How does Brett Gardner stay in the lineup? That’s the big question. Will he continue to hit .385 as he did in the Spring? Of course not. BG, as we all know, has lightning in his legs, but in order for that to be unleashed upon Yankee foes, he first needs to get on base. OBP, therefore is going to be the key stat for him, and that is my question to you readers: in your opinion, what does Brett Gardner’s OBP need to be in order for him to be an asset??
Conventional wisdom says that BG needs to be approximately league average in OBP to give the Yanks something positive at that position, but does conventional wisdom hold up (does it ever?). Let’s see.
BG was pretty clearly not an overall asset in his first stint with the team, with an OBP below .240. Coming back in August/ September, however, he managed to post a .329 OBP for those months and, to most eyes, seemed to clearly be a positive force for the team, contributing to a substantial winning run to end the season.
The league average for OBP is .333, so BG hit right about that on his second call-up, lending credence to the idea that his speed and defensive presence could cancel out his lack of pop if only he can achieve a league average OBP.
Looking at it another way, a player BG has been comped to many times, Jacoby Ellsbury, had a decent season in which he contributed to a contender’s playoff run seemingly without adversely affecting the team. Ellsbury had 98 runs scored and 50 steals in 554 AB’s. These are numbers that, I think, Yankee brass would by happy with. His OBP last season was .336 which continues to jibe with the league average argument.
Now, keep in mind, Ellsbury mashed 9 hrs and slugged in the .390s, while BG with probably not hit more than 5 dingers despite adding a little more pop to his stroke of late (he could conceivable slug around .400, though .380 is more likely), so you may have to amp BG’s OBP to the .345 range to get the same production. Then again, though, BG doesn’t have a ridiculous name, so that works in his favor (Jacoby Ellsbury… really? Is he an Amish circus performer or something?).
So what do you guys think? What’s the magic number: .320, .330, .340, .350?? What loses him the job: .310, .300, .290??
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