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Brett Gardner: 2016 fantasy bust?

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Brett Gardner has shown some worrisome problems early in spring.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees OF Brett Gardner has turned in back to back productive fantasy seasons. He's stolen a total of 41 bases and hit 33 home runs over those two seasons while scoring plenty of runs at the top of the Yankee lineup. Only 11 players stole 20+ bases and hit 15+ home runs last year, and Gardner was one of them.

But early on in spring, there's already reason to consider avoiding Gardner in fantasy drafts. A left wrist injury he suffered in last year's Wild Card game in October is still bothering him, after an entire offseason of rest. John Harper of the Daily News wrote,

How alarming is it that Brett Gardner showed up for spring training still bothered by a left wrist injury he suffered in the Wild Card game last October?

"I was shocked to hear that," an AL scout said on Friday. "The Yankees have to be awfully nervous about that. If it didn’t heal in, what, five months, then you’d have to think it could linger. Wrists are the worst injury for a hitter. I’ve seen it with plenty of guys. You can aggravate it just swinging and missing."

For that matter, Mark Teixiera can tell Gardner all about it. He admits now that his wrist injury basically cost him two years of his career.

To make matters worse, Gardner was bothered by an injury to his right wrist last season that some Yankee people believe was a significant factor in his poor second half.

"They were a completely different team when Gardner was playing well," the scout said. "He and (Jacoby) Ellsbury both. They need both of those guys healthy all year to have a shot at winning the division."

That doesn't sound very encouraging. Gardner is currently going on average at pick 112 in Yahoo leagues, and while that isn't a ridiculously high price, Gardner could easily become a replacement player if he has to shut it down at some point during the season. And even if he plays through it, you have to wonder how productive he will be, especially in the power department.