Yankees: Mirror Mirror On The Wall, Is Didi The Fairest Of Them All

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees offense, with one lone exception, was awful in 2016. Runs were at a premium and if the team is going to compete against the likes of Boston and Toronto, improvement is a must. The light shines brightly on the young talent in camp now, but it’s the seasoned veteran at shortstop who just might carry the team in 2017

Yankees shortstop, Didi Gregorius, at 27, now has four full seasons in the big leagues. By most standards, he had what is termed a breakout season in 2016. He demonstrated power (20 home runs), durability (155 games), and efficiency (82 strikeouts in 600 plate appearances) for the Yankees.

The trouble is, though, that he plays a position that has a phenomenal wealth of talent, as indicated in a recent ranking by FoxSports that lists all five of these players ahead of Gregorius.

Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies.
Carlos Correa, Houston Astros.
Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox.
Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers.
Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians.

But to concentrate on his absence from that list, or any other list is to miss the point of how valuable Gregorius is to the Yankees team. And it just might be that Gregorius is going to be one of those players who flies under the radar for his entire career while piling up numbers that only get noticed when his career is completed. For comparison, think of someone like Omar Vizquel, who is now entered in the discussion for the Hall Of Fame.

Rarely heard from and seldom quoted by the Yankees beat writers, Gregorius seems to be content to do his job on the field. He downplays the power he showed last season, but it has not gone overlooked by others, including manager Joe Girardi who told NJ.com this when asked about his power:

"“I do,” Girard said. “I can’t say that he’ll hit 20. There’s always some things that have to go right. But there’s always power in there whenever you watch Didi play. But I do think he can come close to that, beat it and maybe even hit a few more.”"

Being in a training camp with budding stars like Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, and so on doesn’t help either regarding Gregorius getting the attention he warrants. Luckily, though, he is not the type to wave the flag on the field announcing to all, “I’m over here.”

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What any manager wants from each of his players is steadiness. Girardi wants to know that this player is my guy to steal a base, and this guy is the one I can count on to move the runners over, and that guy is the one who’ll bang a ball off the scoreboard and electrify the team, as Judge did on Friday.

Gregorius is that type of player, and he can be relied on to avoid slumps and get his 1-4 with a home run or 2-4 with a single, double, a RBI, and a run scored in almost every game he played.

Of note, by the way, Gregorius ripped a solo shot off Philadelphia starter Alec Asher‘s first pitch with one out in the first inning Friday that went largely unnoticed in deference to Judge’s bomb.

Comparisons to Derek Jeter would be mindless at this point. But at the same time, if Gregorius can maintain the kind of consistency he has demonstrated both at the plate and in the field, he could, as with Jeter, prove to be a major cog in the Yankees lineup, and hit 20 home runs to boot.

Next: This Week In Yankees History

Gleyber Torres is on the rise, but so is Didi Gregorius. And it should not be a given that Torres will push Gregorius aside when he arrives to wear the Pinstripes.