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Apr 262010

Brett Gardner is batting .340/.436/.404/.841. I’m going to repeat that. Because it bears repeating. Brett Gardner is hitting .340/.436/.404/.841. Now, a few things–obviously, it’s a small sample and I don’t think Gardner will even dream of keeping this up. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t examine what Brett’s doing during this hot streak to start the year.

One of the knocks on Gardner was that he’s stuck out way too much for a guy with as little power as he has. So far in 2010, he’s cut down on the whiffs. He’s got just five strikeouts, compared to seven walks, good for a 10.6 K%, which is a full ten points below the league average (20.6%). Last year, Gardner was at a 16% strikeout rate.

As noted, Gardner has more walks than strikeouts. As he has knocked a few points off of his strikeout rate, he’s bumped his walk rate up a bit. He’s all the way up to 12.5% this year, about three points over the league average (9.4) and where he was last year (9.2). Any time a player can down his strikeout rate and up his walk rate, he’s going to be improved. Hopefully, this is a trend that continues.

Of course, walking is only part of one’s offensive game. So, let’s look at how Gardner’s done when he’s put the bat on the ball. While I’ve joked with friends that Gardner can’t hit the ball to the outfield, perhaps that’s a good thing. After all, with his lack of power and abundance of speed, it’s better that he hit the ball on the ground. Gardner has done a good job thus far of keeping the ball on the ground. His ground ball rate this season is 65.9%, compared to just 49% last season. He’s also been able to keep outfield fly balls down, too. He’s at just 17.1% compared to over 32% in 2009. Gardner hasn’t been hitting many liners, down a full percentage point to 17.1, but he’s still been able to rack up the hits. Those groundballs must have eyes.

I hope this keeps up, but I’m not holding my breath. Brett is BABIPing .381 right now, though his career BABIP is just .311. It’s likely that as the weeks go on, some of those grounders will find the gloves of infielders and the lack of line drives will hurt. For now, though, Gardner’s been able to have a hot April for a few reasons: he’s walked a lot, struck out very little, and kept the ball on the ground and I’ll definitely take it.

5 Responses to “Inside Brett’s Hot Start”

  1. It seems like he has started hitting more line drives this week. I still think he’s going to hit enough to be a valuable starter with his defense. I wish he’d play every day and that they throw Thames’ glove away.  (Quote)

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  2. Actually, Bret is a strong guy for his size who could hit it hard before Yankees started fooling with his swing.They’d rather he was a punch and Judy hitter but he can hit a ball to the 400 feet sign, we’ve seen it.Let’s see how this works out with the hitting down on the ball with no stride which is what they told him to do.If he hits .300 and scores a lot of runs, I won’t mind what they did with his swing.  (Quote)

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  3. Brett Gardner highlights, he had quite a few.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4_VHmSiBag  (Quote)

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  4. Gardner has been doing great thus far, and I hope he can keep it up. While his BABIP is quite high, we can expect it to be pretty good, because when he puts the ball on the ground it can be tough to throw him out. I enjoy the speed he brings to the offense (which we have been lacking for a while) and his 9 SB so far put him second in baseball, and he hasn’t played every day. At this point Gardner should be given full time duty, especially with the defense we’ve seen from Thames..  (Quote)

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  5. I love his ability to adjust to every level. He’s a cerebral, tough-minded guy that I’ve always thought had what it takes. He has the ability to improve and adjust that not all guys have.  (Quote)

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