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Gregorius Becoming Elite
We are only 15 games into the 2018 season, and Didi Gregorius is starting to establish himself as one of the games elite players. Gregorius’ 1.4 FanGraphs WAR is currently tied for first place with Matt Chapman of the Oakland Athletics. Bryce Harper is third on the list, and Aaron Judge is fifth.
Gregorius already has 16 RBIs in 15 games played. He has scored 14 runs, and a remarkable 12 of his 16 hits have been for extra bases. Opposing pitchers are also starting to pitch around Gregorius; after walking only 25 times in 570 plate appearances last year, he has 12 walks already this year.
In addition to his scorching hot bat, Gregorius has been solid defensively. Gregorius currently ranks fifth among American League shortstops in Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating. Also, Gregorius hasn’t made an error yet in his 24 chances.
Hidden Among Big Names
With so many other big bats in the lineup, opposing teams might not be spending as much time figuring out how to get Gregorius out. The likes of Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Giancarlo Stanton are more than enough for the opposition to prepare for. The three Yankees are all defending Silver Slugger Award winners, so it’s not unreasonable for this to be the case. However, pitching staffs are going to have to spend more time figuring out how to limit the damage Gregorius can inflict on their team. Gregorius could dethrone Francisco Lindor and win the AL Silver Slugger for shortstop.
Great Off-season Improvements
Clearly Gregorius has spent a lot of time this off season improving his plate discipline. In past seasons, Gregorius walked at a paltry 3-6 percent. The league average is about 8 percent, so his walks were roughly half of the league average. So far this season, Gregorius has walked 18.5 percent of the time. Anything above 15 percent is considered elite. If Gregorius can maintain that walk rate, it sure starts to point to him being an elite hitter.
This could be the year Gregorius makes his first all-star appearance. Although the American League currently has a plethora of great shortstops, Gregorius is starting to establish himself as a legitimate member of their club. There is also the side benefit of Yankee fans voting for their players in droves, which in this case will help a deserving candidate.