A little over two weeks ago, Brett Gardner was the latest victim of the New York injury bug, landing on the injured list with a knee injury. With Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Mike Tauchman, and Cameron Maybin all healthy, it was hard to see where Gardy would fit in when he returned. However, Hicks would later trade places with Gardner, as he took a trip to the IL with an elbow injury. Ever since, Gardner has been playing exceptional baseball.
Prior to his IL stint, Gardner had pretty average offensive numbers, specifically his power numbers. Though the Yankee outfielder is not known as your traditional “power hitter” he has shown some pop in his bat as of late, in the form of two homers, an insane .350 ISO, and nine extra-base hits since his return. To put that into perspective, he has an average ISO of .137 in 10-year career.
It’s hard to tell if there’s a specific reason for Gardner’s sudden power spike, or if it’s just chance, but maybe the rise in power numbers could be directly related to a change in the placement of his hands and bat head when up at the plate. He’s been keeping his hands higher up and closer to his head compared to having his hands lower, and the knob of his bat pointing somewhat downwards. His bat is also more horizontal than where he had it previously, perhaps putting him in a better position to explode at the ball and generate power.
Over his last 12 games since his return, Gardner is slashing a .375/.444/.725 with an OPS of 1.169 and an incredible 202 wRC+. A big reason for his success is that he’s been able to put the ball in play, striking out just seven times in 45 plate appearances, to go along with a .419 average on balls in play! Add his hard contact percentage of 42.4% in there, and you can see why he’s been such a tough out lately.
Like always, his defense has also been extremely solid as well. Moreover, if you want to include the amount of times Gardner has banged his bat on the roof of a dugout (multiple times), or been ejected for saying absolutely nothing to the umpire (1) since his return, you can do that too.
In his most recent game against Baltimore, Gardy came to the plate with the bases loaded, and when his at-bat was over, all three runs crossed the plate. A bases-clearing triple, the fourth of his career but first since 2016, gave the Yanks an early 3-0 lead in the first inning. What was even more impressive was that it was a lefty vs. lefty matchup, and Gardy was still able to take an inside pitch and rifle it the other way into the left-center gap.
This hot streak came at a good time for him and the Yankees. He collected four hits against the rival Red Sox, helping them bury Boston further down the in the AL East. With him being a free agent after this season, Gardner may be having one of his best seasons in recent years. Though he signed a one-year deal prior to the season, every hot streak he puts together will make it harder and harder for the Bombers to say goodbye to their longest-tenured player at the end of the year. Instead of slumping through the second-half, he’s streaking through August and propelling the Yankees, even with their stars out.