Brett Gardner. What do you expect from him? Can we expect, at the least, a similar stat-line and amount of playing time as last year? Finally, is he under-valued or is Ichiro (a very similar stat line) over-valued? Or, does Ichiro's reliability warrant a much higher draft spot than Gardner's inexperience?
I am not confident because last year was his first "full" year so I give him some Inexperience Risk. However, on the positive side... 1. His OPS has been rising in all three years 2. He is going to be at the magical "Age 27" next year 3. He is in that Yankee lineup 4. His Walk Rate is on a 3 year up-trend 5. Consistency last year with steals, by month, of 10-8-6-6-9-8 6. Consistency scoring Runs last year, with 13 or more every month 7. He's not a power guy... but his doubles last year, by month: 2-2-2-3-6-5 is a good sign of developing power
The main difference in the stats you list is Ichiro's .315 batting average weighted over 732 ABs.
Gardner's .277 is pretty much squarely in the middle of the road among all fantasy worthy hitters so is relatively neutral, but a batting average approximately 40 points better than the league average over such a huge number of ABs is the kind of value fantasy players often overlook.
That said, I've never really been a big Ichiro guy because to take him you have to pay big for a guy who isn't a well rounded fantasy player. I either want a 4/5 category contributor with a top 40 pick or a guy who is absolutely elite in 3 categories (while not being a killer in any single category). Ichiro is arguably elite in 2 categories (Avg, SB), middle of the road in Rs, and poor in HRs and RBIs.
I'd rather wait and take Gardner later, knowing I have a player who isn't well rounded on one hand, but one who I also didn't have to use a top 50 (much less top 100 in all likelihood) pick to get.
So I guess even though I like Ichiro more, you are right in that the difference in draft stock makes Gardner a better selection on draft day, considering he'll go much later.
I think Brett is going later than he should in a lot of mocks so far. I don't see any real reason to think his production will take a huge hit, and he's one of those good speed-slight power guys that more or less mirrors the production of guys taken a lot higher than him in drafts. He's essentially a small handfull of HRs less, and a handfull of stolen bases more, for a two round ADP discount. Or maybe some other guys are going to high - one or the other.
He was quite dreadful in the 2nd half beyond the 22 steals and became a platoon player on my fantasy squad (I think he was benched or "given day off" a few times by Girardi as well).
I would be worried about his splits if it were a deterioration in his game. However, it was probably more due to his wrist injury suffered in late June.
For instance, just looking at those raw splits doesn't do much justice to the argument. If we increase his 2nd hal R, RBI, and SB numbers by a factor of 1.3 (275/202 = 1.36) we get 53 R, 23 RBI, and 28 SB. Those are extremely close to his 1st half split. The homers went down, but I would attribute that to a hurt wrist. Batting Average went down, but some of that should be attributed to the wrist as well. Finally, while HR were down, his doubles were up from 6 to 14 (a huge jump).
The part that concerns me about Gardner is his BA. He K's a lot for a non-power hitter and his .340 BAPIP was higher than the .310 BAPIP that he had prior to that. He could be a .260's hitter with very little power and on a Yankee team with other options he might end up platooned.
I've pretty much drafted Gardner in all my mock drafts as my late round speed guy. I was skeptical last year and the 2nd half worries me, but the Yankees didn't see a need to replace him and there were a few free agents that they could have bid on so I think that is a good sign.
Jacoby Ellsbury's ADP on mock draft is 67 while Brett Gardner's is 188. In the "expert" mock drafts I've viewed, Ellsbury is being selected between the 3rd and 4th round, while Gardner is going between the 9th and 10th. The earliest I've seen him selected is in the 7th round of a standard league starting 5 OF. I don't believe there is that big of difference between their fantasy value to justify a 5-7 round gap. If you agree, Is Gardner being undervalued or Ellsbury being overvalued?