Guest Post: A Positive (But Plausible!) Career Path for Didi Gregorius

The following is a guest post from Carlo Macomber, who goes by CoryWadeDavis in the comments. Carlo is a freshman at Colby College in Waterville, ME. He’s previous written a guest post about Masahiro Tanaka.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Baseball executives, analysts, and fans alike have always attempted to make comparisons between young, up-and-coming players and current or former MLB players. In recent years, as more and more information has become available on amateur players, these comps have started earlier than ever. If you watch the MLB First-Year Player Draft on MLB Network, you’ll hear the analysts comparing college and even high school players to established MLB regulars. Almost all of the time, this is completely unfair. Many of the early draft picks get completely unrealistic comps to perennial All-Star or even Hall of Fame caliber players. As a result, I usually end up feeling really bad for the mid first round pick that for some reason only draws a Larry Bigbie or Tony Graffanino comp (or someone along those lines).

Some comps are just plain lazy. Carlos Martinez has been compared to Pedro Martinez because they’re both small RHPs from the Dominican Republic with the last name Martinez. Similarly, #1 Yankees prospect Aaron Judge has drawn lazy comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton. These are based completely on size and position. Stanton had hit 117 MLB home runs through his age 23 season, while Judge is about to open his age 24 season in AAA. There is really no comparison here, especially not one fair to Judge.

Anyway, all of this leads me to the main point here: a fair and plausible comp for Didi Gregorius. After his early season struggles in 2015, Gregorius put together a solid 3.1 fWAR season. While the vast majority of Yankees fans were more than content with Didi’s first season in the Bronx, we all hope to get even more production out of him in the future, especially offensively.

As a result, Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford is a player with a career path that Gregorius could (and should) look to follow. Before this year, Crawford was known as a solid defensive shortstop with a below average overall bat but a slightly above average one for the position. This is similar to how Gregorius is viewed now. In 2015, Crawford broke out offensively. He hit .256/.321/.462/.783 (117 wRC+) with 21 home runs. All of those numbers are by far career bests. Crawford’s breakout offensive campaign coupled with what has become excellent defense led to him producing a 4.7 fWAR season.

The comparison of Crawford and Gregorius is not directly related to Crawford’s 2015 season, however. It starts by comparing Didi’s 2015 season (age 25) and Crawford’s 2013 season (age 26). Here is some key offensive data:

Player Year PA AVG OBP SLG HR wOBA wRC+ fWAR
Crawford 2013 550 .248 .311 .363 9 .296 93 2.3
Gregorius 2015 578 .265 .318 .370 9 .303 89 3.1

Looks pretty similar, doesn’t it? Gregorius was ever so slightly better in 2015 by wOBA but 2013 Crawford looked better by wRC+. Gregorius had a better batting average — both players had similar and close to league average BABIPs in the respective seasons, by the way – and Crawford showed slightly better power potential (.114 ISO to .105). Overall, though, the offensive numbers are very similar.

The difference in WAR, as you could assume, is actually a result of defense. In 2013, Crawford posted +2 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and had a +4.2 Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games played (UZR/150). He had yet to emerge as a truly excellent defender. On the other hand, 2015 Gregorius posted +5 DRS and +7.9 UZR/150. Gregorius proved last year that he is capable of putting together a 3 WAR season mostly because of his defense. If he wants to take the next step like Crawford and become a 4.5-5 win player, he should look to make similar offensive improvements, while always trying to incrementally improve his defense.

So, what noticeable offensive differences are there between 2013 and 2015 Brandon Crawford? There are some important changes in batted ball data:

Year Pull% Cent% Oppo% Soft% Med% Hard% HR/FB
2013 35.9% 38.8% 25.3% 17.9% 57% 25.1% 7.0%
2015 39.8% 37.5% 22.7% 15.6% 51.5% 32.9% 16.2%

It’s easy to look at the table above and notice that Crawford’s hard contact percentage jumped almost 8% during the two-year period, and that this obviously led to his breakout offensive season. However, it also appears that Crawford tried to pull the ball more last season than in the past. Pulling the ball has gotten a bad reputation in recent years because of defensive shifts, but just about all players hit the ball harder to their pull side. Crawford took advantage of this fact by pulling the ball nearly 4% more often last year and hitting to the opposite field 2.6% less often. Because Crawford was able to pull the ball with authority more often, his HR/FB spiked up in 2015. His 21 home runs last season were more than double his previous career high (10).

