By: Billy Lewis
December 5, 2014, is going to go down as one of the best days in recent Yankee memory. It was on this date that the Yankees traded for Diamondbacks’ Shortstop Didi Gregorius. It was a three-team also involving the Tigers which saw the Yankees send Shane Greene to the Tigers, Diamondbacks send Gregorius to the Yankees and the Tigers send Robbie Ray and Domingo Leyba to the Diamondbacks.
Gregorius would come to the Bronx with the daunting task of replacing Derek Jeter. At the time of the trade, Didi was thought of as a slick-fielding, light-hitting shortstop. I can remember at the time a scout saying that you’d live with Gregorius hitting .230 because he was such a good fielder. Didi struggled to begin the 2015 season and many fans were ready to write him off.
Slowly but surely Didi’s game came around. He finished 2015 with a career high.265 AVG 9 HR and 56 RBIs. He was also a Gold Glove finalist, though Alcides Escobar would go on to win the award. Since then Didi has steadily improved.
In 2016 he improved his batting stats to .276/20/70 and then again in 2017 to .287/25/87. Keep in mind in 2017 he missed most of April with a shoulder injury and still managed to hit the most home runs in a season by a Yankee shortstop (Derek Jeter, 24,1999). Along with being a strong presence in the Yankee lineup, Didi has also emerged as a team leader in the clubhouse and sends out much-anticipated tweets after every Yankee win.
The Yankees shortstop has had an explosive start to the 2018 season. Entering Thursday’s game he leads Major League Baseball in average (.372) RBIs (29) and slugging (.833). He also is second in home runs with 9, only trailing Mike Trout’s 10. Didi isn’t just off to a great start, he’s off to a historically great start.
Didi Gregorius is 1st shortstop in MLB history with at least 8 HR and 27 RBI in team’s 1st 22 games.
— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) April 25, 2018
He’s turned himself into a force to be reckoned with in the Yankees stacked lineup. He finds himself hitting third between Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, not bad for a guy who was thought of as a light hitter. Gregorius had one of the best offensive seasons by a Yankees shortstop last year and is on pace to be even better this year. Will he continue his torrid pace? Probably not, but he should threaten 30 homers and 100 RBIs.
Didi has turned the early boos into cheers and has quickly become a fan favorite. Major League Baseball is flush of good young shortstops: Manny Machado, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, and Fransico Lindor to name a few. Didi his throwing his name right into the middle of that list. Gregorius is only 26 and appears to be getting better and better every year. If he can hit over .300 with 30 HRs and 100 RBIs, he will find himself right in the middle of the MVP discussion.