NEW YORK -- It's not a huge surprise to see Mark Teixeira leading the Yankees with 17 home runs this season, or to find power hitters Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran following him with 10 apiece. But it might be surprising to see Brett Gardner's name right there with them.
For the first time in his Major League career, Gardner has totaled double-digit home runs, having hit a career-high 10, the most recent of which came off Yu Darvish in Wednesday night's rain-shortened 2-1 victory over the Rangers.
"I thought it was possible that he would hit double digits," said manager Joe Girardi. "I would never expect him to be a guy in the 20s. But I did think double digits because I've seen his power. I've seen him in BP; I've seen him certain days that I thought it was possible."
Gardner has provided most of his pop out of the leadoff spot and has quickly grown into one of the Yankees' most versatile threats. He entered Thursday leading the team in triples with six and had 17 stolen bases, trailing only Jacoby Ellsbury, and he was tied for third on the team in RBIs (41).
Throughout his college and Minor League career, Gardner never hit more than five home runs in a season. His highest total came with the Yankees last season, when he belted eight. What's been the difference?
"Just being a little more aggressive," Gardner said after Wednesday's victory. "[I'm] trying to continue to work on my swing with [hitting coach Kevin Long], being more aggressive at the plate and taking my 'A' swing."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.