At each position, I will cover one player to avoid and one player to target. By target, I mean keep this player on your draft board, or try to acquire him on the cheap. By avoid, I mean you want to avoid paying market value for the player. Many of my conclusions will be based off of statistical evaluations and maybe a small hunch. For the most part, these players will be guys who provide similar value to players who are being drafted much higher, and vice versa. I will cover the player in both redraft and keeper/dynasty formats.
Brett Gardner pretty much came out of nowhere in 2010 to steal 47 bases and post a stellar .383 OBP with a decent .277 average. He was almost a non prospect with the Yankees, but has proven to be a valuable fantasy commodity. In 2011, Brett Gardner stole 49 bases, but his bat regressed a bit as his OBP dipped to .345 and his average to .259. Still, those steal numbers are very gaudy, even with the hit on average. In the 2010 and 2011 seasons, only Michael Bourn has stolen more bags than Gardner, by just 8.5 more per season.
In the last post, I used ADP(Average Draft Position) from CBS Sports. This time, I'll be taking my ADP data from the Fantasy Pros, who have compiled and averaged two ADP lists, one being from CBS Sports. Brett Gardner's ADP is at 159, while Michael Bourn is being selected on average at 82.3. In the past three years, Michael Bourn hit, on average .265/.346/.376 with 155 stolen bases and 13 HR. Brett Gardner, in the same time span, hit .269/.365/.374 with 98 stolen bases and 12 HR. Micheal Bourn also had over 800 more plate appearances in that span, due to Gardner missing most of the 2012 season, and Bourn hitting at the top of the lineup.
Brett Gardner suffered a bruised elbow in April, that kept him out for pretty much the entire 2012 season. A bone bruise is hardly a recurring injury, and it's definitely not very serious. I'd expect Gardner to replicate what he's done in the past, and if you can get him at an ADP of 159, that is, um, a steal. He's probably just as valuable as Bourn is, and is in a very potent offense, but you can get him almost 80 picks later.
If you're in a dynasty league, I'd target him about at the same ADP, as I'm sure many will overlook him with him missing most of the 2012 season. Gardner also has some future value, as he's on the right side of 30. In a redraft, I'd value him the same. Gardner holds even more value in a category league, as he can essentially win the entire category for you, while not destroying your average or other categories. Brett Gardner is probably one of the cheapest draft day source of steals, so keep him on your board, and don't let someone else steal him from right under you.