Kevin Long compares Brett Gardner to Kenny Lofton
Over the weekend, hitting instructor, Kevin Long, spoke a bit about the virtues of Brett Gardner, the Yankees’ left fielder this season. “I think he’s a great player,” Long said. “I’m a big, big Brett Gardner fan. I think he’s going to do terrific. I’m excited for the fact that he’s going to get to start a ton of games. I don’t feel like there’s pressure, like he has to go out and perform in the first two weeks, otherwise he’s out.” Long went on to say that he thinks Gardner, hitting at the bottom of the Yankee lineup, could steal 65-70 bases this season, while batting .270 or .280, and scoring 100 runs.
Added to those projections, however, was a very complimentary comparison, with Long drawing similarities between Gardner and the forcibly retired Kenny Lofton, who was a tremendous player (particularly in the 90’s, while with Cleveland). “Kenny was a bigger, more physical player, or [physical] looking player,” said Long. “But Gardy could do what Kenny Lofton did. I wouldn’t see why he couldn’t.” While I think this comparison has its merits, particularly in terms of both speed and defense, I think we should probably pump the brakes a bit with regards to the offense. For one, Lofton had more power than Gardner does, and, although Gardner’s career has yet to written, based on his minor-league numbers, I don’t think we’ll see him hit for as high an average as Lofton once did. Juan Pierre, Nyjer Morgan, Reggie Willits (in 2007), and Michael Bourn are probably better – i.e., more realistic – comparisons.
Anyway, like Long, I’m eager to see what Gardner can do with a full season’s worth of playing time.
Photo by the AP