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Is Gardner the best baseball occupation?

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How does Brett do against the Butchers, Bakers, and Candlestick Makers of the baseball world?

League Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game Six Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Okay, yes, the name “Gardner” is technically not spelled the same as the word gardener. On the other hand, it seems incredibly likely that it etymologically evolved from it. That means it probably is one of several surnames that are derived from some sort of profession. By most historical accounts, names of the likes of Baker, Carpenter, Butcher, and others originated in England. People who have one of those last name probably have ancestors hundreds of years back that worked the profession whose name they now bear.

Therefore, we might be able to infer that Brett Gardner had an ancestor who might’ve been a gardener. He’s far from the only one with a surname of that type. There are dozens of the aforementioned “occupation names” throughout baseball history, many of which Gardner would’ve faced.

With that in mind, you know what we need to do. How does Brett Gardner do against other players with occupations for last names?

First we’ll examine how he does against fellow players the traditional -er names. That includes a Hunter, a Miller, multiple Weavers, a Shoemaker, a Farmer, a Butcher, a Baker (sadly no Candlestick Makers), among others. Gardner is okay against this set. He’s 23-85 career against them, but just six of those hits went for extra bases, and his OPS is only .726. The pitcher he’s does the best against is former teammate Andrew Miller, against whom Gardner is 2-5 with three walks.

Next, we’ll expand that sample size. We’ll add in the many Smiths and Cooks, but also some players that are not quite as obvious but still do describe an occupation (hello, Glenn Sparkman). We’ll thrown in the likes of Chris Archer, Brandon Workman, Kendall Graveman, and even John Lackey.

He does slightly better against this set, putting up a .753 OPS. He hits for a decent amount of power against this grouping (11 doubles, five home runs), but he doesn’t quite have the on-base prowess (.338) to be truly good against them.

That said, one of the players in this set is arguably the most important head-to-head battle of any of Gardner’s head-to-head matchups. In that one, the Yankees’ outfielder has done quite well, putting up a .858 OPS in 57 plate appearances. Who is that against? Sort of gardener synonym Chris Tillman, obviously.

However, if we go along the lines of Tillman, we can find a set of players against which Gardner does extremely well again: names related to gardening. Admittedly, some of the names included here a bit of a stretch (Darren Oliver. olives are grown, whatever). Gardner crushes them to the tune of a .300/.395/.445 triple slash line. If Chad Green leaves the Yankees while Gardner is still playing, he better look out.

Unlike past attempts to prove these very dumb hypotheses, Gardner is not quite the best against “occupation” last names as I had hoped. On the other hand, he does better against them than he’s done in his at-bats against Sean Doolittle (0-5), so there’s that.