Coming in to 2010, we all weren’t sure if Brett Gardner was going to be an everyday player. In 2009, he posted a .337 wOBA, an average mark, but it was in just 284 plate appearances. Through 232 this year, not including last night’s win versus the Phillies in which Gardner tripled and singled, he has a .382 wOBA. That’s really, really solid. But, it does come with the caveat of being in just 232 PAs. We’ve yet to see Gardner reach even 300 PAs in a season, so we’re really unsure as to how good he really is. I don’t think he’s .382 wOBA good, but I also think he’s better than .337 wOBA good. I’d expect Gardner to be solidly in the middle of that, around .340-.350, mostly due to an improved walk rate of 11.6%. Regardless, Gardner’s impressed this year and I hope he can keep it up.
Perhaps the biggest question facing Gardner coming in to this season was whether or not he’d be able to handle left handed pitching. When Gardner was routinely platooned early in the season, we naturally assumed that he wouldn’t get much of a chance to prove himself. Well, we were likely wrong to think that.
In 2008, Gardner looked woeful against lefties, wOBAing just .112 against them (-45 wRC+). In 2009, though, Gardner had a reverse platoon split. He posted a weak .312 wOBA against righty pitchers in the Yankees’ championship year, but put up a solid .350 wOBA against lefties. That trend has continued in 2010. He may not have a reverse platoon split this year (.376 wOBA vs. RHP), but he’s still hitting well against lefties with a .349 wOBA.
During the game last night, one of the color guys–I can’t remember if it was Paul O’Neill or Al Lieter–wondered if Gardner would be platooned with recent call up Chad Huffman. Michael Kay disagreed, though he didn’t bring up these numbers (duh). In a rare move, I’m going to agree with Kay. There’s absolutely no need to platoon Gardner at this point. Until he proves otherwise, he’s an every day player.
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