Didi Gregorius faced one of the most unenviable challenges imaginable when he was acquired by the New York Yankees to replace Derek Jeter. Three years later, he obviously hasn’t made anyone forget about the Hall of Fame career Jeter put together as he helped lead the Yankees to five World Series titles over 20 seasons. But Gregorius has proven to be a more than capable replacement.
At age 27, Gregoruis still seems to be getting better and more comfortable in his role, and nothing supports that more than the offensive feat he accomplished during Monday’s 7-4 win against the Orioles.
With his 20th home run of the season, Gregroius is now in a club all by himself in terms of Yankees shortstops. He’s homered at least 20 times in consecutive seasons, which no other Yankees shortstop has ever done, including Jeter, Phil Rizzuto or Tony Kubek.
AND you, Sir, became the first Yankees shortstop ever to have back-to-back 20 HR seasons! Bravo, Sir Didi! ⚔ https://t.co/LwEyfktl9J
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 4, 2017
Obviously, power wasn’t the driving force behind Jeter’s game or many of the other Yankees shortstops prior to Gregorius, but 20 is a modest enough number that you’d suspect someone had done this before. Especially given the depth of the Yankees history.
Alas, Gregorius stands alone in this regard. It’s worth noting though that Jeter did have two 20-homer seasons during the course of his career, but they were separated by five years. Jeter hit 24 in his career best season in 1999, and then 23 in 2004. With four full weeks left to play, Gregorius stands an excellent chance to put together the Yankees most productive offensive season since that 2004 campaign.
On a personal level, Gregorius’ next home run will be a career high for him, and he’s seven RBIs away from his career mark. Both were set in 2016.
Aaron Judge is getting all of the headlines as the new face of the Yankees franchise, and understandably so. But when you talk about steady contributors who have helped to keep the Yankees in the thick of the AL East and wild card races, no single player has been more important than Gregorius.
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