A brutal month of May had Brett Gardner flirting with the Mendoza Line through two months into the season, but the 33-year-old was able to recover and finish the season with reasonable numbers. After a surprise boost in power the last two seasons, the left fielder reverted back to more of his contact-hitting ways and totaled just seven home runs. Gardner also only stole 16 bases, representing a third straight year of decline in that department. On the plus side, he continued to demonstrate a terrific eye and posted a 0.66 BB/K that helped contribute to a .351 OBP. That, along with Jacoby Ellsbury's struggles, led manager Joe Girardi to move Gardner to the leadoff spot for the majority of the year -- a spot where he actually drove in more runs than when hitting second. As he's set to return as the starter in left field; expect more of the same.
Gardner will make an effort to be more aggressive on the base paths in the upcoming season, Brandon Kuty of NJ.com reports. After swiping 47 bags in 2010 and then a personal-best 49 bases in 2011, Gardner hasn't even reached half of that mark in a single season in the five years since, and he was limited to just five stolen bases (seven attempts) in the second half of 2016. Being able to regain that weapon would be a huge plus for the 33-year-old, as there otherwise isn't much there from a fantasy perspective following a 2016 campaign that resulted in just seven home runs and a .261/.351/.362 slash line.
Gardner is not in the lineup for Friday's game against the Orioles. Gardner has not had a day off since Sept. 9, so manager Joe Girardi decided to give him one Friday night. Mason Williams will get the start in left field in Gardner's place.
Gardner went 1-for-3 with a walk in Saturday's 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays. The veteran leadoff man has now hit safely in seven of eight games and was the only Yankee to get on base more than once Saturday. He's tallied five multi-hit outings in September but has not homered since back on July 30 against the Rays.
Gardner went 3-for-4 with a double and one RBI in Sunday's loss to the Rays. The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Yankees, but Gardner continued to stay hot, as he logged his fourth multi-hit game in his last four starts. He also added a stolen base Sunday -- his first attempt since July 17 -- which was an element owners likely expected to see more out of this year, as his 14 stolen bases are his fewest in a full season since his rookie campaign. For now though, the 33-year-old is making up for it at the plate with a .333 average in September as he looks to finish the year up strong.
Gardner is not in the lineup Friday against the Rays, Erik Boland of Newsday reports. Gardner is coming off of consecutive multi-hit efforts, but the lefty will head to the bench Friday with southpaw Blake Snell set to toe the rubber for Tampa Bay. In his stead, Rob Refsnyder will draw the start in left field and bat second.