There was a lot of talk this winter that the Yankees needed to upgrade in center field. But with the season now past its halfway point, Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera are proving that notion was incorrect.
Brett Cabrera (or Melky Gardner if you prefer) have given the Yankees .289/.354/.436 production in center field this season. They have combined on eight homers, 40 RBI and 15 stolen bases. That’s a .790 OPS.
These statistics take into account only when either player has been the center fielder.
How does that compare?
Torii Hunter (.305/380/.558) has been the best center fielder in the league. He has 17 homers and 65 RBI. But Brett Cabrera has been better than Jacoby Ellsbury (.299/.349/.404), for instance.
If you use OPS to measure, only Hunter, Adam Jones, Franklin Gutierrez, Marlon Byrd and Curtis Granderson have been better than the Yankees’ duo.
The credit goes to Joe Girardi, who has done a good job of deciding who plays on a particular day. Most of it is matching up with the opposing pitcher but there is also a feel to the process.
“I think Joe has been great with the two of them,” hitting coach Kevin Long said. “Both of those guys know their value to what we’re doing. They’re pushing each other and it makes us better.”
Remember when the Yankees were close to trading for Mike Cameron? He’s at .252/362/.468 for Milwaukee, an .830 OPS. Brett Cabrera is right there with him, too.
There are some red flags. Cabrera’s OBP has done a dive lately and you wonder if he’ll swoon again as he did last summer. Gardner also needs to prove he can go the distance. But the Yankees have gotten more our center field than anybody, even Girardi, could have expected.
Back later with the lineups. Who’s staying up late?