While Crawford provides an example of one way a previously below-average hitter can break out offensively, his offensive trends don’t mean that Didi should try to copy him completely. Gregorius doesn’t strike me as someone who will hit 20 home runs in a season. Maybe he develops into a 15 homers per season guy, but I don’t see him as having quite the same power potential as Crawford. Hopefully now that I said that he proves me wrong. Anyway, Didi’s 2015 batted ball data does show that he could work on improving his ability to pull the ball with authority.

Year PA GB% FB% Pull% Cent% Oppo% Soft% Med% Hard%
2014 299 37.4% 42.9% 32.9% 42.8% 24.3% 17.6% 54.5% 27.9%
2015 578 44.7% 34.1% 38.5% 35.0% 26.5% 21.6% 55.9% 22.5 %

The first thing to note here is Gregorius only had about half a season’s worth of PA in 2014 with the Diamondbacks. 299 PA isn’t nothing, though. The numbers show that Didi did start to pull the ball considerably more often last year. Crawford noticed significant offensive gains when he pulled the ball more often, and that hasn’t really happened yet for Didi. However, when Gregorius started to pull the ball more often, he actually made hard contact 5.4% less often, and soft contact 4% more often. The problem here appears to be his spike in GB% and drop in FB%. Didi moved to Yankee Stadium last year, and, as a left-handed hitter, he naturally started to pull the ball more to take advantage of the famous short porch in right field. Unfortunately, Gregorius hit considerably more grounders and considerably fewer fly balls, which completely ruins the point of pulling the ball at Yankee Stadium.

This strikes me as a pitch selection issue. Didi has the right idea of trying to pull the ball more often (like Crawford), but he has to try to pull the right pitches. Trying to pull outside pitches will cause weak ground balls to first and second base, something Didi did too often last year (and that’s backed up by the data!). In order to follow Crawford’s career path “model,” Gregorius should look to follow a teammate’s lead. Brett Gardner has improved his ability to pull the ball with authority (and subsequently raise his power numbers) by jumping on middle and inside fastballs. While it is always important to be patient, Didi should try and get the bat head out to the ball quickly on any middle-in fastballs. In order to do this, Didi will have to improve his overall pitch recognition, which, as a 26-year-old entering just his second full season, he still has time to do. If Gregorius can improve his pitch recognition and pull the ball with authority more often, the Yankees could have an elite two-way shortstop entering his prime years. The Giants are in a similar situation with Crawford, and there’s reason to believe Sir Didi could follow suit!

An Even Distribution

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

About a month ago, I wrote about some way too early lineup musings and as the report date for pitchers and catchers approaches, I’ve been thinking about the Yankees’ lineup again. This time, though, the thoughts aren’t about the hitters and their positions in the lineup, but rather their positions on the field.

Going back generations, the Yankees’ offense has always been buoyed by strong up-the-middle hitters, especially center fielders and catchers. Most organizations would be lucky enough to have had one or two players of the caliber the Yankees have trotted out across their history: Bill Dickey; Yogi Berra; Elston Howard; Thurman Munson; Jorge Posada; Earle Combs; Joe DiMaggio; Mickey Mantle; Bernie Williams. The four “worst” players in that collection are borderline Hall of Famers. Throw 20 years of Derek Jeter into the mix–as well as players like Willie Randolph and Robinson Cano at the keystone–and it’s easy to see why the Yankees have earned their “Bronx Bombers” moniker and have had so much offensive success. Of course, this isn’t to discount what the prolific hitters the Yankees have at the corners have done. From Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, the Yankees have had legendary and elite players fill left, right, first, and third. Coming into the 2016 season, the Yankees are set up to have some balance in their lineup, with no position/position grouping dominating the lineup.

Taking a rather general and broad view–the forest, not the trees–let’s look at the position groups of the Yankees’ likely starters and see what we can find. For organizational purposes, I’m placing A-Rod in the “corner” category, since DH is more like a corner position anyway.

