4. The Dynamic Middle-Infield Duo
Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro recently made headlines when they became the first pair of New York Yankees middle infielders to hit 20 home runs in a season. While neither is a true superstar, New York’s 26-year-old double play combo each took big steps forward this year, and there are reasons to think that neither has quite reached his peak.
Gregorius comes into Saturday with a .274/.303/.446 (97 OPS+) batting line in 593 PA. He set career-highs in almost every major offensive category this season, including hits (153), runs (68), doubles (32), home runs (20), RBI (69), and stolen bases (7). Didi’s numbers have been slowly ticking upward the last three seasons, so this feels like natural growth that could continue rather than a fluky career-year that won’t be replicated.
Few 26-year-olds can match Starlin Castro’s resume, but after turning in two replacement level-ish performances in the previous three seasons, it wasn’t clear what the Yankees were getting when they traded for him last winter.
True to form, fans still probably don’t have a great bead on what Castro will bring to the table going forward. He was awful both at the plate and in the field during the first half, but went on a tear in August and finished the season as the team’s regular cleanup hitter.