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Turns out the Yankees needed Brett Gardner, not Manny Machado

Baseball isn’t played in the Winter. It’s played in the Spring, Summer and Fall. This is why, when the Yankees brought back Brett Gardner and then chose not to bring in Manny Machado, it’s funny to think how many people thought the team was knocked out of contention for the AL East.

There was a mutual consensus going around that the Yankees were being cheap and not trying hard enough, despite zero games being played. Here we are though. The Minnesota Twins are en route to the Bronx Zoo and, as it turns out, Gardy was a steal and Manny put up some decent power numbers to the naked eye but it was below what we’re used to from him – not something you want out of a guy with a massive contract.

Video from StatCast

Here’s where the two of them fall next to each other statistically.

Brett Gardner: Manny Machado:
28 HR 32 HR
86 R 81 R
74 RBI 85 RBI
.251 AVG .256 AVG
.325 OBP .334 OBP
.503 SLG .462 SLG
.829 OPS .796 OPS
115 wRC+ 108 wRC+
15.5 Runs Above Replacement 5.2 Runs Above Replacement
3.2 Outs Above Replacement 4.2 Outs Above Replacement
7 Defensive Runs Saved (LF) 5 Defensive Runs Saved (3B)
3.7 WAR (Fangraphs) 3.0 WAR (Fangraphs)
4.0 WAR (Baseball Reference 3.1 WAR (Baseball Reference)

Gardy had more runs scored, a higher slugging percentage, higher OPS, higher wRC+, higher RAA, higher DRS in their main positions, and blew Manny out of the water in both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference WAR. (CRAZY that Gardy out-slugged Manny after all the hype this winter.)

The two were close in home runs, RBI, AVG and OBP. If you’re an “average only fan” that really only looks at home runs and RBI’s, this whole thing is still pretty crazy. The only thing that Machado ran away with was the defensive stat Outs Above Replacement. It was a full OAA above Gardy. But I guess for the hundreds of millions of dollars he’ll be paid, he has to win at something right?

At the end of the day it didn’t take Manny Machado to win the division. It took a village to run the AL East and put away the Rays and Red Sox – two clubs that were deemed the “teams to beat” by all the experts – by the middle of the summer. Also, if the Yanks get Machado and don’t bring back Gardy, moments like this where NESN is left speechless don’t happen at all.

Video from StatCast


When you think about these results, it all just might be fluky. Compare the Baseball Savant rankings between the two ball players. Manny should be the one out-slugging a guy brought in on a contract everyone thought was solely based on loyalty and nothing else.

This is Manny.

This is Gardy.

Was the whole thing a fluke? Maybe. Was Manny Machado extremely unlucky and Gardy was extremely lucky? Possibly. Over a long period of time, it’s guaranteed that Manny becomes the guy that lives up to his contract given his talent, while Gardy (who also might be in the NFL posing as Gardner Minshew.) has a regression given his age.

At the end of the day, as the season has concluded, we can look at all the stats and try to predict the whole thing and say one guy was unlucky and the other guy was super lucky but how about this. Results matter.

In the age of advanced stats we don’t say this enough. This is a game and Gardy crossed the finish line more gracefully compared to the superstar third basemen that hijacked an entire winter as if he was truly the game changer. Manny could be that guy for the Padres in the coming years but for now, signing Brett Gardner just looks REALLY awesome on the part of Brian Cashman.

We can all pretend to know what we’re talking about – myself included – but here’s the thing. You can’t predict baseball (Suzyn). It’s impossible if you try.