Analysis

Yankees: Should Brett Gardner Have His Number Retired?

After 10+ years with the Bombers and a few more to potentially come, should the Yankees retire Brett Gardner’s number upon his retirement?

Throughout their illustrious history, The New York Yankees have retired numbers 1-10, with another 11 to follow, totaling 21 numbers taken out of circulation for the Bombers, with more soon to come. Although you can look at the Yankees on the current roster and see the potential for some of them to follow the same fate as Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres, there’s an old vet who’s made his mark in the Bronx the past 10+ years: Brett Gardner.

Where’d Gardner Come From?

Gardner was drafted in the third round (109th overall) by the Yankees in the 2005 MLB draft. He attended the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina.

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Gardner ripped through the Minors, slashing .284/.377/.376 in Single-A Short Season, powering five homers and swiping 19 out of 22 bags in 73 games in 2005. In 2006, Gardner’s trademark attribute, his speed, shined brightly. Between slashing .298/.395/.370, he also stole 58 bases and was caught 12 times. Fast forward a year, and these numbers took a slight dip, but still stayed fairly consistent, as Gardner hit .281 with a .369 on-base percentage while stealing 39 out of 46 bags. His last full season in the minors was 2008, where he stole 37 bases and had a .414 OBP in 94 games for Triple-A Scranton.

Early Impact for the Yankees

Gardner had a cup of coffee in the bigs in 2008, hitting just .228 with a .283 on-base percentage. His main impact began in 2009, where he netted a .345 OBP with 26 stolen bases. His legs made the loudest noise in 2010 and 2011, where he stole 47 and 49 bases, respectively, tying for the American League lead in 2011. In these two seasons, Gardner hit a combined .268 with a .364 OBP.

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Finding a Power Stroke

Gardner was never much of a power hitter early in his career. He reached a new career-high in long balls back in 2013 where he hit eight, breaking his previous record of seven that he set back in 2011. Since 2014, however, Gardner has shown the capability to drive one out if needed.

In the past six seasons, Gardner has amassed double-digit homers five times, with his career-high coming this past season where he hit 28. He also hit 21 homers in 2017, 16 in 2015, and 17 in 2014. Last, but certainly not least, Gardner had a very strong OPS this past season, standing at .829, a career-best.

Gardner is 36 years old and will turn 37 in late August. Since making his mark with the club, the Yankees have shown a strong desire to keep the outfielder in pinstripes for the remainder of his career, starting when they signed him to a four-year, $52 million contract extension in the 2013-2014 offseason, among a blizzard of other roster moves. The Yanks just signed Gardner to a one-year pact for this season, so he’ll be a free agent going into 2021, but I don’t think he’s going anywhere but the Bronx.

If Gardner can keep tallying the numbers he’s been stacking up since his arrival in 2008, the argument on whether or not to retire number 11 will be an interesting one.

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