Most of the attention surrounding the New York Yankees has been focused on injuries, age, and the questions that go with them. Now, with the announcement that Mariano Rivera will be calling it quits there is yet another story that will draw plenty of attention and deservedly so. However, flying under the radar is the fantastic spring that Brett Gardner has been having.
After missing most of last season with an injured elbow, Gardner has entered spring training like a man on a mission. Through eight games and 22 at-bats, Gardner was hitting .500/.560/.591 with three RBIs and two stolen bases. Gardner has been bunting for hits and slapping singles all over the place. He only has one extra-base hit, a triple, so far this spring but Gardner’s speed and gap power should lead to plenty of doubles and triples over the course of the season.
The Yankees will take the field on Opening Day with 179 of last season’s 245 home runs either departed in free agency or on the disabled list. The Yankees, a team that scored 48.4 percent of their runs last season from home runs, will have to find new ways to score in 2013 and Brett Gardner figures to play a major role in the Yankee offense.
Two years ago Gardner led the league in stolen bases with 49. His speed on the bases will once again be a major factor for the Yankees especially with the new rule that prohibits pitchers from faking to third and throwing to first. Many experts believe this will make it easier for base runners to steal bases. With the new style of Yankee offense and the new rule, Gardner could be in line to have a monster year.
With all of the attention being paid to the missing Yankees power Brett Gardner could very well fly under the radar, and under the tag of middle infielders as he steals second, into a career year. Gardner could very well be the type of catalyst the Yankees offense needs.