The esteemed Dave Cameron of FanGraphs fame has taken a look at our li'l gritty gutty Brett Gardner. The conclusion he reaches surprises me a little:
He’s already one of the best base stealers in the game (30 for 33), and his +10.6 range runs 600 innings as a major league center fielder suggest he might be an elite defensive player even without the crazy throwing. If the Yankees can really expect +5 to +10 runs per year from Gardner’s arm, in addition to above average range, and crazy good base stealing efficiency, then he’s worth an everyday line-up spot even with his .698 OPS in the majors.
Cameron's point is to try to figure out whether GGBG's +8.4 throwing rating is a fluke or the real deal, since the extrapolated +17 would easily be the best in the majors.
But the conclusion, that if Gardner is as effective over a full season as he has been in half a season, then Brett Gardner should be the everyday center fielder.
Yankee fans, do we buy it?
Sure, Brett Gardner is leading AL Rookies in VORP by more than 2 full games. Sure, GGBG's triple slash runs .287/.360/.416 and he's cut his strikeout rate from 17% of his PA as a minor leaguer to 14% this season. Sure, he's got a 86% stolen base rate and is on pace to steal 30 bags.
As CrazyYankeeChich mentioned yesterday, Gardner is a Rookie of the Year front-runner, but at 26, is he the answer for the next 4-5 years in CF?