He wasn't even sure if he'd be the starting left fielder throughout the off-season, given the Yankees' propensity to try to acquire the best talent possible. But in the end, Gardner was given a chance to play every day. And since the year began he hasn't lost his spot.So far, the speedster is hitting .312/.394/.417 with 3 HR, 22 RBI and 22 stolen bases, and has been very good in both left and center.
"He's been tremendous through the first 69 games," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said "He's played center field. He's played left field. He's done everything we've asked of him."
He's also hit everywhere in the lineup - from lead-off all the way down to ninth - and been more much more potent with his bat than anyone could have hoped.
"I just try to get on base and play good defense," Gardner said. "Our lineup is so good that if I get on base, the guys that we have are going to get me in."
He's been much more than a guy who gets on base and plays good defense. Quietly, by hustling and being his team's spark plug, Gardner has been the Yankees' unsung hero.
He's not a home run hitter or an RBI guy so he flies under the radar, but his value should not be ignored. His WAR (wins over replacement) is 1.8, which ties him with A-Rod third best on the team. Also, according to Fangraphs, he's been worth $7.2 to the Yankees this year based on their "dollars" stat. That's good for sole possession of third on the team. His 17.5 RAR (runs above replacement) is also third on the team.
No matter which way you want to look at it, Gardner has been great for the Yankees so far this year.