Brett Gardner’s above average bat, average glove
Believe it or not, but, according to defensive metrics, Yankee outfielder, Brett Gardner, has not had an above average glove this season. Gardner’s UZR in left field currently stands at -0.5, which is an average mark (his UZR/150 is -2.4), while his UZR in center field sits at -1.5 (his UZR/150 is -6.0). In addition, Gardner’s RZR and OOZ are primarily average measures, as well. Now, this season’s figures are obviously small samples and do not necessarily indicate Gardner’s level of defense, overall – if you look at his numbers across 2008-2010, you would still deem him an above average fielder – however, as of right now – this year – it seems as though Gardner has been somewhat “disappointing” as a defensive player.
It’s not that he has been bad, of course. Rather, according to the defensive metrics, he has been average, which most of us did not expect going into the season. I think it’s fair to say that most of us expected the speedy Gardner to play exceptional defense while offering an anemic level of offensive output. That production, or lack thereof, would then be mitigated by the spectacular fielding. Strangely, the opposite has actually occurred. Gardner’s offense has been above average at his primary position (left field), as he is currently batting a robust .312/.394/.417 – this year, the average left fielder in the American League is hitting just .269/.334/.427 – and his defense has been decidedly average (according to defensive metrics).
Currently, with his strong batting and average fielding, Gardner is valued at 1.6 WAR. Imagine how much higher that number would be if he were posting Carl Crawford-like defense? He is certainly capable of being better defensively, so perhaps that level of play has yet to come. After all, the season is still young. Still, it would be sort of funny if Gardner ended the year at 3+ WAR because of his bat and not his glove.
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