Why Didi Gregorius has emerged as an unsung power threat for Yankees

NEW YORK Over the past three seasons, Didi Gregorius has become one of the best shortstops in baseball, developing a power stroke with the Yankees that he didn’t po se s in previous stops in Arizona and briefly Cincinnati.Since the start of the 2016 season, Gregorius has the fourth-most home runs among shortstops and is third in RBIs, fifth in slugging percentage, seventh in WAR, eighth in runs scored and 10th in defensive runs saved and UZR, per Fangraphs. And 10 games and 42 plate appearances into his 2018 campaign, Gregorius leads the American League in on-base percentage, slugging, OPS, total bases, runs and walks.MORE: SN’s MLB Power Rankings for AprilAfter hitting nine home runs in his first season with New York in 2015 the first starting shortstop in the Yankees’ post-Derek Jeter era how has Gregorius developed into a big-time power threat for his position?I haven’t changed anything. It’s been the same thing, same approach, Gregorius told Sporting News Gio Gonzalez Jersey . Nothing has changed, except probably driving it more in the gap. But that’s all I’m trying to do, trying to hit line drives from the left field line to the right field line, however they pitch me, and try to make adjustments from there.Despite Gregorius’ claims that he hasn’t changed, there’s one major change that could explain the spike in his power numbers over the past couple of seasons: More fly balls, as evidenced by the following chart:YearLine Drive %Ground Ball %Fly Ball %HR/Fly Ball %201521.244.734.16201619.640.140.310.420172036.243.812.1201817.234.548.321.4Gregorius’ line-drive rate barely changed, but his percentage of fly balls went up nearly 10 percentage points from 2015, when he hit nine home runs, to 2017, when he smacked 25. And as he hit more fly balls, the percentage of them that went out increased as well. Consistent with the recent power surge seen in baseball, Gregorius is hitting more balls in the air and seeing his run production greatly improve.He was probably more of a line-drive, gap-to-gap, contact type of guy early in his career and he’s developed really into a threat, a middle-of-the-order, power, run-producing threat, Yankees infielder Neil Walker said. And that’s not an easy thing to do in this game.MORE: Stanton’s historically poor start just ‘a bad week’Orioles All-Star second baseman Jonathan Schoop grew up playing with and against Gregorius in their native Curacao, and said you always knew he would bring his A game and that you had to be ready for that as an opponent.He was always a good hitter, since he was young, Schoop said. But it’s Joaquin Benoit Jersey a matter of time and [getting] the chances and the experience. Now he’s gotta maintain it and get better every year.Believe it or not, outfielder Brett Gardner is the only active position player who’s been on this Yankees roster as long as Gregorius Jacoby Ellsbury is on the disabled list and has witne sed Gregorius’ offensive evolution up close.When he came over here, obviously trying to step into the shoes of Derek Jeter, I didn’t really know what to expect. I don’t think anybody did, Gardner said. And the way he’s transformed his game over the last couple of years is just unbelievable. I don’t think he gets near enough credit that he deserves. He’s just a really, really, really special player.Gardner also spoke about Gregorius’ ability to drive runners in and get timely hits, as evidenced by a .304/.321/.480 slash line with runners in scoring position last year. His 61 RBIs in those situations ranked third among shortstops last season, per MLB.com.Gregorius’ knack for driving in runs came in handy last week against Tampa Bay in the Yankees’ home opener. He not only hit a pair of three-run homers, but also capped off the 11-4 win by hitting a two-run single in the eighth inning to give him eight RBIs on the day, the most by any player in a home opener in baseball history. FOSTER: Shohei Ohtani is the real deal, so let’s just say itAnd as Gregorius has emerged as a power threat, he’s now hitting fifth in a stacked Yankees order behind Gardner, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez. Yankees radio announcer John Sterling suggested last week that opposing pitchers may let up or breathe a sigh of relief after getting past Judge and Stanton, making Gregorius a major beneficiary of New York’s relentle s batting order.I do think that teams probably think that once they get through Judge and Stanton, the chances of significant damage is not as increased, Walker said. But the fact of the matter is that guys like Didi and Gary (Sanchez) are gonna have a lot of opportunities, just as Judge and Stanton will, to drive in runs and do damage.Once Stanton gets things going, Gregorius is going to have a unique opportunity to drive in a lot of runs for this Yankees offense. No shortstop has driven in at least 100 runs during a regular season since Troy Tulowitzki did it in 2011, and Gregorius could have a real chance to break that streak.I’m just trying to keep the same aggre sive approach that I have, selective aggre sive, and try to https://www.nationalsedges.com/washington-nationals/anthony-rendon-jersey put on good swings, Gregorius said. All I’m trying to do is try to get on base for the next guy to do something.

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