Yankees: Didi Gregorius proving clutch in postseason, just like his predecessor

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

A Yankees shortstop stepping up in October is a phrase that has been uttered before. Derek Jeter was normally the subject of that statement, but in 2017 Didi Gregorius has inhabited the clutch gene.

When Derek Jeter retired, the main concern for the New York Yankees was who was going to replace him. Jeter was the cornerstone of the success in the late ‘90s and early 2000s and brought back the Yankee winning tradition back.

Didi Gregorius was acquired in a three-team trade in December of 2014, and the expectations were sky-high.

Replacing Jeter would be a difficult task for anyone to accomplish. Hence, Didi struggled during his first two years in pinstripes. He didn’t look comfortable and was obviously feeling the pressure to replace one of the greatest shortstops of all time.

But as he got more comfortable, Gregorius’ play improved. And 2017 proved to be his best year yet, breaking the franchise record for home runs by a shortstop in a season with 25.

Aside from being a fantastic shortstop, Jeter is arguably the best postseason hitter of all time. A walk-off home run in the 2001 World Series, the flip in the 2001 ALDS, a leadoff home run in Game 4 of the 2000 World Series at Shea Stadium. The list goes on and on.

The clutch gene is something the Jeter is said to have possessed, and it looks like he passed it down to his successor.

More from Yankees News

The Yankees’ lineup has struggled this postseason despite advancing to the ALCS. Aaron Judge has three hits in 24 at-bats, Gary Sanchez is hitting .222 and there has been zero production out of the DH spot.

However, Gregorius is hitting a solid .250 with an on-base percentage of .444 during his six postseason games in 2017.

Let’s take it back to the Wild Card Game. Luis Severino gets roughed up and allows three first-inning runs — Yankee Stadium is dead quiet and in need of a spark.

In steps Didi, and he immediately deposits a three-run homer into the stands. Shades of Derek Jeter were apparent, but after that long ball, he hit a 1-for-15 skid. Gregorius’ postseason heroics looked like a fluke.

Fast forward to Game 5 of the ALDS. A struggling Didi faces off against the leading candidate for the AL Cy Young Award, Corey Kluber.

Didi parks two consecutive home runs into the right-field stands to give the Yankees a three-run lead. But more importantly, he silenced the normally raucous Cleveland crowd.

Without Gregorius, the Yankees might not have even made it to the ALDS, let alone the ALCS. He has picked up the slack of his teammates, and when he was struggling, they picked in-turn him up. That’s what good teams do, and that’s what makes this Yankee team so special.

The new generation of Yankees, the Baby Bombers, have yet to find their identity. They are all still young men who are playing very good baseball but lack the dynamic that the Core Four and those other championship teams.

Those clubs were raw and gritty, and that came with time. That’s what it’s going to take for this new generation of player, time to find themselves and figure out what kind of legacy they want to leave.

Didi Gregorius has established his postseason legacy which is eerily similar to the shortstop of the past. People were concerned if Gregorius could handle taking over for The Captain, but in his first real postseason run, Sir Didi has proven the doubters wrong.

Next: Losing Game 2 of the ALDS pushes Yanks to ALCS

While he isn’t the homegrown shortstop of the past, he is similar in the fact that he has proven clutch to this point in his short postseason career.