quicker to jump on his struggles.
A hot start to the season had everyone putting the horrific second half display in the rearview mirror, but the theme of Gardner’s career has been inconsistency. He is what those familiar with the game of baseball call “streaky.”
His .190 batting average, .310 slugging percentage, and eight RBIs over his last 30 games have made fans restless. The only reason his offensive mishaps have flown under the radar is a recent string of success from the team as a whole.
If the Yankees are to go into another rough patch, Gardner better hopes he regains a hot bat in the midst of it as he is ten for his last 50, one for his last 21, and his 2016 batting average is all the way down to .217.
All things considered, the Yankees continue to run him out there every day.
Whenever the Yanks face a tough left-hander and the decision is whether to sit Jacoby Ellsbury or Gardner, Ellsbury is usually the one unrightfully chosen to warm the bench.
That lone decision is completely unjustifiable due to the fact that Gardner’s slash against southpaws is a dreadful .163/.268/.184. He also takes with him a mere two RBIs in 27 games against left-handers.
Granted, Gardner plays an outstanding left field and has shown he can get the job done in the past. Perhaps it is time to stop giving him that faithful nod.
A drop in the order may benefit the 32-year-old left fielder and prevent the Yankees from stacking their left-handed hitters at the top of the lineup.
A player of Gardner’s stature can usually jolt his way out of slumps. His dazzling speed should only play to his advantage in times of crisis. Unfortunately, his eight steals this season just go to show his known hesitancy on the base paths and an inability to utilize his strengths.
Arguably his only positive statistic thus far is his five home runs, but that may be exactly what is hurting him. 33 homers over the past two seasons for the 5’11”, 195 lb Gardner displayed a sneaky power stroke. The Yankees would be pained to learn that he is trying to drive the ball too frequently.
Plain and simple, Gardner needs to stick to his game. Whether that is a slap hitter with his speed or a gap-to-gap guy, he needs to figure himself out.
An injury is always a factor. Gardner was questionable starting off the season due to a banged up wrist that may be lingering its way through the campaign. He has always been a tough, everyday player and whatever it is that ails him will not be the first thing on his mind to blurt out.
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With that being said, if it is an injury hindering his play it would explain a lot. Inconsistent or not, Brett Gardner is not a .217 hitter and he certainly is not an offensive liability.
Right now, he is one. The offense has hit a bump in the road of late and no one has met the task of righting the sinking ship.
Gardner will continue to get his chances to displace his very own iceberg, but time is not his friend.