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It’s time to face facts with Brett Gardner

Before I write an entire blog about why Brett Gardner needs to play less, let’s get one thing clear. I do not “hate” him. I love Gardy. He’s been a Yankee his entire career. He won a World Series here. I have countless great memories of Gardy, like the game-winning homer in the ninth at Wrigley, or the eleven pitch at-bat ending in a two-run single to seal the deal in ALDS Game 5 that same year.

So no, I do not hate Brett Gardner. Got it? Okay good, now I can get to my point.

There is absolutely no reason to see Gardner in the lineup every day. Even with both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton out, I would much rather have Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier and Mike Tauchman starting in the outfield. Gardner has appeared in 27 of the Yankees’ 33 games thus far, and to put it lightly, he has not been good.

Gardner is off to a .169/.302/.338/.640 start in 2020. He’s mustered just three homers and six runs batted in. This is a drastic drop-off from the 28 HR, 74 RBI, .829 OPS season Gardner had in 2019. However, we can likely attribute a lot of Gardner’s 2019 success to the juiced balls. Gardner was also terrible in 2018, as he posted a .690 OPS. While his OPS rose nearly 130 points the next year, that came almost entirely from his increased slugging percentage (.368 to .503). His on-base percentage stayed nearly identical (.322 to .325). Gardner has been declining for awhile now, but the juiced balls hid that in 2019.

Take a look at Gardner’s 2020 percentile rankings.

He’s been well below average in nearly every offensive category. What’s even worse is that injuries have forced him to occasionally bat in the top half of the lineup, as he’s slotted into the 3rd, 5th, and 6th spots in the lineup at times this season. A lineup that has Gardner anywhere near the top is not one that you should feel particularly good about.

I appreciate all that Gardner has done as a Yankee. He still has a place on this team, especially given the injuries to Judge and Stanton. But that place is as a fourth outfielder, coming in late for defense and getting a start or two a week. It isn’t as an everyday player, and nowhere near the top of the lineup.