End of the season means time for an in-depth look at each of the players who made the New York Yankees great this year. First up, Brett Gardner.
I think it’s only fair that I get to tackle my favorite player, the gritty veteran Brett Gardner. The longest tenured player on the New York Yankees, Gardner played his role as a mentor well on this team.
So while grading Gardner, we’ll split it up into categories: offense, defense and overall presence. And all together we will see that Gardner played a huge role in the Yankees’ playoff run, just not in the spotlight.
Everyone’s favorite left fielder made an impact at the plate this year, especially in the power department. Gardner also finished with his highest batting average since 2013.
Gardner’s .264/.350/.428 line wasn’t worthy of All-Star recognition but it was good enough to assist the Yankees in their incredible run.
He got timely hits, swiped bases at the most opportune times and launched clutch home runs during 2017. In fact, when he hit home runs during the regular season, the Yankees went 16-2 (he crushed 21).
He had some defining moments this season. He hit that clutch home run with two outs in the top of the ninth to defeat the Chicago Cubs. He had a walk-off blast against the Tampa Bay Rays after scoring the game-tying run and following that up with ANOTHER walk-off the next day. He labored through a 12-pitch at-bat before he delivered a clutch RBI single in a crucial Game 5 in Cleveland.
You’ve seen the word before: clutch. That’s exactly what Brett Gardner’s offensive performance was like this year. Yes, there were ups and downs but in the end, he was the guy you wanted at the plate when the game was on the line.
It’s hard to believe that Gardner could get anything less than an A+ when it came to his perfect defense. And when we say perfect, we mean absolutely perfect.
Gardner made no errors in the field. Yup, you read that right. Zero errors. And beyond his errorless play are some pretty spectacular ones too.
Any time the ball sails into left field, you can guarantee that Gardner will either come up with the catch or he’ll stop the ball and be ready to fire out the runner attempting to swipe an extra base.
The only reason he doesn’t get an A+ is because Gardner had several chances to throw out runners yet didn’t always come through. If he threw out a few more runners going to second, he would be a clear A+ defender.
I mean, there is also the fact that Gardner didn’t win the Gold Glove this year, despite his perfect play in left. It’s okay, Brett. We’ve been blessed with you out in left field all this time and this year was no exception.
Overall Presence: A+
Team chemistry played a huge role in the Yankees’ magical run to the postseason and Brett Gardner was right at the center of it. I think it’s safe to say that the Yankees wouldn’t be quite as successful without the heart and soul of their team in Gardner.
He was the bona fide leader of the team. He gave the Yankees a spark when the team seemed lifeless. He brought the Yankees back from obscurity into the playoffs.
Besides, he also showed these kids in the clubhouse that it is okay to have a little bit of fun while on the biggest stage in the game. After all, Didi Gregorius refers to him as the clown in his famous postgame tweets.
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Jokes aside, Brett Gardner provided the Yankees with a spark. When Aaron Judge wasn’t making a difference, Gardner was. When Gary Sanchez struggled at the plate, Gardner was supplying the power. When pitchers were struggling, Gardner had their back.
Gardner defined what it means to be a team player more so this year than ever before. He didn’t just make the team better; he made the team one of the best in the league.
Overall Grade: A
Brett Gardner gave the Yankees his all this year and it really showed. He gave us an excuse to party and isn’t that all we ask of this team?
Great season by the Gardner. Now, will he be in pinstripes next year?