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  1. I’ve been talking about this exact comparison for what seems like forever (this offseason) at RiverAveBlues.

    I’ve been called pretty much everything negative under the sun for it with pretty much no one backing me up.

    But I’m glad I’m not alone in thinking it is possible for Gritner to be the next Nyjer Morgan, who I’d take in a second to roam CF in YSIII.

    Comment by Jordan — February 19, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

  2. Why not platoon Gardner with Granderson? Yes, they’re both lefties, but Gardner is a much, much better hitter against lefties than Granderson is.

    Comment by Alex Remington — February 19, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

  3. Dude, I practically live at RAB. You’re full of it. I’ve never even heard of you.

    Comment by the artist formerly known as (sic) — February 19, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

  4. You could, I suppose, play Granderson and Gardner against RHP, but sit Granderson and play Gardner in CF and Winn/Thames in LF against LHP.

    Only, however, if you are convinced Granderson really is THAT BAD against LHP. I’m not convinced yet, and I don’t think the Yankees are either. Winn/Thames kinda suck.

    I’m interested to see what Gardner can do over a full season. I love his defense & speed, I like his approach at the plate, but I hate his swing.

    Comment by Rob in CT — February 19, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

  5. I’ve been around RAB a lot and I’ve never seen the Morgan comparison made. I’ve seen people argue Gardner is a good player, sure.

    Comment by Rob in CT — February 19, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

  6. Why relegate a projected above-average regular to a platoon spot against southpaw pitchers? Why give more plate appearances to Randy Winn, a lesser player?

    Comment by Jamal G. — February 19, 2010 @ 4:23 pm

  7. I, too, visit RAB quite frequently and a quick search of the website DOES show this discussion, albeit in the comments section, about such a comparison:

    http://riveraveblues.com/2009/12/left-field-closing-arguments-reed-johnson-21818/

    Comment by Stryker — February 19, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

  8. I would love to see the Yankees just play Gardner in CF every day and see what happens. A 3 WAR from Gardner would be great, and I agree that it is somewhat realistic.

    Comment by TEH FEAR — February 19, 2010 @ 4:26 pm

  9. I was referring more to the “pretty much everything negative under the sun for it with pretty much no one backing me up” bullshit.

    Comment by the artist formerly known as (sic) — February 19, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

  10. ah. then no, that’s not true at all. there’s no negative name calling there at all.

    Comment by Stryker — February 19, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

  11. Does the 2.5-3-WAR projection for Gardner include his projected baserunning production?

    Comment by Jamal G. — February 19, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

  12. Just the steals. He is very good at adbancing on hits, but the variation between players isn’t that great… You could give him another couple runs for that, I suppose. The Yankees have so many power hitters from first to third on a single isn’t something that’s going to be necessary too often, unless (assuming Gardner’s hitting ninth, where he should) they really hit Jeter and Johnson 1-2 all the time, which they shouldn’t, but that’s another story.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — February 19, 2010 @ 5:06 pm

  13. The point is that Gardner hasn’t been getting “lucky” with balls in play.

    If anything, Gardner may have been a bit *unlucky* on BIP. Last year, his xBABIP was .320, and for his career it’s .332 (against an actual .306). Obviously xBABIP is just as subject to SSS fluctuations as anything else, but it’s based on stats that, IIRC, Pizza Cutter said stabilize fairly quickly.

    Comment by Kevin S. — February 19, 2010 @ 5:07 pm

  14. Out of curiosity, why not? Because the Book-optimal lineup has A-Rod hitting second as the Yanks best hitter? While I can appreciate the logic The Book uses (I own it and love it), I think we realistically know that when Girardi fills out the lineup card, Teix/A-Rod are going 3/4, and everything else works around that. Given that condition, there’s nothing wrong with going Jeter/OBP Jesus at the top of the order.

    Comment by Kevin S. — February 19, 2010 @ 5:10 pm

  15. Yeah, basically A-Rod and Teixeira should be hitting 2 and 4 in some combination, with Swisher hittng #3 (good isolated power). Johnson should lead off to avoid DPs (almost as bad as Jeter recently, at least I think so, no time to look). All those guys are better hitters than Jeter, and Jeter’s basestealing ability is wasted in front of A-Rod, Teixeira, and Swisher. Against RHP, at least, hit Granderson fifth – good power. hit Jeter #6, Granderson’s speed comes in handy in front of Jeter’s numous singles and doubles… and so on.

    Not that it makes much of a difference, but that’s what I’d do.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — February 19, 2010 @ 5:13 pm

  16. He actually doesn’t hit into as many as Jeter does, not this year and certainly not at the height of Cap’n Jetes’ 6-4-3 days. I didn’t control that for PA, but the difference was very significant. In the batted-ball data era, Johnson’s hit a ground ball in a little over 28% of his PA. Jeter ends more than 41% in that fashion. So, while his SB ability isn’t *as* important in front of the modern-day Murderer’s Row, I do think there are reasons to keep him atop the order.

    Comment by Kevin S. — February 19, 2010 @ 5:29 pm

  17. I just looked again — you’re right, Johnson is about 13% per opp rcently, Jeter at about 18% (average is about 115). Still, that’s not huge different in opps over the season. I’d rather give the superior hitter (especially against RHP) more PAs while leveraging Jeter’s speed in front of Cano, et. al. down below… But that’s just a guess, we’d need some sort of good Markov model that included baserunning/GiDPS and stuff to sort it all out.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — February 19, 2010 @ 6:48 pm

  18. Remember, Morgan’s 2009 batting is ONLY for 120 games, meaning it can be SSS and thus not representative of his true talent.

