The New York Yankees’ offense faded in the second half of 2015 and Brett Gardner’s struggles mirrored those of the Yankees’ overall production. Therefore, the outfielder has put his future with the team in a precarious position, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News writes.
At age 32, Gardner’s age does not appear to be the reason for him slowing down, literally and figuratively. Despite his weak finish, Gardner’s 2015 season was still a productive one.
For starters, Gardner made his first All-Star team as a fill-in for Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon. His overall numbers were a.256 BA with 16 HR and 66 RBI in 151 games. But as Feinsand writes, his drop-off after July 28 was as drastic as anybody in the league.
Through July 28, the speedy Gardner was hitting.296 with 11 HR and 15 stolen bases. With statistics like that, the Yankees appeared to be in good shape heading down the stretch and into the playoffs. However, after that date, Gardner became a liability in the lineup.
As Feinsand writes, Gardner hit a mere.196 with five HR and 20 RBI in 58 games from July 29 onward. After the Yankees’ season ended with a 3-0 loss to the Houston Astros this past Tuesday, Gardner talked about his disappointing finish to 2015.
“Very disappointed about how this season ended – and the way my season ended; the way I played down the stretch. I take a lot of pride in getting on base and scoring runs, doing those types of things. The last part of the season, I didn’t do a good job of that. It’s going to be tough for me to let this go for a little bit.”
However, as Feinsand points out, Gardner experienced an eerily similar slump to finish out 2014. After hitting.279 through the All-Star break, Gardner slumped after the break, hitting just.218 the rest of the way. He finished last year with similar numbers to 2015 as well, hitting.259 with 17 HR and 58 RBI.
Another thing that is key to mention is Gardner stopped utilizing his speed. From June 12 and August 11, Gardner did not attempt a stolen base, something many are attributing to undisclosed injuries. Gardner’s lack of stolen bases even left manager Joe Girardi wondering why his outfielder stopped running.
“There is no answer. Part of it is he wasn’t on nearly as much the second half and teams pay attention to him a lot. But that’s something that probably needs to be addressed because we need that out of him.”
The Yankees will enter 2016 with two outfielders who have similar skill sets and similarly finished 2015 on negative notes. Gardner signed a four-year, $52 million extension prior to the 2014 season. However, prior to that contract being inked, there were several rumors regarding Gardner being included in trades for help at second base.
The Cincinnati Reds reportedly offered veteran Brandon Phillips in exchange for Gardner, according to USA Today. But the Yankees rejected that trade. At this point, getting a player like Phillips is the most realistic return for Gardner, a 32-year-old outfielder whose entire game is predicated on speed and has finished the past two seasons in abysmal fashion.
Whatever the issue was — injuries, inconsistency, or just fatigue, Gardner’s struggles were one of many reasons for the Yankees poor finish. But he is not using it as an excuse heading into 2016.
“I just didn’t play well; I’m not going to sit here and make excuses. I was inconsistent, or you could say I was consistently bad, whichever way you want to put it. I was just unable to continue with what I had going in the first half.”
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