The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
"Sir Didi" Served the Yankees Well

The New York Yankees announced last week that they would not be making shortstop Didi Gregorius a qualifying offer to retain his services for 2020.  It’s understandable why the Yankees made this decision, as they have become log-jammed with infielder options and didn’t want to shell out the one-year $17.8 million tender.  Gregorius played only half of this season due to Tommy John surgery in October 2018, and didn’t return to his prior form.  So there is also some concern about his future health status.

But his release doesn’t mean Gregorius wasn’t a valuable contributor to the team since arriving in 2015.  He had the insurmountable task of replacing the immortal Derek Jeter, who had held the Yankees shortstop position for 20 seasons, ending in 2014.  Jeter ranks right up there with Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, and Berra as one of the all-time Yankee icons.  He was a tough act to follow.

In fact, no one could have filled Jeter’s shoes, but Gregorius didn’t disappoint Yankees management and fans with his performance throughout his tenure.  Yankees GM Brian Cashman gets credit for seeing something in Gregorius beyond what he demonstrated in his first three major league seasons with Cincinnati and Arizona.

A relatively inexperienced major leaguer, Gregorius had only one full season in the majors before he was acquired by the Yankees in 2015.  His athleticism was a plus, and he proved to be a serviceable shortstop, improving in all offensive categories as he appeared in 155 games in his first year with them. 

As the Yankees were doing a makeover of its team, moving from established veterans Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texeira, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann to a younger roster, Didi fit right in.  He was a key factor in the acceleration of the Yankees’ roster re-build that didn’t miss a beat in making the playoffs.

He got even better during the next three years, when he hit for a .277 average and averaged 24 HR and 81 RBI.  He posted a career-high 4.2 WAR in 2018.  With right-handed sluggers like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez in the lineup, it seemed a bit odd that Gregorius would hit fourth in the batting order.  But the left-handed hitter provided an effective cleanup bat in a lineup nicknamed the “Baby Bombers” for their home run prowess.

He returned from the injured list on June 7 this season, but his on-base percentage was a meager .276.  He still managed to hit 16 HR and 61 RBI.  While he was out, Gleyber Torres filled in and turned in an all-star season; he will likely be the full-time shortstop in 2019.

Gregorius will be one of the top picks in a weak free-agent group of shortstops this offseason.  It is reported the Cincinnati Reds are interested in signing him, but he’ll likely have several suitors.

It wasn’t an easy decision by the Yankees to let Gregorius go.  If nothing else, he’ll be remembered for his unique nickname, which resulted from his being knighted in his native country, The Netherlands, after the Dutch team upset Cuba in the 2011 Baseball World Cup.

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