Yankees: This is the year of Didi Gregorius

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: Didi Gregorius
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: Didi Gregorius /

With all the hype surrounding MVP Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge’s sophomore season, Didi Gregorius is quietly becoming a star for the Yankees.

The Yankees have suited the likes of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson. Derek Jeter is arguably the greatest Yankee to ever play for the storied franchise. Jeter is a first-ballot Hall of Famer (career numbers include 3,465 hits and a .310 batting average) and a winner (5-time World Series champion). But Jeter never had back-to-back 20+ homer campaigns.

Jeter’s replacement, Didi Gregorius, already has accomplished that feat and if his hot start to the 2018 season is any indication of the year to come, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton won’t be the only Yankees getting all the hype.

With the Diamondbacks, Gregorius was valued for his slick fielding and ability to play anywhere in the infield. He’s taken advantage of the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium and hit with power. Last season, against right-handed pitching Gregorius, batted nearly .300 while slugging .523 with 22 home runs.

He’s also delivering with a Jeter-like clutchness including hitting .327 with runners on, .304 with runners in scoring position, and .313 with two outs and runners in scoring position. With the Goliath’s Judge and Stanton leading the Yankees, Gregorius’s surprise power is an added bonus for an already dangerous and deep lineup.

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In the young season, Yankees fans serenaded Stanton with boos during his home debut after a forgettable 0-for-5 performance with five strikeouts. However, Didi picked up the slack with two 3-run homers and 8 RBIs total.

Throughout the season there will be many times where teams pitch around Judge and Stanton. That will lead to Didi having a ton of at-bats with runners on and where he’ll see a lot of fastballs.

New manager Aaron Boone has hit Gregorius cleanup. Even with Judge and Stanton looking a lot like the second calling of the Bash Brothers, Gregorius could quietly sneak in with a franchise record season of 30+ home runs and 100+ RBIs as a shortstop.

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Much of the attention is centered around Stanton, but Gregorius is now in his fourth season with the Yankees so his leadership is needed. He has to hit better during the playoffs to alleviate pressure on Stanton and Judge. Jeter was never flashy, but he was consistent, and if Gregorius can follow that shadow Yankees fans could see title #28 hanging at the end of the year.