On the corners, we have the aforementioned Tex and A-Rod, as well as Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, and Carlos Beltran. Four of these players are going to be a key part of the offense, as, together, they’ll occupy some combination of spots one/two and some combination of spots three-five or six. The other is Headley, who’ll be a bottom of the order guy regardless. On the negative side of things, Tex, Rodriguez, and Beltran are all old and could break down at any time in the season. Headley is coming off a career worst year. Gardner had an abysmal second half. On the positive side of things, Tex, Al, and Carlos are all capable of great power that can help carry the team. Almost anything Headley does will be an improvement. Gardner tends to have good first halves and will (hopefully) be healthy again.

 (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Up the middle, returning players Brian McCann, Didi Gregorius, and Jacoby Ellsbury are joined by newcomer Starlin Castro. Castro and Ellsbury, like Headley, are coming off of forgettable years. Brian McCann isn’t getting any younger and Didi’s offensive ceiling probably isn’t much higher than his production was last year. On the plus side, Castro and Ellsbury, like Headley, likely can’t be any worse than they were last year and there is tons of room for improvement for both of them, especially for Castro if he doesn’t have to be a mainstay of the offense. Despite aging, McCann was solid last year and is likely to provide similar power. If things go the way they should–hell, even if they mirror last year–Didi doesn’t need to be much more than he is on offense, especially given his glove.

The 2016 Yankee offense is essentially the opposite of its pitching staff, the latter dominated by one position grouping: relievers. While the Yankee rotation mirrors the lineup with a healthy blend of risk and reward, the bullpen is clearly where the reliability and elite performance lie. At the plate, the Yankees are in a position of balance, with no group the clear focus or the clear carrier. Despite some risks, the hitters are set to compliment each other, with those recovering offsetting those who may be declining. This team may not have any hitters of the same caliber as the ones listed before–even if A-Rod and Tex are still around, they’re not necessarily what they used to be–but it can still be successful.

Yankees, Gregorius avoid arbitration with $2.425M deal

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

Tuesday: The Yankees have officially announced the deal. It’s a non-guaranteed contract, which is standard for players during their years of team control. That just means they won’t have to pay him his full salary if they release him in Spring Training, but that ain’t happening.

Monday: The Yankees and Didi Gregorius have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $2.425M, reports Jack Curry. Last Friday was the deadline for teams and eligible players to file salary figures. Didi filed for $2.525M while the team countered with $2.3M, so they settled a bit above the midpoint.

Gregorius, 25, hit .265/.318/.370 (89 wRC+) with nine home runs last season, his first with the Yankees. He started the season really poorly — those first few weeks were kinda ugly — but settled down and played very well from May through the end of the season. His defense led to +3.1 fWAR and +3.3 bWAR. Gregorius was arbitration-eligible for the first of four times as a Super Two. He can’t become a free agent until after 2019.

The Yankees still have three unsigned arbitration-eligible players: Aroldis Chapman ($13.1M vs. $9M), Nathan Eovaldi ($6.3M vs. $4.9M), and Ivan Nova ($4.6M vs $3.8). Arbitration hearings will take place throughout February, though the two sides are free to discuss a contract of any size in the meantime.

Way Too Early Lineup Musings

2015 Wild Card Game Lineups

Spring Training may still be about a month away and, despite their relative quietness this Hot Stove season, the Yankees may not be done adding to or tinkering with their team. However, it’s never too early to start dreaming on the lineups we’ll see throughout the year, even with the general knowledge that lineup construction doesn’t always have a big effect on the macro level.

Over the last few seasons, the Yankees have a had a good deal of year-to-year lineup turnover due to players leaving the team or leaving the game altogether–or returning to it in Alex Rodriguez‘s case. Before this three year stretch of 2013-2015, we’d usually see the Yankees cycle out a DH or a random position here or there, but things were generally consistent and well-balanced. That hasn’t been the case for the last few years, though we could see a return to that in 2016.

The return of Mark Teixeria will help restore some needed right-handed power to the lineup, and Aaron Hicks will look to replicate what Chris Young did. Hicks also joins two other switch hitters, Carlos Beltran and Chase Headley. Starlin Castro gives the Yankees a dedicated righty hitter in their infield who can hopefully fit into the lineup in a variety of ways.

