Many people commend New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner for his patience at the plate but now it’s a problem.
Brett Gardner and the New York Yankees are in an exclusive, long-term relationship. They’ve become used to each other, making it incredibly hard for them to part ways, as fans are demanding quite frequently.
Gardner has struggled so far this season, just as he has for the past few seasons. He looks off at the plate and out of sorts late in the count. It may be early, but we can’t ignore his struggles.
What we can do is analyze the problem here and see what the solution might be. Right now, Gardner is known as one of the more patient batters at the plate.
Ranked eighth in the American League in pitches per plate appearance at 4.29, people view that as an incredible stat to have. For Gardner, however, it is not good at all.
He has always been a patient hitter at the plate but as of late, he’s been working the count and finding himself either waving at pitches out of the zone or watching strike three blaze right down Broadway.
Because he’s allowing early pitches to sneak by, he is allowing the pitchers to get ahead in the count and limiting his pitch selection options as the count continues to rise. For some players, that pressure in the late count is good for them.
For Gardner, it just isn’t.
In his career, Gardner fares far better statistically in early counts. After a 1-0 count, Gardner has batted .394 in his career. After a 2-0 count, he is batting .355. When Gardner is ahead in the count, he is batting an impressive .301.
When he’s behind, that’s when he starts to struggle. When the pitcher is ahead in the count, Gardner is batting .205. With two strikes, he’s even worse, batting .196 and striking out 39 percent of the time.
This season he is batting .205. While the stats are not sparkling, he is still batting .269 when ahead in the count and .056 when behind. The pattern continues to ring true every season for Gardy.
Saturday was the day Gardner busted out of his slump to crush two home runs and drive in four runs in a dominating Yankees victory. Those two home runs both came off of 1-0 counts for Gardner.
He swung early in the count and took advantage of those good pitches. As he gets deeper in the count, pitchers have a little more freedom to make batters chase the ball, which Gardner typically does.
Sometimes patience at the plate is a great thing. However, Gardner’s hits have mainly come early in the count, when he can jump on quality pitches early instead of falling behind.
But then again, Brett Gardner is still an enigma. 11 of his 14 hits this season have come in the first three innings. Some days he looks completely lost at the plate. Others, he approaches each at-bat like it’s Game 7 of the World Series.
Maybe we’ll never quite figure out what’s going on with Brett Gardner. However, from what we are seeing, it’s a good idea to get him to start being more aggressive instead of passive at the plate.
The more aggressive Gardner is, the better he tends to perform.
Forget laying off first-pitch fastballs. It’s time to strike at the early pitches to help turn him into the Brett Gardner that has been advertised for the Yankees.