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2013 Fantasy Baseball: Should You Draft Brett Gardner?


Debby Wong – USA Today Sports

The New York Yankees OF Brett Gardner was a reliable source of steals in fantasy baseball leagues in 2010 and 2011. He averaged 48 steals in those two years. But any manager that drafted him last year got killed, because Gardner only played in nine games before suffering an elbow injury that required surgery and caused him to miss most of the year.

So where should Garder fit into your draft plans this year? Will he replace Curtis Granderson as the starting center fielder or play left field part time?  Since he will be 30 this year, should we be expecting his speed to tail off?  Should his 194 strikeouts in 2010 and 2011 be a concern? Isn’t a career AVG of only .266 a continuing issue? Will the Yankees have him batting first or ninth this year?  Clearly there are a lot of question marks.

Gardner is showing up on tip sheets around the 50th ranked outfielder. This means you might have to chose between him and teammate Ichiro Suzuki, who will turn 40 this year. Despite Suzuki’s better career stats, I’d give Gardner the nod in this instance. It’s hard for me to see Suzuki playing everyday in the outfield at this age. And with the Yankees hiring Travis Hafner for DH, Ichiro’s chances there could be limited as well.

Another outfielder that still might be on the board when Gardner’s time in the draft comes is Michael Cuddyer, whose power numbers have really decreased over the past few years. I hoped last year that they might pick up in Denver, but that didn’t happen. While Cuddyer has lost his 2B eligibility, he still has the nice combination of 1B and OF.  But on balance, I’d also give Gardner the nod in this choice.

So in a 12-team league, if you can snag Gardner in the 13th round, that could turn out to be one of your better picks this season.