Making the Case: Brett Gardner Is the Most Valuable Rookie in the AL

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Making the Case: Brett Gardner Is the Most Valuable Rookie in the AL
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

In the great game of baseball, certain guys have abilities that are absolutely invaluable to their teams.

These guys are not always All-Stars, but what they bring to the table is needed when the team is trying to win.

Some call them role players, and that name helps define what these guys are. But that name does not always give them the all the credit they deserve.

Brett Gardner is that kind of guy.

His stats reflect a guy who steps up to do the little things, which eventually turn into big things, and does whatever his manager asks him to do.

Whether it is starting in place of a star that needs the day off, stepping up when someone is injured, getting that clutch hit when it counts, or stealing a base, Gardner has done it all.

His stats aren't amazing, but I wouldn't expect them to be. That is not the player that Gardner is right now.

His season stats pan out this way: In 74 games this season, he is batting .286 with three home runs, 19 runs batted in, and an on-base percentage of .776. Gardner also has stolen 18 bases, and has only been caught three times.

Gardner is the most valuable rookie right now because he shines in certain areas for the Yankees that they have not seen in awhile.

Watching Yankee games this season with Gardner in the lineup has been an absolute delight.

Gardner gives that element of surprise and quickness that the Yankees haven't been known for in a while, due to their lineup being stacked with sluggers rather than speedsters.

Gardner is the kind of player who can turn any ball that rolls to the warning track into a triple, and any routine triple with a small outfield error into an inside-the-park home run.

If you are an outfielder, with a guy like Gardner at the plate, you better not make too bad of a mistake.

Just ask the Twins' Denard Span.

How valuable is Gardner's speed to the Yankees?

Well, the last guy to hit an inside-the-park home run for the Bombers was Ricky Ledee in August of 1999.

Gardner is constantly a threat to rob a base, as pitchers can be seen focusing on him. And when their minds wander, they will throw worse pitches over the plate.

Gardner is the kind of guy who is going to hit the ball and run like Hell, so that means any bobble in the infield will get him to first base.

And then the games begin. What games do I speak of?

The little game that Gardner will play with the pitcher, forcing him to keep checking him before taking off with his blinding speed and taking second, and after that, maybe third.

Gardner has the raw ability needed to produce at what he is going to be asked to do by any manager.

He has been a sure glove in the outfield and has breakneck speed around the bases.

The hitting will come with more experience against major league pitchers.

In the most recent series against the Twins, Gardner picked up four more RBI, which helped the Yankees win both of those games.

I'm sure Gardner will continue to be a strong part of the Yankee's success, and may be on his way to a Rookie of the Year award.

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