Not just because his gleaming white visage makes him impervious to criticism; every team needs a guy like Brett Gardner because Brett Gardner is really good. His contributions are innumerable and, in my view, his skill set isn't that rare. The question remains: why aren't the outfields of the world lousy with patient fly-catchers like Brett Gardner?
Brett Gardner is, unlike nearly every New York Yankee in existence, somehow underrated. Many Yankee fans took a dim view of Gardner's lack of power, deeming the corner outfield spots as key offensive spots where homers are mashed and fly balls are casually picked off the warning track to keep the batter from stretching his lazy fly into a triple. Slap hitters like Brett Gardner are best squeezed into the dreaded fourth outfielder role, spelling their more dong-happy brethren when they need a break from all the tater trotting.
As it turns out, Brett Gardner is a damn fine baseball player. His admirable walk rates & rampant base thievery pair with his outfield excellence to create quite the valuable dude. Not because of scrap or grit as his dirty uniform might suggest, because of his ability to do three things really well.
As I asked above: why shouldn't every team have a guy like this? What team wouldn't benefit from having a guy who does what he does well? Is it a matter of coaching, discouraging speedy guys from taking good at bats by insisting they slap at the ball and bunt at their first convenience. Is the promise of a dozen home runs worth more than oodles of runs prevented and bags swiped?
Not all teams are like the Yankees, as you well know. Fielding the first infielder to clout 600 career home runs along with a second baseman with 16 home runs and 4+ WAR at the all star break is a luxury few can afford. But the case of the steady gloveman taking a backseat to the streaky out-maker is a very common one, even occurring in Queens right now! More teams stand to benefit from not only playing but developing this type of talent. Rather than shoe-horning players into pre-determined roles; let a valuable player flex whatever muscles he's got to squeeze.