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Tanner Gardner Is Becoming Texas Tech's Next Big Thing

Lost in the sheer dominance of Tech's Baseball season are the players driving it

Coming off a disappointing offensive season in 2015, the knowledge that Tech's best hitter, Eric Gutierrez, was a senior and moving on, left a big question mark as to who would step up in his absence? Luckily this season the entire team has stepped up on the offensive side and carried an, at times, suspect bullpen. But as Tech closes in on their first Big 12 championship, one player has cemented himself as this season's MVP and Guiterrez's heir-apparent. 

As a freshman in 2015, Gardner hit just .238 with an OPS of .693 and just 11 RBIs. Now, to be fair you don't expect a freshman to just walk into campus and start being an offensive force. Which is why this season is so surprising. From the opening series against Milwaukee when he showed off his defensive skills in CF each game of the series and showed signs of his emerging dominance at the plate, to his red hot April, Gardner has been a staple for Tech this season, without whom, Tech isn't in the position they are in going into the last two weekends of the season. 

Entering the Kansas series this weekend, Gardner is hitting .382 with an OPS of 1.052(!) and driving in 26 RBIs. He's been absolutely amazing! He leads Tech in batting average by 45 points! One might be asking... "If he's such a good hitter, why do teams keep pitching to him?" Well, he does lead the team in walks with 34, so whether or not it's intentional or not, Gardner is not an easy out by any means. Based on his performance this year, Gardner will get serious consideration for First Team All Big 12 and perhaps even an All-American selection. 

Heading into the postseason, Tech needs Gardner to keep up his hitting ways to set the table for and take the pressure off of, Raley, Smith and Gutierrez. Gardner has been such a mainstay and driving force this season, that where he goes, Tech goes. 

The good news is, after Guiterrez leaves a hole in the lineup after this season, Tanner Gardner looks ever ready to fill the void. Gardner has transformed from a very average-freshman to a super-sophmore and unless the MLB draft comes calling, Tech can look forward to two more years of this stellar ballplayer leading the way for Tech Baseball.