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  1. Gotta love Gritt Grittner. He’s a pleasure to watch this year. Not only his ABs but when he is on the bases. 13 for 14 in stolen base attempts this year! At this point in the season he has to be all over pitchers minds both in the box and on the bases.

    Comment by Evan in NYC — May 6, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

  2. I don’t like how hitters with low power are categorized as fringe players by most analysts. I mean sure home runs are sexy and productive, but speed and contact skills are also a part of the game. Those two skills can help produce runs too.

    Comment by Bob Dylan — May 6, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

  3. What Bob said.

    Comment by Jimbo — May 6, 2010 @ 4:09 pm

  4. Yep. He’s Willie Wilson with plate discipline. In 1982 Willie had a .380 BABIP and 4.2% walk rate. The comp actually works better by taking into account all pitches Willie saw. He wasn’t a particularly patient hitter, but I’ll bet no hitter fouled off more pitches in history. His contact rate was in the ballpark of Gardner, and of course there’s the speed. I’m kicking myself for believing the media hype on Grandy and thinking Gardner might not get to play. He was available in my very deep league for a while.

    Comment by Paul — May 6, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

  5. I wonder how Richie Ashburn would be evaluated today.

    Comment by Walter Guest — May 6, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

  6. Jacoby Ellsbury lite.

    Comment by Jackman — May 6, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

  7. I think pretty soon you may be calling Ellsbury Brett Gardner-lite.

    I wouldn’t trade Gardner straight up for Ellsbury right now. I’m much more convinced he’s a well above average defensive CF.

    Comment by snapper — May 6, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

  8. I’m much more convinced Garner is an above average defensive fielder, but I’m much more convinced that Ellsbury is an above average hitter.

    Gardner, despite the great last 90 ABs, still has a .700 career OPS

    Comment by Rich — May 6, 2010 @ 5:56 pm

  9. I was more talking from a fantasy standpoint, because Ellsbury would get way more ABs as a leadoff hitter with no real threat to him on the roster, that he’d put up better stats this year (obviously thats derailed somewhat by his injury now). But skills wise, they are very similar, and I even made a point of it in some fantasy threads in the offseason.

    But in real life, I agree. Gardner had a better WAR than Ellsbury last year, playing nearly 1/3rd the time. If you extrapolate his offensive stats to the amount of ABs Ellsbury got, they were very similar last year, and now Gardner is going ahead of him. And they are the same age as well. Now part of it is that he plays exceptional defense as well, which makes him more valuable than Ellsbury when they had similar offensive stats (based on extrapolating stats to equal ABs- yes I know its unscientific, lol).

    Comment by Jackman — May 6, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

  10. To Rich:

    I don’t think OPS is really the best stat to use, because of his lack of power.

    Last year, Ellsbury put up .770 OPS while Gardner put up .724.

    But he beat Ellsbury in the speed score by nearly 2 full points.

    If you take his stats per AB and look at Ellsbury, there are very similar.

    Here is a thread from RW that I made, that talks about fantasy purposes (obviously this only concerns the offensive output)

    They came out pretty similar, and this year Gardner has been better (by utilizing his speed more and hitting more ground balls) and has a pretty full time job. This year’s comparisons will be skewed by Ellsbury getting hurt and how he recovers from it, and how it affects him for this year, but talent wise they are very similar on offense, while Gardner has been better on defense.

    Comment by Jackman — May 6, 2010 @ 6:07 pm

  11. Jacoby Ellsbury is not a good hitter.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — May 6, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

  12. Jackman–

    Since when is 2.2>2.7? Ellsbury had a 2.7 WAR last year. Last time I checked, 2.7 is a higher number than 2.2.

    As for the claims of Gardner’s defense being superior to Ellsbury’s, as everybody knows Fenway park is one of baseball’s most convoluted fields to play defense in and as a result, disproportionately affects the UZR of a player. And although I love sabermetrics, they are not the be-all-end-all in terms of defense; UZR is hardly perfect. Fielding percentage is not a good stat either but must be looked at as well, just pointing out that Ellsbury has a much better fielding percentage than Gardner.

    And vivaelpujols….Ellsbury had a Batting value of 11.8 last year to Garnder’s 2.4.

    Ellsbury’s OWn% (offensive winning percentage–a measure of what percentage of games a team would win with nine of this player batting. By the way it’s independent of ABs, so don’t try that route) last year was .545. Gardner’s was .497.

    Comment by Paul — May 6, 2010 @ 7:52 pm

  13. Oh My bad, I misread the WAR graph, atleast its close. And if Gardner got the same playing time, he would’ve blown by him as well.

