Every year the Major League Baseball All-Star rosters are revealed in early July, and every year there is controversy surrounding puzzling inclusions and exclusions. One exclusion, however, has not gotten the attention it deserves. New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner should be in Minnesota for his first All-Star game.
Gardner has been electric atop the Yankees’ sluggish lineup this season. He’s hitting the ball with force slashing an admirable .287/.361/.430 line on top of stellar defense and base running. A valuable skill he brings to the table that often goes unheralded, is his ability to work the count. Gardner ranks third in baseball in pitches per plate appearances at 4.49. This is an essential aspect of his game because he makes opposing pitchers throw a lot of pitches, thus chasing them from the game earlier.
The 30-year-old’s all-around game forges him into one of the best outfielders in the game, yet, like his ability to see a lot of pitches, no one seems to notice. Fortunately, with the Yankees’ offense scuffling the past two seasons, Gardner’s aptitude is starting to shine.
Nevertheless, even with Gardner’s steady production, people tend to stick with the argument that the six outfielders chosen were more deserving. While Michael Brantley, Alex Gordon, Adam Jones, Mike Trout, and Jose Bautista have irrefutably been better than Gardner this year, in no way, shape, or form has Yoenis Cespedes been more worthy. Below are their comparative numbers.
Yoenis Cespedes: .260/.314/.466, 116 wRC+, 1 stolen base, 2.2 fWAR.
Brett Gardner: .287/.361/.430, 121 wRC+, 15 stolen bases, 2.8 fWAR.
As you can see, Gardner trumps Cespedes in every statistical category with the exception of slugging percentage. Even then, he’s been better on offense than Cespedes, which is indicated by his superior wRC+. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know Gardner is better defensively and on the base paths, too — and that’s backed up by the numbers.
The Athletics have six other representatives (if you count Jeff Samardzija), so it’s not as if he “had” to go to adhere to the policy that every team needs an All-Star. It shows, rather, that to this day, Brett Gardner remains very underrated.