Gardner with the New York Yankees
|New York Yankees – No. 11|
August 24, 1983 |
Holly Hill, South Carolina
|June 30, 2008, for the New York Yankees|
(through 2016 season)
|Runs batted in||342|
|Career highlights and awards|
Brett Michael Gardner (born August 24, 1983) is an American professional baseball outfielder in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees. He made his MLB debut with the Yankees in 2008, and was named an All-Star in 2015. Gardner is currently the longest-tenured New York Yankee.
In 2003, Gardner attended walk-on tryouts for the baseball team at the College of Charleston. After the tryouts, Coach John Pawlowski told the players that he would contact them if they made the team. Without hearing a word from the coach, Gardner came to the field the next day for the first official practice, wearing his high school uniform. When Pawlowski asked Gardner why he was there, Gardner told him that he knew he was capable of playing at the Division I level. Pawlowski told Gardner that he could practice with the team, but if at any time if Pawlowski saw that Gardner wasn't capable then he would be let go.
Gardner was a three-year starter for the College of Charleston Cougars. In 2004, he was chosen to the All-Southern Conference Team. His .447 batting average was third in the nation in 2005, and his 122 hits tied for most in the country. In 2005, he set a new College of Charleston record of 85 runs for the season, and also had 38 stolen bases. He was named third-team All-American and All-Southern Conference. He had a .382 batting average, .456 on-base percentage, and .508 slugging percentage with the Cougars, mostly from the lead-off spot.
Gardner finished the 2005 season in the New York–Penn League season ranking 5th in at bats (with 282), 2nd in runs (62), and 5th in stolen bases (19). He was a Florida State League all star in 2006, batting .323 in 63 games with 22 RBIs with the Tampa Yankees. He was 3rd in the Florida State League in batting average and led the league in stolen bases with 30. Gardner also was second in the league in walks with 47.
In 2007, he played 54 games for the Double-A Trenton Thunder, though he missed time with a broken bone in his hand. In 203 at bats, he stole 18 bases (tied for 5th in the league; while being caught 4 times), hit 5 triples, and batted .300 with a .392 OBP, before being promoted to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. There, in 45 games he batted .260 with a .343 OBP, and stole 21 bases while being caught only 3 times.
In the fall of 2007, he played in 26 games in the Arizona Fall League, leading it in runs (27) and stolen bases (16), while being caught stealing only once. He batted .343 (5th in the league) with a .433 obp (3rd) and was 3rd in the league in walks (17). In 2007, he was the 12th-best prospect in the Yankees minor league system according to Baseball America.
Playing for Scranton/Wilkes Barre in 2008, in 94 games Gardner was 2nd in the International League with a .414 on-base percentage, 70 walks, and 11 triples, and 6th in the IL with 37 stolen bases, while being caught only 9 times.
Through 2008 in the minor leagues, he had a .291 batting average and a .389 OBP. He had stolen 153 bases, and been caught 31 times, an 83% success rate.
New York Yankees (2008–present)
On June 30, 2008, Gardner was called up and made his major league debut, batting lead-off and going 0 for 3 with a stolen base. On July 2, he got both his first hit and first RBI off fellow rookie, Texas Rangers relief pitcher Warner Madrigal, in the seventh inning. Gardner went on to steal second and eventually score in that inning. On July 26, 2008, Gardner was optioned back to AAA after the acquisition of Xavier Nady in order to continue to receive playing time. The Yankees recalled Gardner on August 15 .
On September 21, 2008, Gardner scored the final run of Major League Baseball in Yankee Stadium history as a pinch runner for Jason Giambi, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Robinson Canó in the seventh inning of an eventual 7–3 win for the Yankees over the Baltimore Orioles. Gardner finished his rookie season playing 42 games batting .228 with 16 RBI and 13 stolen bases.
2009: World Series championship
Gardner was named the Yankees' starting center fielder for the 2009 season on March 29, 2009, beating out Melky Cabrera for the position; although Cabrera would eventually replace Gardner as the starting center fielder. Gardner played 108 games during the 2009 season batting .270 with 3 home runs, 23 RBI, and 26 stolen bases. Gardner was also part of the Yankees postseason run, appearing in all but one of the Yankees post season games and starting the final two games of the World Series, as the team won the World Series for the first time since 2000 by beating the Philadelphia Phillies.
