Didi Gregorius’s 2019 was, let’s say, less than.
After coming off Tommy John surgery to fix an elbow he destroyed in the postseason last season, Didi made his triumphant return to the Yankees lineup on June 7th where he would go 2-for-4 looking like he hadn’t missed a single step.
(It wouldn’t last).
Didi looked lost at the plate and completely vacant of confidence for the remainder of the season. His awful 2019 season ended with a dreadful September hitting 17-for-85 (.176) and looking absolutely lost at the plate.
People truly believed Didi should be removed from the postseason roster allowing Gleyber Torres to play shortstop, DJ LeMahieu to play second base and Didi to go hang out with like, Clint Frazier or something.
Fast forward to the ALDS and Didi Gregorius reminded the world who he is.
In the Yankees three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins, Didi hit .400 with a GRAND SLAM, 6 RBIs, 2 runs, 2 BBs and was without a doubt the MVP of the series.
Not only did Didi carry the Yankees with his bat. When Aroldis Chapman was dead set on blowing the game in the bottom of the 9th, Gregorius decided he was having none of it and brought a gold glove with him to send Minnesota home in a uber.
The Yankees acquired Gregorius in 2014 to fill the shoes of a giant. Didi would start his Yankees career the following season, batting .221 in his first two months in pinstripes with six fielding errors.
Safe to say we missed Derek Jeter’s creepy ass. But in Didi’s defense, he played alongside Stephen Drew so perhaps he was hanging out with the wrong crowd when he got here.
New rule: don’t get batting tips from Stephen Drew.
But Didi was unaffected. Here are his comments at the time regarding the shower of boos he received in his early Yankees career:
“I’ve been hearing that a lot. I just laugh. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
Didi has quite literally outperformed Derek Jeter in almost every single way and the last piece of the legacy-defining puzzle is postseason success.
A grand slam might help that mission.
Gregorius has topped Jeter’s career-high 24 home run total twice in his career already and by basically every metric, Didi is a better defender than Jeter, who was handed Gold Gloves for essentially namesake alone.
Voters are lazy.
But I didn’t write this article to say that Didi Gregorius should be the captain of the Yankees because he’s a better player than the previous captain although, it’s true, he’s better than the previous captain.
I cannot stress enough how much better Gregorius is at baseball than Jeter and if you find that insulting because you think Jeter was so amazing at baseball then man, Didi might be the best shortstop in Yankees history.
His presence in the clubhouse and on the field feels different.
In a 2019 season when every player was on the IL except for Gleyber Torres and Masahiro Tanaka, you can see what the team looks like when certain players were missing and the team just didn’t feel complete until Didi returned from Tommy John surgery.
Last season, his post-game victory tweets were important content. Fans ran to their phone to see what emojis he’d use to congratulate his teammates.
His home run celebrations in the dugout drew the entire team’s attention more so than Luke Voit and Aaron Judge shattering each other’s forearms like two frat bros who just tossed a half-empty keg of the frat house roof.
I think it’s easy to say that Aaron Judge should be the next captain of the Yankees.
He’s in the most commercials. Major League Baseball clearly wants him to be a face for the league. Oh, and he hits baseballs into outer space.
It also needs to be pointed out that Aaron Judge will most likely spend his entire career in New York while Didi is in his final days under contract with absolutely no talks of a contract extension this season due to his busted elbow.
He’s also turning 30 sooner than later so one could question how many prime years he has remaining.
(Aaron Judge is also closer to 30 than he is to 25).
And Brian Cashman has not been shy about his desire to get Didi out of here as he flirted with Manny Machado last winter, he signed Troy Tulowitzki ready to proudly announce Troy the starting shortstop for as long as Troy wanted it and there have been rumors all season long that Cashman has been writing Francisco Lindor’s name all over his marble notebook with hearts and shit.
There’s something about Aaron Judge that is un-captain-like.
Perhaps it’s the petty playing of ‘New York, New York’ after beating the Red Sox at home. I have absolutely no problem with Judge being petty but he reminds me too much of myself and I shouldn’t be the captain of anything.
Didi Gregorius has an infectious smile.
He smiles like a kid trying to make his mom proud at elementary school picture day. Aaron Judge smiles like he’s either trying to sleep with your mom or already has.
If Didi continues to ball out in the playoffs then it’s impossible to not only give the man a new deal but to put the C on his chest.
His stats are right up there with the best shortstops in the sport.
From 2016-2018, he has a better WAR than Carlos Correa and a higher slugging percentage than Xander Bogaerts. He’s also (according to advanced stats) an astronomically better defender than those two.
And let’s not forget just how valuable his lefty bat is in a lineup full of hulking right-handers and in a stadium with a right field wall that’s 10 feet away from the batter’s box.
And allow me to be selfish for a moment, surprising I know, but having the most storied, successful and world famous sports franchise on planet Earth name a captain that looks like Didi Gregorius would be such a revolutionary game-changing decision.
Obviously race doesn’t matter and blah blah but man, remember when Babe Ruth was captain of the Yankees back when uh, black people weren’t allowed in the fucking league? And now Didi Gregorius becoming captain in 2020?
Long term storytelling >>>>
I might shed a tear.
Re-sign Didi Gregorius and make this man the damn captain already. No one deserves it more than he does.