There is no shortage of ways the Yankees could deploy their hitters against right handed pitchers. Joe Girardi could stack lefty/switch hitters in the first four spots of the lineup and not give the other team a platoon advantage until fifth, or even sixth if he really wanted to:

1. Brett Gardner
2. Jacoby Ellsbury
3. Carlos Beltran
4. Mark Teixeira
5. Brian McCann
6. Alex Rodriguez
7. Chase Headley
8. Didi Gregorius
9. Starlin Castro

You could flip Didi and Castro if you’d like, but I imagine Girardi would want to break up the lefties at the turn of the lineup. Of course, swapping Ellsbury and Gardner is possible as well. Given Gardner’s slight power advantage over Ellsbury, that might make some sense, provided Ellsbury returns to his non-2015 form. The 3-4-5-6 spots are also fairly interchangeable; at their best, any of those players can carry a team offensively and having them anchor the lineup, even at their advanced age, is an okay thing.

Against lefties, there’s an opportunity for Girardi to really shake things up and get pretty frisky. It all hinges on just how much he plans on platooning Gardner/Ellsbury/Hicks. It’s very likely that Aaron Hicks winds up playing in a ton of games–like Chris Young did this year–just as a defensive replacement for Carlos Beltran late in games. But he’s also here to hit lefties, something Ellsbury struggled with in 2015, leading to a benching in the Wild Card game. If we assume Ellsbury sits a fair amount against lefties, we could see something like this:

1. Gardner
2. Hicks
3. Beltran
4. Teixeira
5. Rodriguez
6. McCann
7. Castro
8. Headley
9. Gregorius

If it’s Gardner who ends up sitting against lefties, it’s likely that Ellsbury would still hit at the top of the lineup. After all, he’s got the name and he’s got the big contract. But, in a more “just” world, perhaps this lineup could be trotted out:

1. Castro
2. Hicks
3. Beltran
4. Tex
5. A-Rod
6. McCann
7. Ellsbury
8. Headley
9. Gregorius

Regardless of who sits and who doesn’t, the Yankees will likely feature a more balanced attack against lefties than they did in the second half and the Wild Card game last year. Their inability to hit lefties consistently certainly cost them and the front office seems to have recognized that with the acquisitions of Hicks and Castro. There are a ton of other permutations for each lineup, but I’m choosing to stay positive and assume some health for the Yankees (trust me, I know this could all fall apart very, very quickly).  What lineup combinations do you favor? Which ones did I forget? What are you dying to see, even if you know it’s probably a bit unrealistic? Even if we know they don’t make much of a difference, it’s still fun to play manager and adjust a lineup to our own liking. And at this time of year, when we’re all optimists, it’s easy to dream.

Yankees sign Pineda and Ackley; file arbitration figures with Chapman, Eovaldi, Gregorius, Nova

Didi is arbitration-eligible for the first time. (Patrick Smith/Getty)
Didi is arbitration-eligible for the first time. (Patrick Smith/Getty)

Original Post (12:00pm ET): Today is an important day on the offseason calendar. The deadline for teams and their arbitration-eligible players to file salary figures for the 2016 season is 1pm ET, which is a bit earlier than previous years, I believe. A total of 156 players are eligible for arbitration this winter, though many have agreed to a new contracts already.

The Yankees have six players up for arbitration this offseason, including some pretty important members of the team. Here are the six with their projected 2016 salaries, via MLBTR:

Dustin Ackley: $3.1M (second time through arbitration)
Aroldis Chapman: $12.9M (third)
Nathan Eovaldi: $5.7M (second)
Didi Gregorius: $2.1M (first of four as a Super Two)
Ivan Nova: $4.4M (third)
Michael Pineda: $4.6M (second)

The Yankees have not been to an arbitration hearing since beating Chien-Ming Wang during the 2007-08 offseason. Since then they’ve signed all of their eligible players prior to the filing deadline. I assume that will be the case again this year, though who knows. We’ll find out soon enough.

The two sides can still negotiate a contract of any size even after filing salary figures. They can hammer out a new deal at any point, even after a hearing if they choose. Hearings will take place throughout February and arbitration is an ugly process. The team details the player’s shortcomings in an effort to keep his salary down. Not pleasant for anyone involved. It’s no mystery why everyone involved tries to avoid a hearing.

We’ll keep track of the day’s Yankees-related arbitration news right here, assuming nothing crazy happens. Someone could sign a multi-year extension but history suggests the Yankees won’t do that. Check back for updates throughout the day. The deadline is 1pm ET, but news can and probably will trickle in throughout the afternoon.

