Yankees Didi Gregorius Already Showing Defensive Acumen


It is always difficult to be the player that follows a legend. Players like Derek Jeter are a once in a generation talent, a truly irreplaceable part of a team. Years from now, grandchildren will listen to stories of his exploits, much like how we listened to tales of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig or even Phil Rizzuto. That is the unenviable task that Didi Gregorius is undertaking this year.

While Gregorius is not likely to find himself mentioned in the same breath as the legends of yore involving the New York Yankees, he has already made a mark upon the team. Other players have raved about Gregorius’ defensive capabilities, citing his range and arm as being among the best they have seen.

Considering that Jeter won five Gold Glove awards over his twenty year career, this may be considered blasphemous. This has to mean that Jeter was a great defensive shortstop, right? Well….no. Jeter got by more on his knowledge of the batters and knowing exactly where to position himself, helping to offset the fact that he had the range of a not so mobile statue.

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Didi Gregorius, meanwhile, is the exact opposite. While Derek Jeter is considered by the advanced fielding metrics to have actually cost the Yankees 182 runs defensively over his career, Gregorius has been about league average. Just having a shortstop that is even average defensively would be a major upgrade, especially given what the Yankees have had over the past few seasons.

The jury is still going to be out as to whether or not Gergorius is going to be a productive member of the lineup. His career .243/.313/.366 batting line and 88 OPS+ is not going to remind people of Jeter’s offensive prowess. Gregorius, however, may not need to produce like Jeter did on offense, especially if he is able to prevent a few runs with his defense.

It is certainly going to be strange to watch a Yankees game and not see Derek Jeter at short this season. However, Yankees fans will get to see something that they have not seen for quite some time – a solid defensive player who is able to do more than make the routine play at short. At least on defense, Didi Gregorius should be able to more than replace Jeter in the lineup.

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