Wendell Cruz | USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to look at Matt Carpenter right now and not automatically think of Brett Gardner.

Yes, that’s a big comparison. Carpenter hasn’t been with the Yankees for a full month. He wasn’t even with them in spring training. Carpenter was in the Rangers’ system and began the year at Triple-A Round Rock. Why compare him to a true Yankee lifer?

Well, because Carpenter has become what Gardner was in his 14 years in pinstripes: An absolute thorn in the other team’s side while energizing his clubhouse.

Even better, Carpenter has completely bought into being a Yankee.


A clean .333 batting average and 13 RBI in ten games. Eight base hits, six of which are home runs. It doesn’t matter that what he brings to the plate is fairly one-dimensional. Carpenter has energized the lineup and the Yankees much like Gardner did for years.

That isn’t to say Carpenter and Gardner are one and the same. Carpenter twice led the National League in doubles with the Cardinals and has always had great raw power. Gardner’s bat wasn’t without pop. Yet, he was always more of a contact and slap hitter. His production disappeared with his bat speed. One could even argue that juiced balls prolonged, maybe even extended his career.

Gardner was serviceable-enough outfield glove and strong veteran leadership for the next generation of Yankees players. And not much else except an uncanny ability to foul pitches off and regularly extend at-bats.

Carpenter doesn’t have nearly the amount of clubhouse equity Gardner built up over 14 years. But it’s clear he’s made an impact as a role player. He understands the Yankees’ need for left-handed depth off the bench. It’s not about the playing time, but the opportunity. Gardner isn’t on the Yankees anymore, and probably won’t be this year. It’s fine, he’s happy to wait.

But even though Gardner isn’t in the dugout, Carpenter’s energy still fills that void. And if he keeps swinging a hot bat and making good barrel-to-ball contact for the Yankees, all the better.

Josh Benjamin is a Bronx native who lives and breathes the New York Yankees despite being born into a family full of Mets fans. He is the MLB Editor at RealSport and considers himself a student of the game. When not writing, he can be found either at Yankee Stadium or deep in discussion with his fellow sports nuts.