It wasn’t that long ago that it was a complete stretch to figure out which Yankees you could call the team’s MVP. It looked like 2016 may be another one of those seasons until the team turned things around and made a real run for the postseason after the All-Star break. There are a few different players who have a valid argument for the award, but Didi Gregorius has the strongest case.
Gary Sanchez was absolutely the second half MVP. What he was able to do after coming up in August was nothing short of amazing. Much like the real Rookie of the Year race, his number of games played has to be taken into consideration. Masahiro Tanaka was the team’s best pitcher, but it still doesn’t quite feel right giving a guy who only contributes every five days the MVP award unless it’s just completely overwhelming.
When it comes to Gregorius, he has become everything the Yankees could have hoped for as their replacement for Derek Jeter. Trading for Gregorius seemed like it might be a move to obtain a stop-gap shortstop until the farm was able to produce a shortstop of the future. Didi’s strong 2016 puts less pressure on the farm to produce right away.
The question of Gregorius’ future as a big leaguer always surrounded whether or not he’d hit enough to be a regular. Didi’s glove has always been pretty spectacular, and that was certainly the case in 2016. His defense is very, very good. Offensively, Didi put everything together. That was mainly aided by the fact that he hit a career high 20 home runs when he had failed to hit double digits in any other season. As a left-handed hitter in Yankee Stadium, some of that may be helped by the short porch, but they all count just the same.
The Yankees have a decent amount of young shortstops in the pipeline, but Gregorius has cemented his spot on the team for now. He’s one of the more likable players on the team, as well. That doesn’t matter for things like MVP awards, but it’s always nice when a player is easy to root for.
Gregorius had plenty of competition for Yankees MVP, but being a daily presence in the lineup and all of his dingers gives him the edge.