Let's play, "Name that Yankee!"
Can you name the Yankee who has played all but four games this year and is top-five on the team in home runs, hits and extra-base hits while leading the team in steals?
Could it be Gleyber Torres? Aaron Hicks might've been a good guess. Maybe even Clint Frazier.
It's not any of those players.
It's Brett Gardner - the unheralded Yankees outfielder who just keeps grinding.
Fans didn't expect this much production from Gardner in his age-35 season. Still, it shouldn't be surprising that Gardner continues to do what he does best - play hard, play any role, and lead by example.
Gardner has batted in seven of the nine spots in the order this year, making him a versatile offensive option for Aaron Boone to deploy. For a guy who's most probably thought of as a leadoff, eighth or ninth hitter, Gardner has become a surprising middle-of-the-order option thanks to his eight home runs and the third-highest slugging percentage of his career (.420).
At times, he's been the only lefty in the Yankees lineup, and he's taken advantage of the short porch - seven of his eight dingers have come at home.
He doesn't run as much as he used to, but Gardner hasn't lost a step either. He's still the best baserunner on the team per FanGraph's BsR rating, and he's leading the team in stolen bases for the sixth time in his career. By Statcast's "sprint speed" metric, he remains the fastest player on the team and the fastest player over 30 years old in the Majors.
Despite all that he has contributed with the bat and on the bases this year though, Gardner's most valuable contributions have come in the field this season.
At age 35, Gardner is still an above-average defender in both his natural left field and in center field. Due to injuries to Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, Gardner has had to play more center field this year than he has in several years, but the eye test and his metric profiles still grade out well.
Gardner's defense has been especially important given the fielding struggles of Clint Frazier. There's been some uncertainty on balls hit to the outfield this season, but not on any that have been hit Gardner's way.
While Gardner has had to play an unexpectedly large role for the Yankees this year, the team is finally starting to return to full health. When Judge and Stanton come back, Gardner may see more time on the bench. His contract is up after this season, and there is a chance each passing year that this coming Yankees potential postseason run is his last.
Nobody knows what the future may hold for Gardner, but we can be sure of a few things - he has earned playing time down the stretch this year, he'll still be Boone's number one option when he needs a defensive replacement, pinch runner or hard-fought at-bat, and he'll never stop giving his all for the only team he's ever known.