Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier are fighting for that fourth outfield spot on the New York Yankees. However, maybe they both need each other.

Allison Case

When the New York Yankees inked Brett Gardner to a one-year deal this offseason, the longest-tenured Yankee became what many would consider to be the fourth outfielder.

But wait! Not so fast! When Clint Frazier is on the field, all thoughts of Gardner go to the wayside. Frazier is the young, red-headed hero we never knew we needed in the Bronx.

When Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks return from their stint in injury purgatory where they’ve been trapped for months, who will emerge as the fourth outfielder?

All answers point to Frazier with Gardner serving a role as a pinch runner and bench leader. And while Gardner isn’t having his finest season so far, he’s improved a lot thanks to his own immediate enemy.

While these two are competing for the same title, that competition has made Gardner even stronger. In fact, when Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier are in the lineup together, the veteran performs significantly better.

Let’s break it down a little more. This season, Brett Gardner has appeared in 15 games that Clint Frazier has not. In those 15 games, Gardy is sporting a disappointing .196 batting average with just one home run and four RBI.

Now, enter the dynamo that is Clint Frazier. When Frazier finds himself in the lineup near Brett Gardner, something different happens: Brett Gardner actually hits. In the 19 games that two have played together, Gardy may still be batting in the low .200s but he’s displayed more power (five home runs) and scored 15 runs. The lefty has also driven in 10 runs during this span.

If you have to question whether or not the pressure is on for Gardy, it definitely is. When Clint Frazier appears in the lineup, Gardy knows he has to step up or get pushed out. What Frazier has done so far this year has been pretty impressive so Gardner has to show what he’s made of too.

From what we’ve seen from Gardner, he’s a true competitor. He gets fired up easily and brings competitive energy to the field every time he steps out there. So, naturally, he would be more fired up each time he goes out there and has to play alongside the guy who is threatening to take his starting position.

Frazier entered Tuesday night’s game batting a cool .306 and delivering six home runs on the season for a lineup lacking in power. He has, no doubt, proven his worth and showed that he can do this consistently.

Gardner, on the other hand, hasn’t shown much consistency in the young season and that could be the deal.

Maybe the answer for Gardner is to play with that fierceness all the time. Stop worrying about who’s in the lineup and play like your job is on the line every day. In reality, it definitely is.

Gardner isn’t getting any younger and if he’s stepping up his game because of Clint Frazier, that’s not a bad thing. However, he needs to bring that same intensity and urgency to perform even if Frazier isn’t a determining factor.

Teammates should push each other to bring out the best for their team and that’s exactly what this Gardy-Frazier tandem is doing. It seems that right now the Frazier competition is encouraging Brett Gardner a little bit more.

Right now, that’s not a bad problem to have. If both are in the lineup and producing in a way that’s helping the team win, where’s the harm in that?

If only the Yankees could keep both. I guess this competition has to keep going up until the final minute. However, it’s already become clear that, so far, this little rivalry is improving the team for the better.

Allison is just a girl with an enormous passion for the game of baseball and the written word. Based in Upstate New York, her life-long relationship with the New York Yankees is something that she developed through close relationships with her mother and grandfather. An aspiring sports writer, she graduated with a journalism degree and is finding places to share her excitement about the sporting world and how it affects us all.