Jon Heyman recently posted his award winners at the midway point of the season. His AL ROY list was as follows:
1. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays.
2. Elvis Andrus, Rangers.
3. Andrew Bailey, A’s.
4. Rick Porcello, Tigers.
5. Nolan Reimold, Orioles.
Tom Verducci did the same:
1) Ricky Romero, Blue Jays.
2) Rick Porcello, Tigers.
3) Brad Bergesen, Orioles.
Considering that Brett Gardner has a higher WAR than all of the named players, I would say that he is a notable omission from these lists. Gardner is having a very good season with the bat, and has been a revelation with the glove. Even his arm, which is not too great, recently got some good press on Fangraphs:
Gardner has racked up an incredible +8.4 ARM rating since showing up in the majors last year, and he’s done it in half a season’s worth of playing time. He has 83 “defensive games” as a major league outfielder, meaning that he’s had just over 1/2 of a season’s worth of balls hit to him to turn into outs. The four guys ahead of him are all at 200+ defensive games during this same time span.
This is a ridiculous performance, honestly. Over a full season, Gardner’s +17 pace would easily be double that of the 2008 ARM leader (Pence). He’s been worth almost a win to the Yankees (in half a season!) just by chucking the ball back in from the outfield…….
If Gardner really does have one of the best throwing arms in baseball, then there’s really no way that New York can justify keeping him out of the starting line-up on a regular basis. He’s already one of the best base stealers in the game (30 for 33), and his +10.6 range runs 600 innings as a major league center fielder suggest he might be an elite defensive player even without the crazy throwing. If the Yankees can really expect +5 to +10 runs per year from Gardner’s arm, in addition to above average range, and crazy good base stealing efficiency, then he’s worth an everyday line-up spot even with his .698 OPS in the majors.
In fact, when you look at the total body of work that Gardner has put together since showing up in New York, he’s racked up +3.3 wins above replacement in 342 plate appearances. Even with heavy regression, Gardner looks to be good enough to play everyday.
Now, I know that the ARM rating probably has something to do with a small sample and is also boosted by teams continually taking chances on his arm, but it certainly suggests that Brett’s throwing is not the liability that it seems to be. Combine that with his excellent range, and you have a great defensive player.
Don’t Say a Word download In regard to offense, Gardner is having a very good rookie year, ranking near the top of the AL among rookies with at least 75 plate appearances in many offensive categories:
BA .287 1st
OBP .360 1st
SLG .416 5th (!)
OPS .776 3rd
Runs 36 1st
Hits 51 3rd
RBI 17 4th
SB 18 1st
BB 20 1st
He is also not striking out as much as he did last season, with only 25 K’s in 178 AB’s. The conclusion is unavoidable: Brett Gardner has been one of the most valuable rookies in the AL this season, with a case for being the most valuable. He should get serious consideration for the Rookie of the Year award.
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