Waging WAR for Yankees' Brett Gardner

WAR statistics say Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees is a strong All-Star Game candidate. (AP Photo)

All we are saying is give WAR a chance.

And Brett Gardner, too.

The former College of Charleston outfielder deserves to play in his first All-Star Game on July 16. Not because the six-year major league veteran is threatening to climb over Reggie Jackson, Joe DiMaggio and Babe Ruth on the New York Yankees' home run list.

Or because the big-budget Yankees are running away with first place in the tightly packed American League East.

Gardner's All-Star argument is the most important statistic in baseball, a relatively new concept we should all embrace for other walks of life. The 29-year-old Summerville resident is second among American League outfielders behind Angels star Mike Trout in WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

WAR is the non-standardized brainwork of baseball computer geeks that led to “Moneyball” (more the complex stats scenes than the Brad Pitt close-ups). It attempts to reduce statistics to one total value over the season for a given player as compared to a typical replacement just promoted from the minors.

So the Yankees will win 2.8 more games with Gardner in the lineup than with a replacement from their Triple-A farm club, and Trout is worth 3.0 wins for the Angels (more conventionally, Gardner is batting .287 with seven home runs).

“War … What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!” soul singer Edwin Starr shouted in his 1970 hit that reached No. 1 on the Billboard chart.

A just WAR is the greatest comparative tool since a bunch of television lawyers invented the scales of justice.

WAR is ideal for making decisions about dating and visiting relatives, and that's not all.

Workplace: Employee evaluations are so much simpler with the WAR approach. Boss evaluations, too.

Politics: WAR should help presidential historians and voters in local elections.

Neighbors: Finally, that annoying Schmedley family moved away. Sadly, the Zernfields are a minus 4.3 on the WAR scale.

Yes, WAR has a negative side. Jeff Keppinger of the Chicago White Sox bottoms out among American Leaguers with a minus 2.7 WAR rating.

Thus, applied to vacation ideas, that nice cabin in the mountains this week is probably about 7.1 after your cruise disaster last year.

What a great way to compare restaurant outings, home-cooked meals and frozen yogurt.

WAR works — from gardening to Gardner.

At 2.8, the Yankees' center fielder has the WAR edge over American League All-Star candidates such as Jacoby Ellsbury (2.7), Jose Bautista (2.6) and Coco Crisp (2.5).

Fans of both Gardner and the Yankees saw his sweet 2013 season coming in bits and fractured pieces last year. The left-hander missed all but 16 games with an injury to his right elbow but managed to hit .323 and got back in the lineup for two games against the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series.

“It was satisfying,” Gardner said while making a visit to sick children at MUSC in February, “not only to ease my competitive spirit — I wanted so badly to be out there to help the team — but it was good just to give me a peace of mind going into the offseason. It was good just to be healthy.”

Gardner is in good company at second place in the American League outfielder WAR department. Among active players, Trout with an astonishing rookie season last year notched the best WAR (10.9) of any active big league player.

Babe Ruth still has the two best single-season WAR records, 14.0 in 1923 and 12.9 in 1921.

The Yankees aren't as powerful these days. Injuries have kept Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez out since spring training and limited Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira to eight and 15 games, respectively. These “Bronx Bombers” are 12th in the American League in batting.

All the numbers add up to the basic 2.8 WAR, and a strong All-Star argument for Gardner.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff