Brett Gardner Is Starting Another Second Half Swoon

Jose Molina, Brett Gardner

With the New York Yankees getting shutout in back to back games for the first time since 1999 there are plenty of culprits who are not hitting. Team slumps happen and this one happened to come at the worst possible time for the Yankees. You would definitely figure a team that has been consistently awesome offensively all year will get back going soon. For that to happen it will start with Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner making things happen at the top of the lineup.

Ellsbury has taken most of the criticism for his poor play since coming off the disabled list. He has hit under .200 and has not stolen a base since coming back from injury. Other than a couple of home runs he has been nothing short of awful and his performance definitely makes you wonder just how healthy he is.

Ellsbury takes most of the blame because he is paid a large amount of money and is not a homegrown player, so Gardner has kind of gotten a pass for his recent slump. However, it's just as notable because of his career struggles in the second half of seasons. Since the all-star break, Gardner has hit .215/.333/.277/.610, which is really horrific. This is becoming a trend for Gardner, who historically seems to get worse as each month passes along. He is a career .242/.332/.360/.692 hitter in the second half of seasons. His career wRC+ in August is 83 and 84 in September.

Who knows what the reasoning is for this. Gardner always plays the game hard and hasn't had the best durability, so maybe the season wears on him more than the average player. That might be even more true this season when he had to play basically every game in centerfield when Ellsbury was hurt. No matter what the reason is, it's pretty concerning considering how important Gardner is to the team.

Not only are Ellsbury and Gardner not hitting, but they're also not running what few times they have gotten on base. Neither has stolen a base since the all-star break and both are on career long streaks of not swiping a bag. Gardner hasn't even attempted a stolen base since June 12th. No matter what Joe Girardi tells you this has to be a conscious decision by the team. These guys just don't stop running like this. If it's being done to keep them fresh it isn't working right now. Ellsbury and Gardner not stealing was fine when the team was scoring nine runs a game, but now when they need a spark they need to get back to taking some chances.

The Yankees were able to score a ton of runs over the previous road trip with Ellsbury and Gardner struggling because of the production from the bottom of the order. When that went away during the home stand the Yankees scored almost nothing. It all starts at the top with Ellsbury and Gardner, and if they don't get their acts together soon the Yankees will continue to struggle to score.