It was only a few weeks ago that many Yankees fans were calling to bench Brett Gardner, or at least move him down in the lineup. It wasn’t a totally insane argument: Gardner hit just .210 with one home run in the month of April. Though to be fair, his OBP was still a solid .331. Other fans argued waiting on Gardner, noting the solid OBP on past performance.
Well, it looks like that argument can end for the time being, as the Yankee left fielder turned it on through the month of May.
As other Yankees entered May slumps, Gardner’s resurgence has helped propel the Yankees in winning 11 of their last 12 series. A leadoff hitter with an OBP over .400? That’s what you like to see.
Gardner’s power hasn’t played much of a factor yet this season, he had 11 home runs at this point last year, but past career performance suggests he’ll turn it on at some point. His 4-5 performance with two home runs in the comeback win over Houston says as much. The most important thing for the team is that he’s getting on base at a really solid clip.
What’s even more encouraging about his performance is that he’s been getting hotter as the month waned. His batting average, OBP, SLG, and OPS have all improved in more recent days, as shown in the above chart.
Gardner actually holds the second highest WAR on the team right now at 1.6, helped in part by his great defense. The good news is these numbers all line up pretty well with his career numbers, especially the last few years. While he doesn’t steal nearly as often as he did early on in his career, he’s still remained serviceable on the base paths. And pitchers certainly focus on his ability to run.
Gardner belongs in the leadoff spot with his OBP, a knack for grinding out at-bats, and ability to wear down opposing pitchers. He’s an integral part of this Yankees team, and now he’s finally turned it on at the plate.