Forget Carl Crawford. In the American League, no other player is as fast or as wise with his wheels than the Yankees’ left fielder, Brett Gardner. Not Carl Crawford, not Rajai Davis, not Elvis Andrus—none of them are as good, for that mantle – the best baserunner in the AL – belongs solely to the gritty BG. One only needs to look at two distinct stats to confirm this–speed score, and EqBRR (equivalent baserunning runs).
First, according to FanGraphs’ 4-component version of Bill James’ speed score, which is, according to David Appelman, “an average of Stolen Base Percentage, Frequency of Stolen Base Attempts, Percentage of Triples, and Runs Scored Percentage,” Gardner is the speediest player in the AL with a score of 8.4 (Carl Crawford is in second with a 7.9). In addition, according to EqBRR, which basically measures one’s total baserunning contributions in runs, Gardner has been worth 4.4 runs, thus far, in 2010. Not only is that tops in the American League, but it is also the best mark in the National League. Basically, the young outfielder has been worth nearly half a win in under 38 games played. Looking at these numbers, it’s fairly clear just how valuable Gardner can be, wheel-wise. As the phrase goes, speed kills, and Gardner really embodies that.
His bat has been a surprise for many, but his wheels have come as advertised. He is, without a doubt, the best baserunner in the AL, and he could turn out to be the best in baseball. Pretty cool, huh?
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