We’ve heard of Brett Gardner and his importance to the team but we have yet to compare him to one of the greatest players the New York Yankees have had in the outfield.
The New York Yankees started out this season with a weak pulse. Going 9-9 early on, it seemed like the Yankees would flame out. Good thing their pulse came back strong in the form of Brett Gardner.
Gardy is now the longest tenured Yankee and the bona fide leader in a clubhouse filled to the brim with young talent. Gardner also serves as one of the more steady players in the dugout, constantly stepping up when necessary and grinding it out every single day.
With his recent hot surge, Gardner has quickly silenced the haters who were judging him based on his age as the season began. He is the seasoned veteran who plays hard and gets the job done at every turn. Sound familiar?
No matter how great Gardner plays, he doesn’t get the recognition he truly deserves for the way he leaves it all on the field every single game. No matter what he does, his name won’t be included in the group that gets the most attention from the media.
Looking back at the rich history of the New York Yankees, there have been players like that before. In most recent history, that player is the fan favorite Bernie Williams.
How perfect is this comparison? Both speedy outfielders with clutch genes, Gardner and Williams are two peas in a pod. While Gardner doesn’t have quite the stellar numbers in terms of batting average or power that Williams provided during his 16-year tenure with the Bombers.
The comparison lies more so in the attitude and the recognition both have received…or not received. Bernie Williams was a staple in that Yankees outfield and a key contributor to their dynasty in the late 90s. Yet, he never was considered a part of the “Core Four,” the group that was credited with all the recognition for these dominant squads.
Same thing with Brett Gardner. While he is a vital cog in the machine, when asked who the stars are on the team, your answer wouldn’t include Gardner. Your mind would float to Aaron Judge and Luis Severino. You might even consider Gary Sanchez and Dellin Betances. All impressive homegrown talents that have made an impact on this season’s squad. The point is, Gardner’s name does not show up in the conversations, much like Bernie.
Both exemplify the gritty attitude and veteran leadership that is the driving force behind the success of these teams. However, that leadership doesn’t always get brought to the forefront. That’s exactly where Gardner is now.
Gardner may not have the guitar skills that Williams possesses off the field (that we know of) but they are both incredibly durable. Williams has played over 100 games in 14 of his 16 seasons while Gardner is on pace to do something similar, only missing the majority of one season over his tenure.
The two outfielders are certainly two peas in a pod. They provided reliability and clutch moments without all the spotlight shining on them at all times. And perhaps, that’s why they’ve done so well in the Bronx.
Williams spent his entire career as a Yankee and it wouldn’t be surprising if Gardner follows that same path. He’s already used to flying under the radar and he’s definitely been a fan favorite ever since his call-up in 2008.
Honestly, what more could the Yankees ask for? Looking at the numbers, Williams was one of the more reliable outfielders in Yankees history and Gardner is right on pace to do the same thing. Forget the flashy play. Gardner shows that you don’t have to be a star to truly shine.
Bernie Williams did that too and he excelled at it. Now, it’s Brett Gardner’s turn. These guys may not be one of the popular core players but they sure as hell deserve recognition for all they’ve done for this organization.