The New York Yankees have a variety of nicknames: The Bronx Zoo, The Evil Empire and most importantly, the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees are notoriously known for hitting home runs in their small Yankee Stadium ballpark that was practically built for them. But in 2008, one player came up from the minor leagues and single-handedly changed the way that the Yankees play baseball. As a matter of fact, he changed the way the Yankees scored their runs. That key piece to the Yankees goes by the name of Brett Gardner.
Brett Gardner isn’t known for being a home run hitter (but he does have some pop in his bat). Gardner’s game differs than every other player on the team; he uses his legs to play the game. In 2010 when Gardner played his first full season he did something that no other Yankee had been able to do since the days of Ricky Henderson; Brett Gardner swiped 47 bases. He uses his speed in many different ways, whether it’s to steal a base or easily advance himself from first to third or for his stellar defense in the outfield. Brett Gardner also brought something else to the table when he came to the Yankees; the art of ABC baseball and manufacturing runs. Manager Joe Girardi claims that Brett Gardner is the only player on the team that is able to create a run, something that is big when you are in the play-offs. Yes, the other teams in the league weren’t prepared for the speedier New York Yankees, which was probably why Gardner swiped 49 bases in 2011.
The Yankees haven’t been able to have Gardner as a luxury in 2012 after Gardner landed himself on the disabled list with a strained elbow on April 17. That was then when the dynamics of the team changed once again. The Yankees suddenly relied on the long ball to win games and they were close to last place on the Major League Baseball list of hitting with runners in scoring position. The Bronx Bombers were living up to their name which was somewhat of a bad thing. It seemed the Yankees abandoned everything they knew about speed. Derek Jeter doesn’t steal a lot of bases, Eduardo Nunez is in the minor leagues and Curtis Granderson has the speed but he’s more known for his power bat. That was when fans realized that they missed Brett Gardner more than they thought.
The Yankees are two completely different teams with Brett Gardner in and out of the lineup, which makes sense for me to dub them the “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” of baseball. Hitting home runs may work for now, but when the postseason rolls by and the Yankees are facing tough pitching, they just might turn to Brett Gardner who shows the Yankees have a need for some serious speed.