Update (3:00pm ET): Yankees sign Pineda for $4.3M (Jeff Passan)

Pineda gets a nice $2.2M raise after pitching to a 4.37 ERA (3.34 FIP) last season. Yeah, he missed all that time following shoulder surgery from 2012-13, but he was an All-Star back in 2011 and that matters in arbitration. That said, a $4.3M salary for a starter going through arbitration for the second time is relatively small. All the lost time definitely cost Pineda some cash. He can’t become a free agent until after 2017.

Update (3:26pm ET): Yankees sign Ackley for $3.2M (Chad Jennings)

Ackley made $2.6M last season, so his raise wasn’t very big. He is in a bit of an interesting situation because the Mariners signed him to a five-year contract worth $7.5M out of the draft a few years back. Ackley earned $1.5M, $1.5M, and $1.7M in his three pre-arbitration years, not the league minimum, so his starting base salary in arbitration was higher than usual. He’s making more than he should be given his production. But still, $3.2M is peanuts in today’s MLB. Ackley is two years from free agency.

Update (3:28pm ET): Yankees will file with Chapman, Eovaldi, Gregorius, Nova (Jon Heyman)

In a bit of a surprise, the Yankees were unable to reach contract agreements with those four players prior to today’s filing deadline. No word on their filing figures yet, though those should come out soon enough. The two sides can still negotiate a contract of any size, remember. Today was not a hard deadline for completing a deal.

Update (4:58pm ET): Chapman filed for $13.1M, Yankees for $9M (Jon Heyman)

First thought: Chapman should probably take the Yankees to a hearing. He made $8.05M last season. Would the arbitration panel really side with the Yankees and award him a raise of less than $1M after he saved 33 games with a 1.63 ERA (1.94 FIP) and 116 strikeouts in 66.1 innings in 2015? Seems really unlikely. The other third year arbitration-eligible closers (Kenley Jansen, Drew Storen, Mark Melancon) all received raises of at least $2.5M on Friday. I guess the Yankees think Chapman’s earning potential will be dragged down by the domestic violence incident.

Update (5:01pm ET): Gregorius filed for $2.525M, Yankees for $2.3M (Jon Heyman)

A gap of $225,000 is nothing. I imagine the Yankees and Gregorius will be able to hammer out a deal soon enough, perhaps somewhere around the midpoint of the two filing figures ($2.42M). Then again, the Yankees could take the “file-and-trial” stance that is becoming popular. That is, once the salary figures are filed, the team stops negotiating and goes to a hearing. Hopefully that’s not the case.

Keep in mind with Gregorius, his 2016 salary will affect his 2017-19 salaries as well. There’s a carryover effect from year-to-year. It’s not so much about saving $225,000 next year. That $225,000 can potentially grow into a few million bucks during Didi’s four arbitration years.

Update (5:19pm ET): Eovaldi filed for $6.3M, Yankees for $4.9M (Jon Heyman)

The midpoint of the two filing figures is $5.6M, just south of MLBTR’s projection. Remember, the arbitration process is very antiquated. If they do go to a hearing, Eovaldi’s representatives will surely emphasize his 14-3 record in 2015, and the fact he led the league in winning percentage (.824). The system rewards wins and winning percentage, the stuff we know doesn’t tell us a whole lot about the pitcher’s performance.

Update (6:58pm ET): Nova filed for $4.6M, Yankees for $3.8M (Jeff Passan)

Nova, who made $3.3M last summer, filed a salary number just north of MLBTR’s projection. The Yankees are a little under that, and really, an $800,000 gap is not huge. The team seems to offering a token “you picked up another year of service time, congrats” raise after Nova’s poor 2015 season. Even considering MLBTR’s projection, I can understand why the Yankees filed at $3.8M.

Chapman, five other Yankees file for salary arbitration

(Andy Lyons/Getty)
(Andy Lyons/Getty)

Prior to yesterday’s deadline, the six eligible Yankees filed for salary arbitration. The six: Dustin Ackley, Aroldis Chapman, Nathan Eovaldi, Didi Gregorius, Ivan Nova, and Michael Pineda. A total of 156 players around the league filed for arbitration. Here’s the full list.

Filing for arbitration is nothing more than a formality, and I’m not even sure why the league requires players to do it anymore. Players no longer have to file for free agency. They just became free agents. At some point, maybe in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, players will just go to arbitration and not have to file. Whatevs.

