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Melky & Brett: Neither a Starter Nor a Reserve Be

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Melky Cabrera

Brett Gardner

.274/.336/.416

OPS: .752

wOBA: .331

EQA:.259

UZR/150: -2

BB: 8.1% K: 12.2%

LD: 20.9% GB: 49.5% FB: 29.6%

.270/.345/.379

OPS: .724

wOBA: .337

EQA: .264

UZR/150: 15.4

BB: 9.5% K: 16.1%

LD: 18.1% GB: 49.0% FB: 32.8%

All those numbers are just a really long way to say, these guys are pretty interchangeable.

Despite Joe G.'s insistence on treating Gardner as a 4th outfielder throughout the playoffs, Gardner is the more valuable player in my eyes because of his superior batting eye. Melky has an edge in slugging (equivalent to turning 18 singles into doubles over the course of 500 ABs). I also prefer Gardner's greater range over Melky's arm.

Gardner won the starting job out of spring training, then lost it by hitting .220/.254/.271 in April.

As a split-time situation (hard to call it a platoon when Gardner hit lefties better than he hit righties in a small sample, and Melky saw twice as many ABs against righties than lefties) developed, neither player could win the job outright, but each seemed to heat up as the other cooled off. Gardner outperformed Melky in May and June (.937 OPS to .732), then Melky began to heat up in July (.819 to .621).

And when Gardner hit the DL with a broken finger at the end of July, Melky reminded the world why he needs a partner in CF by hitting .260/.322/.395 for the rest of the season.

Either player could probably be a starter on any other team, counting on his above average defense to make up for his bats weakest moments. But, we are the Yankees, with a legacy of slugging center fielders. Patience is, at the best of times, short.

Objectively speaking, we shouldn't hand the starting job to either player, not for Gardner's epic defense (though I'd be ok with it) and not for our happy memories of Melky's walkoff hits.