Brett Gardner
Dan Hamilton | USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to find a Yankees fan who doesn’t love former outfielder Brett Gardner. If we’re being completely honest, it’s hard to find anything negative to say about him.

He was a great contact hitter in his prime. His outfield defense bordered on elite. Who can forget him stealing a base with nary a care for any bumps, bruises, or breaks he might suffer mid-slide?

Gardner played his last game for the Yankees in 2021 and made it clear he doesn’t want to play anywhere else. He also still has fans, as lucky fan Khalil Bovell posted to a Yankees Facebook group.

At face value, this is a wholesome post. Gardner, being a fan favorite, would of course take the time to say hello to someone who recognized him, even at an airport as busy as Atlanta’s Hartfield-Jackson.

But then, the comments happened. Here’s a little reminder of why #YankeesTwitter rarely has good ideas:

The fact that we need to have this conversation (again) and go over why Gardner no longer fits (again) is almost comical. Yet, here we are for (hopefully) the final time.

Let’s be clear: Gardner is not going to be the Yankees’ starting left fielder at any point in 2023. Forget that Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Cabrera are the in-house options. The man is 39 years old, turns 40 in August, and just can’t hit anymore. Fangraphs shows how between 2017 and 2018, his bat speed just vanished.

Those 28 home runs in 2019 weren’t an adjustment, nor him finding his stroke again. They were just another juiced ball mirage.

Thus, Gardner’s playing days are over. He’ll always be a Yankee and will get rousing ovations at future Old Timers’ Days. Maybe he’ll finally realize his retired potential as a future Yankees’ first base coach.

But as a player? Sorry, fans. Get used to seeing Aaron Hicks in left field for now.

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Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.