Didi Gregorius smacked a pair of home runs against the Marlins on Monday night, depositing the two home run balls beyond the right field wall. It’s a location that has become the shortstop’s own personal playground at Yankee Stadium. The multi-home run game was Gregorius’ second of the season. We’re just over halfway through April.
Remarkably, the home runs are just part of Gregorius’ red-hot start to the season. Sure, his power has been out of this world over the first few weeks, as his league-leading .689 slugging percentage reflects. However, Gregorius has been so much more, and is showing the characteristics of becoming one of the most complete players in baseball.
Gregorius has feasted on righties in 2018, but the lefty has also posted a .951 OPS against southpaws this season, continuing his trend of success against left-handed pitching. As we mentioned last week, Gregorius’ newest addition to his arsenal has been his plate discipline, with the free-swinging shortstop becoming more selective, and in turn, more dangerous. As he continues to lay off of pitches out of the zone, his production skyrockets.
This trend is interesting because the percentage of pitches outside the zone that Didi has been swinging at was actually trending up over the years with the increase in w-OBA. Still, he wanted to improve, and his recent addition of patience at the plate has put him among the best left-handed hitters in the American League. Gregorius has already walked 12 times, while striking out just four. At this time last year, he had 12 strikeouts and three walks. That’s almost a literal flip-flop.
Looking at Didi’s steady upward climb in wOBA (and almost every other offensive category) over the past four seasons, it’s almost amusing to think about how often his name has been left out of conversations regarding the best shortstops in the league. Sure, the game is stacked with young and elite talent at the position, but Gregorius is right there among them. Updated Steamer projections has him finishing fourth in the league in WAR among shortstops, behind just Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor and Corey Seager. That’s elite company.
Remember back in the offseason when MLB Network created their most recent ‘Top 10 Right Now’ lists? According to ‘The Shredder,’ the network’s formula-driven rankings which compiles offensive and defensive statistics, Gregorius didn’t crack the list. In fact, he fell behind names like Tim Beckham and Elvis Andrus. Based on Gregorius’ performance over the past calendar year, I’d say ‘The Shredder’ is the perfect place to stick that list.
Expecting Gregorius to continue his current pace is absurd. Declining to acknowledge his status at an elite hitter and top-tier shortstop is equally absurd. After playing the part of postseason hero in 2017, Gregorius has continued to show that he is one of the most valuable members of a Yankees roster that includes hitters like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez. Simply put, Gregorius is a star, and should be recognized as one of the best in the game at his position.