The deadline for teams and eligible players to file salary arbitration figures is this Friday. I’m not sure what time exactly, but it’s usually in the late afternoon, at the end of the business day. The two sides can still negotiate a contract of any size after filing salary figures. Here are the 2016 salary projections from MLBTR:

Ackley: $3.1M (second time through arbitration)
Chapman: $12.9M (third)
Eovaldi: $5.7M (second)
Gregorius: $2.1M (first)
Nova: $4.4M (third)
Pineda: $4.6M (second)

The Yankees haven’t been to an arbitration hearing since beating Chien-Ming Wang back in 2008. Since then they’ve managed to sign all of their arbitration-eligible players prior to the filing deadline. There’s no reason to think that’ll change this year. Chances are those six will have new contracts by Friday.

Eovaldi and Pineda stand out as extension candidates given the team’s lack of controllable pitching beyond 2017, but there are reasons to pass too, namely the arm injuries they suffered in the second half last year. Gregorius is also an extension candidate, though he’s under team control through 2019 anyway, so no rush.

According to Cot’s, the Yankees currently have $190.6M in guaranteed contracts on the books for 2016. That covers only eleven players. The six arbitration-eligible players will bump that up to $223.4M for 17 players. Then the Yankees have to pay all the pre-arbitration guys (Dellin Betances, Luis Severino, etc.) plus the rest of the 40-man roster.

Add on the $12M or so each team has to pay towards player benefits and the Yankees are looking at an Opening Day payroll in the $240M range for luxury tax purposes. The team closed out last season with a $241.15M payroll.

Room for Improvement: Didi Gregorius

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

By any and all accounts, Didi Gregorius had a career year in 2015. After being traded to the Yankees in the winter, he notched career highs across the board, most importantly in playing time. A slick fielder with a rocket arm, he overcame some early fielding hiccups and (let’s be nice and call it) aggressive baserunning and was as successful as one could be in replacing a legend at one of the three most important positions on the field. Were he to repeat last year going forward, there wouldn’t be much to complain about. He’s a good fielder at shortstop and he doesn’t embarrass himself with his bat; in today’s MLB, that’s as good as gold. Of course, the goal of a younger player is to improve each year and there’s one spot that Didi could stand to improve, and that’s his walk rate.

As a lower order hitter, it’s not imperative that Didi act like a table-setter or a take-and-rake slugger. He makes good contact and can move around the guys on base in front of him because of that. As Didi’s never likely to be a big power guy–his ISO has actually dropped in each year as he’s gotten more playing time–it’d be good for him to augment his  offensive game with a little bit more patience at the plate.

To be fair to Didi, his walk rate wasn’t awful last year at 5.7%. Still, it was a drop from 2014 (7.4) and two points below the league average of 7.7%. His career rate is a more palatable 7.1%, but that’s buoyed by 2014 and 2013 (9.2%) and, as we can see, his rate has dropped each year as he’s gotten more time at the plate. So, what can he do to increase his walk rate?

Like anyone looking to increase his or her walks, the first thing he could do is limit his pitch-chasing. In 2015, his out-of-zone swing percentage, per FanGraphs, was 33.8%, about 3% higher than league average (30.9%). Still, this is painting with a broad brush and Didi’s chase-rate isn’t so much higher than league average that we should be panicking that he’s turning into ’03 playoffs Alfonso Soriano or anything. In fact, at 62%, Didi was just about average (62.9%) at making contact with pitches out of the zone. That’s a double-edged sword, of course, as that could lead to weak contact on bad pitches.

(BrooksBaseball.Net)
(BrooksBaseball.Net)

If we note the table above, which shows Didi’s whiff/swing% on various pitch locations, the lower part of the image stands out. On pitches just outside the zone, low and either inside or out, Didi is whiffing quite a bit when he takes a cut. To start improving his walk rate, that’s where Didi can start: by avoiding those tempting pitches below the knees.

Didi Gregorius is never going to be an elite hitter, and he doesn’t need to be, given his position and his defense at that position. Still, any improvement helps and since it’s unlikely that he starts popping homers over the short fence any time soon, Didi should focus on improving his discipline to round out his offensive game a little bit. He’s already given Yankee fans plenty to be happy about, so hopefully more is on the horizon.