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Has Brett Gardner exceeded your expectations?

I just want to start this by saying I’m a really good person. Last year when Brett Gardner looked to be on his last legs I bought his jersey. (I also bought a Gary Sanchez jersey so yeah, that’s the kind of person I am.) Here was a staple of the Yankee organization, and even though he wasn’t performing, I still wanted to rock this man’s number on my back in respect to his career.

To start 2019, it looked like Gardner was going to continue struggling the way he did the year before. He started the season 3 for 21. He had 0 XBH, 1 HR, 3 RBI, hit for a .143 AVG and had a .503 OPS. In that time the Yankees were 2 – 4. They lost two straight series at home to the lowly Tigers and Orioles. All the woes the Yankees faced felt as if they were piled on him. Those DFA cries were REAL loud.

To blame everything on Gardy was a ridiculous sentiment when you think about it – especially since he’d been one of the few Yankees to stay on the field consistently. In that time Aaron Hicks was out, our bullpen hadn’t begun to click yet, and we’d not yet seen the rise of Gio Urshela or DJ LeMahieu. Things also looked really bad when, a few days earlier, both Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar went down with serious injuries.

Of course, Yankee fans don’t always think this way. There needed to be a scapegoat and Brett Gardner was that guy.

Then, on a cool April night, the first series the Yankees saw the Red Sox in the Bronx since that dreaded 2018 ALDS, Brett Gardner stepped up to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded in the 7th. That troll, Ryan Brasier, was on the mound after Eovaldi had another brilliant outing against the Bombers. To say confidence in that bat was at an all-time low is probably an understatement.

What happened though? Probably the beginning of the end of the 2018 Boston Red Sox. In some ways, Boston was never able to gather themselves after this:

Brett Gardner scorched that one into the short porch. It flew off the bat at 104.3 MPH. Also, maybe I was lying when I said nobody saw it coming. This guy saw it.

TODAY

2018 was a bit of a lost season for Gardner. He had one hot May where he hit 3 HR, 11 RBI, had a .313 AVG and .917 OPS. Other than that though, his second half slide was brutal. In 241 plate appearances at the half Gardy hit 3 HR, 12 RBI, had a .209 AVG and a .604 OPS. To hear the Yankees signed him was met with a sour taste in people’s mouths but, just as we’ve seen time and time again from this team, Brett Gardner has jumped all our expectations.

He has been Mr. Next Man Up filling in for the likes of Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton

Offensively

20 HR (His career high was 21)
73 RBI
.248 AVG
.327 OBP
.481 SLG
110 WRC+
3.2 bWAR

In the outfield this year, he has a 4 DRS and according to fangraphs WAR, he is a 4.0 Defensive fWAR player.

Also if we can go back to the off-season, I can’t say enough how signing Brett Gardner‘s deal was met with the ire of many. Never has a $7.5 million Yankee contract induced that many tears. (It’s akin to grown men crying about La Bodega’s location getting out.) Well, fast forward to September. With such a productive year by Gardner, Fangraphs calculates his value at $24 million.

As it stands, Brett Gardner got brought in on the cheap. Making Bryce Harper money might be fair, too. Especially since he and our manager Aaron Boone were the co-authors of one of the highlights of this year’s World Series DVD.