    I didn’t say Gardner was better than Ellsbury on offense last year, I said they were very similar. wOBA of .337 to .354, wRAA of 2 to 2.3. wRC when multiplied to equalize the ABs (2.4 X Gardner’s AB) its 86 to 97. They look close enough to me.

    Comment by Jackman — May 6, 2010 @ 8:38 pm

  14. I’m not going by UZR on defense.

    The scouting on Ellsbury from Sox fans is mixed. Everyone I hear from thinks Garner is a plus, or a plus plus CF.

    Comment by snapper — May 6, 2010 @ 9:24 pm

  15. Gardner’s rise might be a reason carl crawford is gonna lose quite a bit of money in the off season.

    Comment by lalala — May 6, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

  16. I’m really hoping Gardner finishes the year batting .280 with at least a .340 or .350 obp. To be honest, Gardner could probably steal 40-50 if he played full time, he plays very good defense, and has an excellent eye at the plate. It’s just been a matter of him making contact.

    As nice of a player that Crawford is, if Gardner can provide some similar offensive stats with a good obp, we can save that money and put it toward a Jorge De La Rosa or a Cliff Lee. Crawford hasn’t proved to me he can take a walk despite his good obp last year. For his career, he’s only been about .40 points above his avg in obp. If a guy is hitting above .300 and you want him stealing bags for you, his obp should be more like .370 to start.

    Comment by Jon — May 6, 2010 @ 11:04 pm

  17. Jorge de la Rosa or Cliff Lee???
    Saying them in the same breathe should be a bannable offense.

    Comment by Smallball Tony — May 7, 2010 @ 12:54 am

  18. Fielding percentage is already included in UZR… it adds nothing to the discussion. Not saying UZR is the be all and end all, just fielding percentage is worthless.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — May 7, 2010 @ 1:11 am

  19. 370 minimum OBP or you don’t want him… man it must be great to be a Yankees fan.

    Comment by Franco — May 7, 2010 @ 2:39 am

  20. Key to understanding Gardner owning the zone is probably in his spray chart, he is hitting through the SS hole and into left field with more consistency than ever. This ability to take the outside pitch to the opposite field gives him options with two strikes, which is where he consistently found himself last year early in the count.

    You’ll know when Gardner has cooled by how many more 4-3’s are written into the book vs. his current tear.

    Don’t have numbers to back this up, if anyone cares to look be my guest, just eyes on the field here.

    Comment by LibertyBoy — May 7, 2010 @ 11:36 am

  21. What viva said.

    Comment by JAmes — May 7, 2010 @ 11:47 am

  22. i’ve been noticing this trend all year, watching gardner for fantasy purposes, figured i’d see this article sooner or later.

    Comment by jimn — May 7, 2010 @ 12:54 pm

  23. Ellsbery played CF last year…. weren’t most of the big issues around UZR corrections related to left field? And to bring up a statistic which you say is a poor stat (fielding %) reads as you are desperate to sell people on his defense….similar to mixing the what is mainly a LF Fenway issue with “Fenway park is one of the most convoluted fields in general”…. he did also play roughly 1/2 of his games out of Fenway, no?

    If you are going to talk about a convoluted park… take a look at his offense #’s last year:
    OPS was 67points higher at home
    ISO was 47 points higher at home
    wOBA was 24 points higher at home

    Did that (and of course playing time) impact the WAR #’s just a bit?

    Comment by Hank — May 7, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

  24. For what its worth, Gardner doesn’t throw too bad, while Ellsbury would have a tough time beating Johnny Damon in a throwing competition.

    They are similar players. Ellsbury is hyped because he is needed by the Red Sox. Gardner is deprecated because a) everyone knows the Yankees don’t develop players and b) Gardner is thought of as a role player for the Yankees.

    Comment by Jason — May 9, 2010 @ 12:45 am

  25. People also get confused by big #’s… when you look at Ellsbury’s steals, you almost forget his OBP is not very good for a guy who hits .300 (Nick Swisher had as good an OBP last year and he hit ~.250). There’s also a Fenway factor (as there is with many of the Sox) – he has a wOBA 40points higher at home and an OPS ~90points higher foe his career.

    And when you see how fast Ellsbury is and the need for him to dive (whether or not he actually has to dive), he comes across to some as a very good fielder. He gets bad jumps on balls, takes “interesting” routes to get to the ball and I won’t even talk about his arm.

    Comment by Ronnie — May 9, 2010 @ 3:42 pm

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