With the clock hitting zero last night in New Orleans, the culmination of one season drew to its end, and similar to all Super Bowl Sundays, with football season coming to a close, the anticipation of another sport's season began its buildup.
With a mere eight days to go until pitchers and catchers report, another season of New York Yankees baseball is soon to commence. With that being said, in the next eight days, let's take a look at the eight most interesting Yankees to keep an eye on heading into 2013. Today, Brett Gardner gets it started at number eight.
Coming off of an injury-riddled 2012 where he wasn't available to play until September, Gardner will assuredly be penciled into manager Joe Girardi's lineup in left-field and make life easier for Yankees pitching. With his exceptional amount of speed, Gardner covers an impressive amount of ground in the outfield and will be a significant defensive upgrade over a 2012 contingent that included Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones.
While Gardner won't bring the similar knack for the long-ball his left-handed counter-part Ibanez or Jones brought last season, he makes up for it with pesky at-bats, an ability to get on-base (proven with a career on-base percentage of .355), and a penchant to steal bases.
Simply put, as long as Gardner gets on base which he has proven to do, the likes of second baseman Robinson Cano, first baseman Mark Teixeira, and third baseman Kevin Youkilis will have ample opportunity to drive in runs.
What makes Gardner an interesting Yankee to watch entering 2013? Being a year removed from an elbow injury that cost the 29-year-old left-hander the majority of 2012, it will be fun to watch him partner up on the base paths with right-fielder Ichiro Suzuki for a full season.
Additionally, combining those two with shortstop Derek Jeter, it will be interesting to see how Girardi sets these guys in the batting order, all carrying impressive repertoires for getting on base and setting up scoring opportunities.
In other words, will the Yankees trade in their traditionally strong home run numbers for scoring opportunities playing "small-ball?"
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