Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Does Brett Gardner Deserve All-Star Consideration?

(Photo courtesy of The AP)

Upon first glance at that title, you're probably inclined to say "fuck no!" and ask what I've been smoking.  But if you really stop and look at what Gardner has done so far this year, it's worth taking a second to think about it.  Observe Gardner's stat line so far:
  • .322/.406/.436 BA/OBP/SLG tripleslash
  • 44 run scored
  • 65 hits
  • 13 extra-base hits (6 2Bs, 4 3Bs, 3 HRs)
  • 22 RBI
  • 22 steals (in 26 chances)
Those numbers put Gardner in the top 10 in 4 major offensive statistical categories in the AL.  He's currently 9th in batting average, 10th in on-base, 5th in runs scored, and tied for 3rd in stolen bases.  Not too shabby for a guy who went into the season with plenty of people, some within his own organization, questioning whether or not he was capable of being a full-time Major League player.  And within these great numbers is proof that Gardner is more than able to handle left-handed pitching, something that was a major concern for the Yankees.  His tripleslash against lefties this season is .295/.371/.410.

But All-Star selection is about more than just good stats and exceeding expectations, and selections are based on position, so Gardner has to be looked at against his fellow outfielders to truly determine if he's worthy.  Luckily for Gardner, his numbers look even better when stacked up against the rest of the AL outfield.
  • His .322 average is 3rd amongst AL outfielders, behind only perennial All-Star Ichiro and Magglio Ordonez.
  • His 44 runs scored are 2nd amongst outfielders, behind only Carl Crawford's 50.
  • His .406 OBP is 1st amongst outfielders, leading Ordonez by a slim margin and making Gardner and Mags the only 2 AL OFs with a .400+ on-base.
  • His .842 OPS is 10th amongst outfielders, and better than that of Ichiro and Crawford.
No matter how you cut it, Gardner has been one of the top 10, if not one of the top 5 outfielders in the AL this year.  And he's done it with just 202 at-bats, which is anywhere from 20 to 60 fewer than his major competitors.  Who knows?  Give him those 50-60 more and we may be talking about the AL outfield leader in average, runs, steals, and OBP.

And as if that wasn't enough, Gardner has played stellar outfield defense this season, splitting his time between left and center and making the transition back and forth between the two look seamless.  He has made only 1 error on the season, which was made on a shitty throw home in the season opener against Boston, and has a perfect fielding percentage in center field.  Sure, his UZR ratings are both in the slight negatives this year for both OF spots, but UZR is a funky stat anyway that doesn't take a lot of other factors into account.  The bottom line is, Brett Gardner has played Gold Glove-caliber defense to go along with his excellent all-around offense.

It's doubtful Gardner will get a nod to the All-Star Game, even with his manager calling the shots to fill out the roster.  But the case can certainly be made and Joe certainly could make a solid argument for including one more of his guys.  Jeter, Cano, and Mo are shoo-ins, Swish should be there, and Pettitte and Hughes will most likely make the team unless they fall apart over the next month.  That's 6 Yankees right there, and although 7 from one team would be a lot, it's not unheard of.  Usually the best team at the break has the most representation, and if the Yankees continue to play the way they have and Gardner keeps putting up the numbers he has, he's got a legitimate case to be included as the 5th or 6th All-Star outfielder.

Midweek Linkapalooza Fun

More quality stuff from around the Yankee blogosphere.  As usual, all of it is better than my slop.

- Joe Paw at RAB looks at Frankie Cervelli's jaw-dropping numbers with RISP this season.  447/.500/.553 is an incredible triple slash for ANYBODY in baseball, especially somebody who was always considered not enough of a stick to play every day in the Majors.  It must be the helmet.

- LoHud has some details on Yankee first-round pick Cito Culver and his decision to skip on his commitment to Maryland.  No word on whether or not this move will affect Jeter's contract negotiations.

- 2 pieces from TYU regarding All-Star selections, one good and one bad: 

- Stephen R. rains on Andy Pettitte's parade by arguing that Pettitte doesn't deserve an All-Star selection.  Come on, dude!  Really?!?!  Don't get me wrong, I like sabermetrics as much as the next guy, but that's not what the All-Star game is about.  It's about giving props for a job well done and giving fans who they want to see.  And when a 38-year-old guy is rocking it with the best young arms in the game, he deserves to be there no matter what his xFIP is.

- On the other side of the All-Star poo-pooing coin is Chris H. pleading with Yankee fans to not vote for Teix.  Now this I can get on board with.  Teix has been awful and pretty much every stat you can think of supports that.  I'd rather he use the All-Star break to get his shit together.

- Rob at BBD has some good stuff on the resurgence of Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances.  Sure these guys are still a long ways away from being "serious" prospects, but it is encouraging to see these 2 monsters putting up the big numbers many people thought they were capable of.

- Last but not least, el duque from It Is High... poses a pretty reasonable question after the way last night's game went.

It's Wednesday, people.  And it's already half over.  That's good news.

How To Kill A Yankee Killer

(Photo courtesy of The AP)

How's 8 hits, 2 walks, 6 earned runs, and 3 home runs by left-handed batters in 6 innings sound?

Roy Halladay became the latest in a long line of media-created "Yankee killers" to get his dick smashed in by the Bombers last night.  Granted, Halladay actually has a long track record of success to speak of against the Yanks, unlike Josh Beckett, Scott Kazmir, or John Lackey, but baseball is a "what have you done for me lately?" sport and Halladay looked anything but a killer last night, except if you count him killing his team's chances to win.  The Yankees jumped on him early and jumped on him often and save for a blip on the radar in the 4th inning, it was smooth sailing from there.

The offense continues to get it from all sources.  C-Grand was 2-5 with a HR and is now hitting .276/.358/.551 since coming off the DL; Swish was 2-5 with another HR, 2 RBIs, and 2 runs scored, and continued to make his case for an All-Star selection; Teix cranked what turned out to be the shortest homer in the Majors this year and helped creep his average closer to .230; and Brett Gardner and Frankie Cervelli each had big 2-run hits to get things started and close things out offensively.  In case you haven't noticed, Gardner is hitting .322/.406/.436 on the season with 22 RBIs, 22 steals, and 44 runs scored, and despite cooling off from his torrid start Cervelli now has 29 RBIs on the season.  Fuck rushing A-Rod back.  Let the guy's groin, hip, and hooves rest if the rest of the team is going to play like this.

And it was another solid if not stellar outing for CC last night.  He started out like a house of fire, striking out 6 through 3 shutout innings before running into trouble in the 4th and 5th.  His high pitch count through those 2 innings almost certainly sapped him of his sharpness for the rest of the game, as he only recorded one more K before leaving after 7, but after the 5th CC bore down and got the job done, and at the end of the day he still put up 7 innings of 3-run ball to get the win.  He still isn't all the way back to top form (only 17 out of 30 first pitch strikes), but he's getting better, getting the job done, and still picking up wins for his team.

Last night was Philly's best chance to get a win in this series and they got absolutely smashed.  Now they have to hope and pray that Kyle Kendrick and Jamie Moyer don't continue to pitch as horribly as they have this season, otherwise they can kiss any hope of revenge goodbye with the weekly garbage.