New York Yankees: Analyzing Brett Gardner as the Leadoff Hitter

Perry ArnoldSenior Analyst IApril 15, 2011

Gardner is Lost at the Plate Right Now
Gardner is Lost at the Plate Right NowAndrew Burton/Getty Images

During spring training, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi made the decision to elevate Brett Gardner to the leadoff slot in the Bombers' batting order.

After 11 games Gardner is hitting under .200 and also has an anemic on-base percentage.

But there is more to the story.

Watching Gardner, he seems uncomfortable at the plate. He is not swinging at the ball. Instead he is slapping at it.

Last night, in the Yankees win over Baltimore, Gardner struck out three times. For the most part he seemed to have no plan at the plate.

He was late on almost every pitch. Although he had some long at-bats fouling off pitch after pitch, almost every foul was on a late swing in which he weakly tapped the ball  down the third-base line.

It almost seems as though Gardner is not picking the ball up very well. He takes a lot of strikes and swings on bad pitches too often for a good leadoff hitter.

Gardner is not getting on base much, but when he does, he seems to be clueless in what is supposed to be his most efficient area.

Gardner is praised mostly for his speed. But one example of Gardner running the bases came on an attempted steal in a game earlier this week.

Gardner got a good jump as Derek Jeter took a strike at the plate. But cameras caught Gardner's path toward second, where he would be thrown out easily by Orioles catcher Matt Wieters.

Gardner had taken about eight strides when he took a look toward home. Okay, many runners do that, even though the greatest base stealers teach against it.

But about halfway to second, Gardner hesitated in his stride. He seemed to actually reconsider his steal attempt, and he was thrown out by two feet.

Gardner stole 47 sacks last season, and that was a major reason for making him the leadoff hitter.

He is not a good base stealer though. He is too hesitant when standing on first and is reluctant to go on the best running counts. There is no way to determine whether he runs on his own accord, but he misses opportunities, which can affect the hitter at the plate (especially Derek Jeter).

Gardner seems lost on the field right now, except defensively.