Remember when the story with Didi Gregorius was that he was a glove-first shortstop who couldn’t hit? Turns out that was nothing but a myth.
Tuesday’s home opener for the New York Yankees was a special one for Didi Gregorius. The shortstop showed off his power at the plate by blasting two three-run home runs in the Yanks’ 11-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, finishing with a game-high eight RBI, the most ever in a game by a Yankees shortstop in their illustrious history.
Since Yankees general manager Brian Cashman acquired Gregorius before the 2015 season, the 28-year-old has transformed himself into one of the best players on the Yankees. His fielding is off the charts, but his bat has become maybe the most powerful weapon in the Yankees lineup.
After missing a month of the season in 2017, Gregorius put up All-Star-caliber numbers for the Yankees, which included a club single-season record for a shortstop with 25 home runs to go along with a .287 batting average and 87 RBI.
In the midst of the Yankees trading players like Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman for assets and bringing up prospects during the 2016 season, Gregorius put together a nice season for the Bronx Bombers. He batted .270 with 20 home runs and 70 RBI.
The biggest thing that stands out with Didi is his ability to come up with big hits in key moments during the last few seasons.
We saw it last year in the American League Wild Card game where he blasted a thunderous three-run home run to tie the game in the first inning. A week later we saw it in Cleveland during Game Five of the ALDS where his two home run game helped the Yankees defeat the Cleveland Indians to advance to the ALCS.
In Tuesday’s game against the Rays, Gregorius was clutch again. His three-run shot in the third inning broke a 1-1 tie, while his seventh-inning home run helped seal the game for the Yankees.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone sure notices Didi’s ability to hit in the clutch.
“I think everyone around the game understands how good he is,” Boone said, via the New York Daily News’ John Harper. “And what a big-time money player he has become. That what quite a show he put on today.”
Gregorius consistency at the plate has paved big dividends for the Yankees last year and to begin the 2018 season.
When your big slugger, Giancarlo Stanton, goes 0-5 with five strikeouts in a game, having a guy like Gregorius to be able to get the job done behind him is a big luxury for the Yankees.
“He picked me up,” Stanton said of Gregorius via ESPN’s Coley Harvey. “That’s what a cleanup hitter does — clean up the garbage in front of you.”
It’s been evident the last two seasons that Gregorius is one of the most dangerous hitters in the Yankees lineup. His ability to get hits in big situations, while also be very consistent at the plate is why he should be the everyday cleanup hitter for the Yankees. That’s even when Greg Bird comes back from his foot injury.
He’s the best hitter by far for the Yankees to start the season, batting .444 with two home runs and eight RBI, all of which are team highs. Probably the biggest thing going for Gregorius is that he gets on base. He’s got a team-high .524 on-base percentage and has reached base safely in all five games played this season.
Gregorius also has a team-high eight hits. When you lead the team in the top-five offensive categories, you’re doing something right at the plate and that’s why Siri Didi should be the everyday cleanup hitter for the Yankees going forward.
It was a slow start for Gregorius in pinstripes, but he has grown into one great ballplayer before our eyes and has become a fan favorite in the Bronx. If there anyone the Yankees want up in a key spot, it’s Gregorius. He’s without a doubt the most reliable hitter for the Yankees.
He’s some who doesn’t brag about himself, but right now Gregorius has to feel great about his performance over the last two seasons.
You’re not seeing Yankees fans wishing Derek Jeter was still the team’s shortstop anymore.