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Didi Gregorius’ slump is driven by bad luck

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The numbers show that Gregorius is on the right track to shaking his current funk.

MLB: New York Yankees at Los Angeles Angels Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are flying high, having finished 7-2 on their nine-game homestand to continue their winning surge. What has been one of the most impressive aspects of their ascent to the top of the AL East has been the team’s ability to win without production from Didi Gregorius, who has struggled badly in the current calendar month.

Gregorius was the leader who helped the Yankees stay afloat through the first 18 games of the season, keeping the team around .500 by posting a wRC+ of 195 while many of his teammates struggled. Without April’s American League Player of the Month, the Yankees may still be a handful of games off the pace for the division lead.

May, however, has been downright rude to Gregorius. An 0-for-30 slide contributed to a dreadful -18 wRC+ so far this month. He’s also just managed a .343 OPS since the calendar turned. The numbers look dreadful. A deeper dive into those stats, though, provides hope that Gregorius may be on his way back, provided he escapes some bad baseball luck.

The first number that jumps out is a .143 BABIP on the month. Consider his .289 mark when April came to a close. Gregorius’ walk and strikeout rates are both currently lower in May than they were in April, so he his still putting plenty of balls in play. For a contact swinger like Gregorius, to have a .143 average of balls put in play is downright painful. Despite making contact, he managed just one hit on the recent home stand while only striking out three times. That’s more than a slump. It’s terrible fortune.

Of course, Gregorius could just be taking poor swings of late and making weak contact. When looking at his hard contact percentages in May, though, one finds they are right on par with his normal pace. The three-game set against Boston was the only series where Gregorius’ soft contact rate reach 50-percent. In fact, it was the only time all month. As Aaron Boone said when asked about Gregorius and a potential drop in the lineup, the shortstop has been squaring the ball up, but struggling to find holes.

Boone has a point. Gregorius ripped two balls on Friday against the Athletics, one that collided off of pitcher Chris Hatcher and one driven out to straightaway center. He also gave one a ride to the warning track against the Red Sox on Thursday night. Rarely does a hitter make consistent contact and stay in a slump for long. By the looks of it, Gregorius should be on his way to breaking out.

The stat sheet doesn’t show it, but Gregorius is still a phenomenal hitter that has been on the rise to stardom since coming to the Bronx. He may not return to the ridiculous numbers he put up in April, but he won’t be in this current slump for long.