I’ve heard too many Yankee fans argue a .259 average with only 7 homeruns is embarrassing for the lineup. EJ stifled those remarks in October and explained how Gardner’s standard statistics may not look pretty, but fWAR places him amongst the top 30 position players in the game. I have to agree with EJ, Gardner’s 5.1 fWAR goes ignored by the typical baseball fan. Trading an undervalued player is counterproductive, but what if Cashman could find a GM that overvalued him?
By now, I hope you’ve heard the story behind Moneyball. Billy Beane competes with teams who have three times the payroll by using advanced statistics to find undervalued players. Most GM’s have bought into sabermetric analysis by now, and WAR is the number that ties it all together. With such a high WAR, Gardner would hit the open market at a premium position in centerfield, in his first year of arbitration, and under team control until 2015. He’d be a stud in the mind of a saber influenced GM.
For the Yankees, Gardner is an afterthought compared to a star like Cano, who had a similar fWAR. The influence of defense on WAR could be argued endlessly, instead I think WAR overvalues Gardner based on his role with the team. The organization has shown a reluctance to lead Gardner off, and playing him in centerfield won’t happen. With Jeter and Granderson holding up Gardner’s hitting and position spot, the Yankees aren’t utilizing his full potential.
Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman, Mike Stanton, Josh Hamilton, and Carlos Gonzalez all ranked lower than Gardner in terms of WAR. If another team actually believes he’s worth more than these outfielders, the return could be quite interesting. I truly believe he’d be one of the best fielding centerfielders and best leadoff hitters, but if the Yankees are still convincing themselves he should be hitting in the nine-slot playing left field, I’m willing to say goodbye.
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