New York Yankees' Didi Gregorius (18) raises his batting helmet to the crowd after hitting a solo home run, his second of the game, against the Miami Marlins during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Monday, April 16, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Yankee shortstop a key piece of the puzzle

On a roster oozing with star power, Didi Gregorius is often forgotten about as a necessary variable to the Yankees championship equation. With all the big names currently lacing up for the pinstripes, it is easy to lose sight of Gregorius, who may be the most well-rounded player on this team. Born in the Amsterdam, Netherlands, Mariekson Julius “Didi” Gregorius is in his prime at 28 years old and looks to be blossoming into one of the premier shortstops in the game. The nickname Didi is a family name his father went by which has stuck in the United States as it is easier to pronounce than Mariekson. A 3rd generation baseball player, his father and grandfather both played baseball professionally. Didi Sr. played for the Amsterdam Pirates and his grandfather was a 6 foot 7 pitcher for Lucky Strike, a team in his native Curacao. Baseball runs in this young player’s veins and the underappreciated star has a lot to prove this season.

Follow Yankees Shortstop Didi Gregorius on Twitter @DidiG18

Through 22 games this season, Didi Gregorius is hitting .347 to go along with 8 homeruns, 7 doubles and 27 runs batted in. Up to this point, he has walked more than he has struck out (9:15 K:BB ratio) and looks to poised to build on last year’s breakout campaign where he put up big numbers and finished in the top 20 in AL MVP voting. The middle infielder has shown that he can be a middle of the order producing hitter and is a key cog in the Yankees lineup. He has proven to be a piece that perfectly complements the all or nothing approach that is prevalent in this lineup structure. Through his high contact rate and gap-to-gap approach, he is the ideal fit to hit in front of the big boppers the Bronx bombers currently deploy. Although never discussed when talking about the stars in the Yanks lineup, Gregorius who looks to be more than able to take on the task. In the post-Jeter era, the shortstop position has been solidified by the Dutch magician and no baseball mind can downplay the importance of solidifying the center of the field to any baseball team that wants to be successful.

Winning teams are filled with players exactly like Didi Gregorius. Not only is he developing into the perfect bat to hit alongside teammates Stanton, Judge and Sanchez, he is also a reliable defender at the games most demanding position aside from catcher. In a Yankees uniform, he has been consistent defensively, posting only 9 errors in 135 games last year and has 1 error so far in 2018. The wiry athlete has always had the talent and range to be a great defender, the difference in his development in New York has been through the mental aspect of the game where he has matured and limited mistakes that his position, with the high volume of chances, can have a high tendency to make.

In the three-team trade that brought the shortstop to New York, (Didi Gregorius to NY, Shane Greene to DET, and Robbie Ray to ARI) no fan thought he would have the impact that he is having today. Gregorius displayed weaknesses in his early development that pointed towards a lack of power in his swing, and patience in his approach that would hinder his value as an offensive player. He looked to be a spray type contact hitter who did not really hit for a high average. Many thought that he would be a stepping stone for some other splashy free agent shortstop but rest assured that this versatile, dynamic playmaker will be as important as anyone in a Yankees post season run. Overcoming these perceived weaknesses is nothing strange to the budding star. Throughout his young career, he seemed destined to be a “glove only” shortstop who lacked the pop to be a threat at the plate on a consistent basis. On the contrary, he has developed into an excellent left-handed hitter with unexpected power, taking full advantage of the short right field dimensions of Yankee Stadium.

Proving the doubters wrong has been a part of his plan all along and he has to stepped up in the spotlight for the Yankees. The Dutch-born star developed into an all-around Major League stud who can not only make all the necessary defensive plays but also support the team offensively as a run producer with game changing extra base hit ability. Stanton, Judge and Sanchez are great hitters but are also very streaky, so his consistency will be an integral part of plans at an extended postseason run. It is a pleasure to introduce you to do Didi Gregorius, the Yankees’ most underappreciated star and a crucial piece to their ultimate goal of another World Series.