Bronx Bombers: Didi Gregorius Is A Good Replacement For Derek Jeter

Let’s get one thing straight, no one will replace the level of production that Derek Jeter sustained for the Yankees in his 20-year major league career. The Captian should be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer in 2019 and could break Ken Griffey Jr.’s record for most first-place votes.

During his career, Jeter racked up five World Series rings, 14 All-Star game appearances, five Gold Glove awards, five Silver Slugger awards, and the 1995 Rookie of the Year honors.

He finished with a lifetime .310 batting average, 3,465 hits, 260 home runs, 1,923 runs scored and had an OBP/SLG/OPS of .377/.440/.817.

“So how in the hell can Didi Gregorius stack up to The Captian?”

He can’t.

“Then what’s with the article title?”

Here’s the point: Gregorius has become an adequate shortstop for a Yankees and has exceeded the expectations of the front office. When Gregorius took over the position in 2015, not one person could say that they would see him hitting 25 home runs and have clutch postseason at-bats in 2017. And if someone says they predicted that, then they are lying and need professional help.

At age 27, Gregorius provided the Yankees with plenty of power, good defense from the shortstop position and was consistently in the lineup for Joe Girardi.

Excel Sports Management, who used to represent Jeter now currently represents Gregorius. Michael Neligan, who handles the marketing for Gregorius, sees a strong similarity between the two shortstops.

“Didi does the small things,” Neligan said. “Derek could walk into a room and make you feel like you are best friends. Fans really do pick up on that very quickly.”

What’s interesting is Jeter and Gregorius were never teammates. So the current shortstop exemplifies these Jeter-like qualities on his own. But enough about off-the-field qualities, let’s discuss three key reasons why Gregorius has proved to be a sufficient replacement.

Regular Season Batting

Gregorius had his best offensive season to date and the most powerful one for a Yankee shortstop since Jeter’s age-25 season in 1999. This season Gregorius surpassed Jeter’s franchise record for homers by a shortstop.

Let’s compare the two seasons:

Gregorius (2017): .287 avg, 153 hits, 25 HR, 87 RBI, .796 OPS, and 70 strikeouts.

Jeter (1999): .349 avg, 219 hits (league leader), 24 HR, 102 RBI, .989 OPS, and 116 strikeouts.

As stated earlier, no one is looking for Gregorius to be the next Derek Jeter. That sort of talent only comes around once in a generation. However, you have to admit that Gregorius looks pretty decent compared to Jeter’s most powerful season in the big leagues.

Jeter never reached 100 RBIs in a single season after ’99, and only hit 20-plus homers in two other seasons. Gregorius may not hit .300 for his career like Jeter, but he may be able to hit 20-plus home runs more times than Jeter did. Last year – Gregorius’ second full regular season – he hit 20 home runs and drove in 70 runs. His power is on a steady incline along with the fact that he plays 81 games at Yankee Stadium with a short porch to his pull side.

A consistent .270-.280 hitter with 20-plus home runs and 80 RBI is what every franchise dreams about for shortstop…anything more is a bonus. The Yankees may have found that guy for the next five years or so.

Postseason Heroics

This is the BIG ONE. Jeter’s abilities reached a new peak when it was time for the postseason to start. There have been so many signature moments from The Captian. Like the flip to home plate to nail Jeremy Giambi in the 2001 ALDS against the Athletics to the walk-off home run, he hit in the 2001 World Series when the clock struck midnight and made it Nov. 1, prompting John Sterling to deem him ‘Mr. November’.

Well, Gregorius has taken over with two heroic moments this 2017 postseason as well. Both coming at the dish. The first was in the American League Wild Card game.

After falling down 3-0 to the Twins in the top of the first, Gregorius sent a frozen rope into the right-field stands to tie the game at 3-3 and give the Yankees the momentum they needed to win the game and advance to the ALDS.

Gregorius had deja vu in the following series elimination Game 5. Hitting not one, but two home runs off Indians ace Corey Kluber.

This postseason is far from over for the Yankees and by the looks of it Gregorius and company will have plenty more trips to the postseason in the near future.

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