Didi Gregorius, New York Yankees
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

We may not think of New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius as a veteran leader, but that’s exactly what the electrifying shortstop has become.

The excitement ratchets up a few degrees these days when Didi Gregorius steps in the box for the New York Yankees. The ball seems to sizzle off his bat and in 13 games this spring, the Yankee shortstop has smacked three home runs to go along with a solid slash line of .263/.282/.526.

The 2017 season was a breakout season for Gregorius, posting personal-best marks in batting average (.287), home runs (25), RBI (87), and wRC+ (107). Gregorius’ numbers have grown exponentially since he’s been with the Yankees. Case in point: his batting average, home run totals and RBI totals have gone up every year since joining the club in 2015.

Didi was ranked the No. 7 shortstop in Major League Baseball by Zachary D. Rymer of Bleacher Report, who said:

“This is the year that Didi Gregorius made the leap from ‘interesting hitter’ to ‘good hitter.’

He doesn’t fit the Joey Votto mold, as he remained unable to ditch his habits of swinging and chasing too often. But it’s not easy to mix increasingly consistent contact with increasingly dangerous power like he is.

On June 10, Gregorius collected his 500th major league hit and on June 21, he hit the 50th home run of his career. Gregorius ranked third on the Yankees in home runs and RBI in 2017, despite missing nearly a month of the season with an injury.

He eclipsed Derek Jeter’s franchise record of 24 home runs for a shortstop when he hit his 25th home run on Sept. 20.

In the postseason, Gregorius hit three home runs with 13 RBI over 13 games, including two homers in Game 5 of the American League Division Series off Corey Kluber.

While the blockbuster trade for slugger Giancarlo Stanton dominated the Yankees postseason news, re-signing Gregorius to a one-year, $8.25 million deal, avoiding arbitration, was perhaps one of the team’s most important moves.

Rumors and conjecture swirled around prospects Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar and their battles for jobs at second base and third base, respectively. A number of candidates came in to challenge for the spots, and, as a result, both have been sent down in favor of Tyler Wade, along with veterans Neil Walker and Brandon Drury.

Despite their absences from the Opening Day roster, Gregorius’ leadership has proven to be invaluable for new manager Aaron Boone this spring, as he explained to Maureen Mullen of MLB.com.

“I’m seeing an established player, and we’re trying to challenge him to take on even more of a leadership role now, especially with our infield. He’s kind of the senior spokesman there. He’s the leader. It’s important for me that he really takes guys under his wing and kind of becomes the voice out there in our infield.”

Look for Gregorius to be a leader on and off the field for the young guys and an exciting impact player on both sides of the ball for the Yankees in their quest for World Series ring No. 28 this season.

Freelance writer, Yankees fan, and baseball fan writing to start, join and sustain the baseball conversation.