The New York Yankees are surging right now and the most recent win came in large part because of Didi Gregorius who has been nothing short of tremendous in Pinstripes.
By Christian Kouroupakis
Sir Didi Gregorius, the knighted shortstop for the New York Yankees, has been one of the most exciting performers on the team since being acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014.
New York brought Gregorius to the Bronx to fill in for some dude who has been manning the spot since 1996 after he said goodbye to the game.
No matter what anybody tells you, no one had a tougher transition to life as a Yankee than Gregorius did. The Netherlands native had to fill the shoes of Derek Jeter, who was clearly more than just “some dude” manning the starting shortstop as he was the captain and legend for the Bombers during his 20-year tenure.
Didi, while attempting to please the tough New York crowd, heard chants of “Derek Jeter!” during his Yankee Stadium debut. I don’t care how tough of a person you are, that would affect the composure of any ballplayer.
To everyone’s surprise, the newest shortstop covered his ears and made his defense rank among the best in the league. Advanced metrics showed that he had the second hardest throw to first while having the highest efficiency of any shortstop, according to FanGraphs.
While not coming even close to the offensive threat that Jeter brought to the table on a daily basis, but his more than respectable .294 average following a dismal start (first half) to his Yankee tenure helped him finish his first year in the Bronx with a slash line of .265/.318/.370.
Though far from the production we saw out of Jeter in his prime, it was a decent growth in production from Jeter’s .256/.304/.313 slash line he put together during his farewell tour.
Let’s not forget the fact that he regularly makes jaw-dropping plays that saved five runs per game above average for the Yankees’ shaky pitching staff a year ago.
Gregorius’s strong play in the second half was not only a bright spot during their seven-game fallout from first place in the American League East, but it was a driving force as the Yankees made it back to the playoffs for the first time in two seasons.
That drive and production have shown its faces here in his sophomore season with the Yanks, as he is low key saving his team from immense failure.
I say “low key” because the bats of Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury have essentially saved the Yankees from mediocracy. In the last seven games, Beltran owns a .417/.462/.875 slash line with three home runs and an OPS of 1.337 featuring a red-hot Ellsbury who has hit .343 this month with an on-base percentage of .400.
Nevertheless, Gregorius has provided his team with a sparkplug as he is slashing .306/.324/.389 with an OPS of .713 which includes his 2-for-3 day with a double and two RBI in Friday’s 4-0 victory over the Tigers.
That was the 26-year-old’s fourth multi-hit outing of this calendar month featuring his third double of the month, as well. Since May 1, his batting average has seen a 48-increase from .221 to .269 while throwing in some pop in lumber (four home runs in 2016).
In this day in age of sports, legends are hardly replaced by a worthy athlete due to the pressure that rises along with the transition being ever so rough. Gregorius knows he will never be Derek Jeter, but from day one that has never bothered him.
That selfless attitude is why the New York Yankees have gotten a formidable shortstop to help them contend, now that they are back over .500 and ready to make a run at the divisional crown.