22 Apr 2010
Brett Gardner is probably not going to his .333 and reach base at a .440 clip this season. He is also most likely going to end up with a slugging percentage below .400. While that won’t profile as your typical leftfielder, for this team, Gardner holds tremendous value if he can get on base around .360 and keep up his current level of patience.
What this Yankees’ team is all about is wearing down pitchers and Gardner has done an excellent job of doing that, seeing 4.3 pitches per plate appearance. That’s good for 10th in the AL and part of an offense that has 5 hitters in the top 18 of the league. (Does it shock anyone that Nick Johnson leads the team at 4.58 with Swisher second at 4.36?) When your number 9 hitter can be that patient, it puts tremendous strain on the pitcher, as he doesn’t have the traditional "quick" outs to get at the bottom of the order.
Throw in the fact that Gardner plays plus defense and if you put him on first he is probably getting to second and you have a pretty potent weapon. It wouldn’t work on every team, but with all the thunder in the Yankees’ lineup, they can use some lightning. Gardner can just focus on getting on base and getting into scoring position for the top of the lineup to drive him in.
I think Joe Girardi is realizing this because today’s lineup has Gardner making his second-straight start against a LHP. Girardi doesn’t have to start him against every lefty, Marcus Thames has shown that he can still mash lefty pitching, but I hope he runs Gardner out there 140+ times this year.
On a separate note, Joe Girardi gave David Robertson a big vote of confidence in his interview with Mike Francesca today. Girardi said that since Joba and Mo have pitched two days in a row he won’t use Joba and probably won’t use Mo. Girardi then said Marte would probably be used against lefties in the ninth and Robertson against any righties. It will be interesting to see if Girardi sticks to that in a one-run game, but at 1:40 EDT today those are his thoughts.