Allow me to play captain obvious for a second: it’s never a good time for a player to get injured.
[image title="3664852915_7b516df272" size="full" id="19192" align="center" linkto="full" ]
This, however, is a particularly bad time for Brett Gardner to suffer a setback, even if it is just a day-to-day injury.
In June, Gardner is hitting a ridiculous .383/.424/.533/1.006 with a fantastic wOBA. The year’s sixth month has seen Gardner put up highs just about every statistic so a bump in the road is clearly unwelcome.
Delving deeper into the splits, there’s one trend I like: Brett Gardner’s walk rate has been improving each month. It started off at a solid 9.5 in April, rose to double digits in May, and has gone all the way up to 12.5% so far in June. One of the most important aspects of Gardner’s game is his ability to get on base and prior to 2010, this was a question mark because of his lack of power and relative abundance of strikeouts. It’s worth noting that Gardner’s strikeout rate has been on the rise each month, but if he keeps the walk rate up, I’ll take it.
Speaking of power, Gardner’s IsoP, which is never going to be very high, has also climbed upwards since the beginning of the season. We likely won’t see any more power from Gardner going forward, but if he can keep that Iso above .100, I’ll be happy.
Let’s take a closer look at where Brett’s balls are falling when they dunk in for hits. June comes first:
[image title="Gardy" size="full" id="19193" align="center" linkto="full" ]
As we can see, when Gardner goes oppo, good things happen. By that count, Gardner’s got 23 hits in June and more than half of them have gone to center or left field.
Looking at the season-wide chart below, we see a similar trend:
[image title="untitled2" size="full" id="19194" align="center" linkto="full" ]
While the hits are more distributed, there’s still a decent concentration of hits to left field. As for Brett’s outs, both the June chart and the season chart show us a lot of outs in the infield. This likely comes from Gardner’s very downward-plane-swing that produces a lot of chops at the ball (his relative lack of hip movement could lead to this too). If there’s one thing that frustrates me about Gardner, it is his swing. I’ve commented on it before, but who am I to be complaining when it’s working for him?
With Gardner, I’ve always been cautiously optimistic. His swing and the holes in his game made him seem unlikely to have much success at the Major League level. At the same time, though, he’s shown the ability to adjust at each and every level and thus far, the majors have been no different. Brett has shown a ton of improvement this season and hopefully, he continues on this trend to be a solid ML player.
Photo Credit: Robert Occhialini, @bump on Twitter; Bump on Flickr.
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