There was a time not too long ago when the New York Yankees had to make a decision on who to make their everyday outfielder: Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner.
Cabrera wound up winning the job, but fast forward now to 2013, and Cabrera was mentioned in what would his second PED offense, while Gardner is the Yankees’ center fielder whose bat has been hot lately to go along with his invaluable defense.
Gardner was named the American League Player of the Week for his efforts last week, and started the new week off right, with a leadoff single to begin the game, going 2-5 and scoring a run in a loss to the Oakland Athletics.
Gardy is hitting .417 in the month of June with five doubles and 15 hits in 10 games, better than any of his teammates. Hitting first in the order, he has been getting on base and giving his team ample opportunities to drive him home, which they do, as he also leads the team in runs scored with 35.
After an elbow injury kept him out for almost the entirety of 2012, there was some fear about his ability to come out and play everyday with the same defensive prowess, as well as his plate presence. Gardner has gone far and beyond quelling any of those fears, as he has arguably been the Yankees’ most consistent hitter, never going more than two consecutive days without a hit.
He is still the same hard-nosed player he has always been, running hard on every ground ball and stealing when getting on base (although that is the one area in which he could improve), but he has now added a little power to his profile. With 14 doubles and six homers about a third of the way through the season, he is poised to surpass his previous year totals.
Beyond his abilities at the plate, his defense is center field makes him hard to replace. He covers more ground than Curtis Granderson ever could at the position, has a good arm, and is never afraid to sacrifice his body for a play. While we all saw how he played left, his defense has become even more imperative in center, and he does not disappoint.
Gardner is an easy player to like because he relies on his strengths and plays hard. He’s not the type of player you’ll see jogging after a ball or lollipopping a throw. He has gone from a player the Yankees put in for defense and speed to a player they rely on to help them win games, and that’s something every Yankees fan likes to see.