Matt at TYU took a look at Brett Gardner's WAR projections for 2011 today, and while I agree that the project numbers he would put up (between 2.86 and 3.56 depending on which outfield position he played) would be more than acceptable, I still take umbrage with the fact that people seem to think 2010 was the best Brett Gardner can do.
Let's look at the facts. Gardner has great patience at the plate (13.9% walk rate in 2010) and great speed on the basepaths. He worked with Kevin Long before this past season to focus on hitting the ball more on the ground to maximize the speed asset and for the most part, that work translated into success for Gardner: high OBP, lots of runs scored, good SB numbers.
But now that he has mastered that ability, what's to say Gardner can't work with Long more on learning to drive the ball a little and find gaps? His speed becomes even more of a weapon when he's hitting balls to the wall and racking up XBH like it's going out of style. Infield singles are nice and all, but they still leave the threat of a double play present. Gardner's speed on 2nd or 3rd base makes producing that run even easier for the hitters behind him than him being on 1st base does.
With what I saw from Gardner in his first full year last year, I see no reason why he can't be molded into a little bit more of a power hitter. I certainly don't expect him to start jacking homers all over the yard, but with how well he sees the ball, a combination of improved hitting mechanics and more experience can give him a little more oomph in his swing. But am I crazy in thinking this, people? Because I seem to be the only one that has any faith in Gardner being able to improve and build on his 2010 season.
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