    For 2010, Oliver says Morgan, playing in Nats Park, is expected to see a 292/346/372 line, good for a 320 wOBA, 5.2 runs above replacement for CF. Add in a projected 5.3 SB runs and 12.7 fielding runs, for a +2.8 WAR.

    Gardner for the Yankess, 254/340/345, 310 wOBA, 5.7 batting runs, 6.2 SB runs, 3.3 fielding runs (only ‘Gd’ to Morgan’s ‘Vg’ to ‘Ex’) for a total +2.0 WAR.

    Not a lot of difference in the batter’s box, Gardner is a run or so better on SB but not as good on defense.

    Comment by Brian Cartwright — February 19, 2010 @ 9:02 pm

  19. Hey Brian, thanks for the comments. I can’t wait to see the all the Oliver projections.

    Just for the record, I wasn’t basing the projections just on 2010 stats, I didn’t really get into a 2010 projection for Morgan. I was using CHONE’s offensive projections, and my own regressed and adjusted defensive projections using UZR. So I wasn’t taking 2009 as true talent for either player. wOBA at FanGraphs includes SB/CS.

    CHONE’s own context-neutral linear weights (which doesn’t include SB/CS, I don’t think) has Morgan at -9/150, and Gardner at +1/150. My own positiona-neautral defensive projections for Morgan and Gardner are Morgan +17/162 (so about +13/150 in CF) , Gardner +10/162 (about +6 or +7/150 CF). Per 150 games (without SB/CS), then, that would be about 2.6 WAR for Morgan have Morgan at 2.6 WAR, and Gardner at about 2.9 WAR. I doubt either will play 150 games, though.

    Anyway, different projections use different methods, and maybe CHONE is too optimstic, or my defensive projections, or whatever. Just wanted to make sure you knew I was using projections and thus include regression, etc.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — February 19, 2010 @ 9:54 pm

  20. I like the odds that he breaks 2.8 WAR. I think it will depend more on playing time then anything else. If Girardi leans on too much from winn, then sadly this speedster will spend most of that time suffering. I think winn is being undervalued here though, his last season was almost shwisherean. That move fits into Cashman’s style of picking up that 4th outfielder who’s been bitten by the bad luck bug.

    Comment by t-lonious munk — February 19, 2010 @ 10:06 pm

  21. Gassko was riding me all winter to get everything done, but there is so much new stuff (pitching, defense, etc). Now it’s in the hands of the web developers at THT, working on the presentation.

    I didn’t really think you were using single season, but the way the opening paragraph was phrased

    “I did notice his (2009) Oliver projection for .308 wOBA — for a left fielder? [for the Nationals] was above average offensively, .340 wOBA (.307/.369/.388). ”

    could lead the reader to believe I had rendered a ‘bad’ projection. He overperformed expectations. It’s about 50/50 that a player keeps his one season gain, opposed to going back to near his previous level.

    Comment by Brian Cartwright — February 19, 2010 @ 11:58 pm

  22. Just a note: RF and LF corner defense is not anywhere near the same these days. Conservatively it’s something like LF -9, CF +3, RF -3, with LF and RF arguably going lower but keeping a 6 R difference.

    Comment by Eric M. Van — February 20, 2010 @ 7:20 am

  23. I’ve said it before, but in 2010, the Yanks LF will (significantly) out-WAR Johnny Damon. I’m going to say 4.5 for Yanks and 2.8 for Damon.

    Comment by pete — February 20, 2010 @ 9:06 am

  24. I made a Brett Butler lite comparison with gardner last year on minorleagueball. He isn’t near that good a batter as folks pointed out, but Total Zone doesn’t make much of Butler’s fielding. And some scoffed at the idea he might start for the Yankees in 2010. Aside from all that, Butler is a pretty good player to have around and nice to see him recognized.

    Comment by wobatus — February 20, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

  25. That’s slightly unfair, because Damon’s not going to play every day, meaning that some of the bench-WAR should be added to Damon’s total, too.

    Comment by Kevin S. — February 20, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

  26. Hey Matt, good article. I have one nitpick, not relating to the actual argument!

    When you say he was worth 5 wins above replacement, that’s only true if he was actually a +27 defender in the outfield last year. Given that A) we know there is going to be a decent amount of measurement error in UZR, B) basically nobody is a +27 defender in the outfield in 120 games, and C) Total Zone has him at +9, I would say it’s highly unlikely he actually played that good last year.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — February 21, 2010 @ 2:11 am

  27. I can’t prove this, but it does seem that UZR tends to overvalue (or systematically churn out higher values for) these toolsy, defense first outfielders.

    I’m willing to buy the argument that they have been undervalued in the past, but it seems like Fangraphs WAR (using UZR) has been overvaluing them, at least compared to other defensive metrics.

    Perhaps this is a chance to refine the system?

    Comment by Alon — February 22, 2010 @ 8:29 am

  28. Maybe. Or maybe defense first outfielders are actually really good defensively, lol.

    Comment by Adam — February 22, 2010 @ 9:24 am

  29. As if we don’t know about his group of ladies on the sly

    Comment by Lucas Walinski — May 24, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

  30. I think he was involved in a crazy shooting incident

    Comment by Alonso Witts — May 25, 2010 @ 1:29 am

  31. Like we don’t know about his group of ladies on the side

    Comment by Jonas Wenning — May 25, 2010 @ 11:49 am

  32. Oh Mr. Butler, what a guy

    Comment by Eliseo Corish — May 25, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

  33. “Should we expect ~5 WAR from Brett Gardner in 2010? No — that would be insane”

    Apparently, it wasn’t as insane as you predicted.

    Comment by James — September 5, 2010 @ 12:05 pm

  34. No kidding. I’m giddy… although I missed on enough stuff that I can’t be too self-congratulatory.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — September 6, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

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