Key Stats: Gardner is drafted for stolen bases, runs scored, and more stolen bases, all of which he should supply plenty of batting in the Yankees lineup. He does what someone with speed should do, which is keep the ball on the ground, but he has also been able to increase the rate he hits line drives each year he has been in the majors, which you won’t find anyone complaining about. Last year he finished with the 3rd lowest swinging strike rate (3%) and the was tied for the 5th highest contact rate (91.4%) among qualified batters.
Skeptics Say: While Gardner keeps the ball on the ground, he hasn’t exactly produced exceptionally high BABIP’s like you would expect from someone with his speed. He makes contact so frequently you would think that combined with his speed he would get more hits, especially when last year he only put the ball up in the air 28.3% of the time.
Peer Comparison: Brett Gardner is one of the premier sources of steals in baseball, there is no denying that. But that BABIP number seems off. He is being taken, on average in the 7th round of 12 team drafts in early mocks. Michael Bourn is being selected on average in the 4th. Why the difference? Gardner may not be leading off, but batting 9th he is being followed by Jeter, Granderson then Texiera or Cano. The runs will still come…
Better average, better…everything. OK, I can see why Bourn is being taken ahead of him. Crisp on the other hand, matches up a bit more favorably, but that OBP is awful for someone who bats lead off. The rest of the fantasy community knows it too, as evidenced by his being the 40th outfielder off the boards, on average. So Bourn is setting the bar nowadays, but Gardner is moving in the right direction. In their careers, Gardner has shown that he is steadily making better and better contact year after year, while Bourn is kinda scattered. Don’t be surprised if the players a more even at the end of the 2012 campaign.
Team Outlook: They are the Yankees. They are gonna hit. They are gonna score runs. Fughedaboudit!*. Gardner will still bat 9th, and lead off on days that Jeter rests…as much as I think that he should be leading off.
What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline – #27 Outfielder; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com – #24 Outfielder & #78 in the Top 250 Players; RotoChamp- #127 in the Top 300 Players; Mock Draft Central – #26 Outfielder and #93 overall
Projection: Yes Bourn may put up better numbers, and yes, he is being drafted ahead of him, and yes, we ranked him a few spots behind Gardner. This could be the year that Gardner closes the gap.
.275 AVG, 7 HR, 50 RBI, 97 R, 50 Steals, .363 OBP in 584 AB’s
*I really didn’t want to put that in there, but I thought it gets used so much in conjunction with New York things that the article would be incomplete without it.