It’s hard to imagine anyone having a more unenviable task than Didi Gregorius having to follow Derek Jeter as the Yankee shortstop. Brian Cashman swung a three-team trade that brought Gregorius to the Bronx for Shane Greene, who looked fairly promising.
Since then, Gregorius has done nothing but reinforce how great of a decision Cashman made to believe in him as a worthy successor to Jeter. Many believed that Gregorius would amount to a good defender who hit a lot like a shortstop, but Didi’s bat was especially good in 2017 in addition to what has always been a very solid glove.
In 136 games this season, Gregorius hit .287/.318/.478 with 25 (yes, 25) home runs. Those statistics were good enough for 3.9 fWAR, which put him third among Yankee position players behind only Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Not bad company to keep.
Perhaps the most memorable parts of Didi’s season came in the postseason. After the Yankees fell behind 3-0 early in the do-or-die Wild Card game, Didi stepped to the plate and launched a home run that tied the game and reignited the entire stadium. That wasn’t the end of his big postseason run, though. He hit two home runs in Cleveland when the Yankees were fighting their way back in the ALDS.
For a while, it seemed like the plan was to have Gregorius serve as a stop-gap in New York until a shortstop prospect panned out to take his spot. Now, it seems as though he has deservedly cemented his spot in the Yankees’ infield. The presence he has brought to the team has been a tremendous addition on top of what he is able to contribute both offensively and defensively.