As Jay pointed out, by way of Ken Singleton, in Wednesday's recap, Brett Gardner is quietly putting together quite a season for himself. Gardner currently leads AL rookies in AVG, OBP, runs, SB, and BB. He's second in RBI and OPS and third in hits. It's an admittedly weak crop of rookie hitters, and Matt Wieters has not been up the whole year nor has he gotten hot yet. I'm not suggesting anyone start a Rookie of the Year campaign for Garner, but he certainly has been a pleasant surprise, particularly after his slow start.
Yet he's not even starting regularly. After getting five hits in the Friday night game against the Mets two weeks ago, Joe Girardi said Gardner had earned regular playing time, something we had advocated for weeks prior. Yet in the twelve games since then, Gardner has started just eight, and five of those came with Melky Cabrera also in the lineup.
Wednesday, Dave Cameron at Fangraphs had an interesting article on the defensive value of Brett Gardner. Sabremetric defensive evaluations have evolved markedly over the past couple years, but I'm not completely sold on them yet (side note, check this interesting Times article via Bronx Banter). That said, UZR/150 appears to be the most evolved at this stage, and Gardner is off the charts according to that metric.
Anyway, give the Fangraphs article a read. Gardner has uncorked a few memorably bad throws this year, but I can also recall a few good ones. Memories aside, the metrics say he's been more good than bad, much more good in fact. While Melky assuredly has a stronger arm, the Fangraphs piece seems to indicate that Gardner has a more effective arm, and a much better all around defensive game.