Gardner began the 2010 season as the Yankees starting left fielder, taking over after Johnny Damon left in free agency, he finished the season with a .277 batting average and 47 stolen bases in 150 games. He also won the 2010 Fielding Bible Award as the best defensive left fielder in MLB.
Gardner started the 2011 season hitting leadoff for the Yankees. He struggled in that role and was demoted to the bottom 3rd of the order. However, after Derek Jeter was put on the disabled list for a calf injury, Gardner was returned to the top of the order, alternating with Nick Swisher. After Jeter's return, and Alex Rodriguez's stint on the DL for knee surgery, Gardner and Jeter periodically shared the top of the order, with Gardner as lead-off and Jeter batting 2nd.
Gardner finished the 2011 season tied for first in the American League in stolen bases with Coco Crisp, each having 49 stolen bases. Gardner won his second consecutive Fielding Bible Award as the best fielding left fielder in MLB. Gardner played in 159 games batting .259 with 7 home runs and 36 RBI.
Gardner and the Yankees agreed on a $2.8 million contract for the 2012 season, avoiding arbitration. Gardner experienced an elbow injury in 2012 and was expected to return in August. On July 16, Gardner suffered a setback and his chances of missing the entire season increased. On July 24, Gardner underwent right elbow surgery, performed by Dr. Christopher S. Ahmad. He was reactivated on September 25, 2012 after Steve Pearce and Justin Thomas were designated for assignment. Gardner only played in 16 games during 2012 batting .323 with 2 stolen bases and 3 RBI.
With Curtis Granderson fracturing his right forearm during a spring training game, Gardner was moved to center field for the 2013 season. On April 14, 2013, Gardner hit his first home run off a lefty since he hit his first grand slam off of Ricky Romero. For the week ending June 9, Gardner was named the AL Player of the Week.
On August 11, 2013, Gardner hit his first career walk-off home run with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning off of Detroit Tigers reliever José Veras. The homer sealed a 5–4 victory for the Yankees, and helped give support to a struggling Mariano Rivera, who blew three consecutive save opportunities for the first time in his career. In the same series against Detroit two days earlier, Gardner made his first bailout of Rivera's pitching mishap by hitting a walk-off single past a diving Miguel Cabrera to give the Yankees a 4–3 win. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Gardner became the first Yankee since Claudell Washington in 1988 to have two walk-off hits in span of three or fewer games. In 2013, Gardner played 145 games batting .273 with 8 home runs, 33 doubles, 10 triples, 52 RBI, and 24 stolen bases.
On February 23, 2014, the Yankees and Gardner agreed to a four-year, $52 million extension to begin in 2015. On April 23, 2014, Gardner made his first career start at right field. On July 28, 2014, Gardner recorded his first career multi-homer game where he hit 2 home runs off of Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish. He was named AL Player of the Week on August 4. On September 21, Gardner recorded the 15,000th home run of the Yankees franchise off the Blue Jays' Drew Hutchison. Gardner struggled in September due to an injury, finishing 12-for-72 (.167).
Gardner was the Yankees' nominee for the Hank Aaron Award for the 2014 season. After the 2014 season, Gardner underwent surgery in his right arm to correct a rectus abdominis muscle injury that affected him in July and September.
2015: All-Star season
Gardner was named AL Player of the Week for the week ending June 28, 2015. He was one of the five candidates chosen for the All-Star Final Vote for the 2015 MLB All-Star Game, but was later removed from the ballot after being chosen to replace the injured Alex Gordon on the All-Star team.
Gardner is considered one of the fastest players in Major League Baseball. He is best known for stealing bases and being very disciplined at the plate. He makes contact with 93% of his swings, third best in the American League. In 2010, Gardner saw more pitches per at-bat than any other player in the American League.
Brett and his wife, Jessica, have two sons: Hunter and Miller. His father, Jerry Gardner, played in the minors for the Phillies. In the off-season, the Gardners reside in Summerville, South Carolina.
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