New York Yankees Didi Gregorius Heating Up

Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius has been heating up at the plate, and this improvement has been desperately needed.

With all the talk of how Carlos Beltran has been the Yankees’ best hitter this year – and he has, there’s been a serious lack of attention paid to Didi Gregorius and his fantastic month of June. All Gregorius has done over the last 30 days is slash .330/.359/.518 with 4 HR & 19 RBI in 112 at-bats. The 26 year-old shortstop put together his best month at the plate since joining the Yankees in 2015.

There are a few obvious signs we can point to in order to help us figure out just why he’s experiencing his recent success. First, Gregorius has improved his HR/FB ratio, which stands at 10.1% this season, up from his 6.7% career mark. He’s also taking what the pitcher is giving him during at-bats instead of forcing the issue and pulling the ball as he’s done in the past. He’s delivered 27.7% of his batted balls to the opposite field this season, that’s a slight increase from the 26% he’s produced over his career. Furthermore, during the Month of June, 32% of his hits were to the left side, which represents his highest percentage of any month since joining the Yankees.

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He’s also demonstrated excellent plate discipline this season as his 11.3% strikeout rate would suggest. That’s the lowest K-rate of any of his four major league seasons. He’s also chasing less pitches away from the strike zone. Gregorius owns a 92.3% Z-Contact rate (Contact made inside the zone) which tells us he’s waiting for a particular pitch to offer at instead of chasing what the pitcher desires. More importantly, he’s trimmed his SwStr% (Swinging Strike Percentage) to 7.8%, which is comfortably below his career SwStr% mark of 10.0%.

Last, but certainly not least – Didi is hitting left-handed pitching better than he ever has during his career. In 70 at-bats against lefties this year, Gregorius has produced a .371 average and .863 OPS. He’s batting .265 with a .726 OPS against right-handers.  Clearly he has a pretty severe reverse split going on here.

Gregorius has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal Yankees’ lineup this year. If he can bump up his walk rate, which stands at a below average 3.5% that would do wonders in elevating his rather average .323 OBP. He’s maintained a stable .310 BABIP thus far, which tells us that there’s nothing fluky about his production to date. There’s obviously a lot to like here and hopefully for Yankees’ fans, the best is yet to come.

Around the AL East:

  • Through June 30th, David Price has allowed 57 earned runs. That’s three fewer than he allowed over the entire 2015 season. His 9.3 K/9 and 26.3 % strikeout rate both represent the second highest marks of his career.
  • David Ortiz’s 31 doubles are not only tops in all of baseball this season, they also represent the most ever for a player 40 or older before the All-Star break.
  • One pretty incredible stat that might have been buried in the epic 19 inning game between the Indians and Blue Jays Friday: The Cleveland pitching staff completely shut down the top 5 hitters in the Toronto lineup – they were 2-for-36 with 16 strikeouts. The Blue Jays also called on the services of three position players to each pitch an inning of relief Friday.
  • Over his past three starts, Chris Tillman has allowed 14 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings. His ERA for the month of June was a hefty 5.19, but he won three of his four decisions and the O’s were 5-1 in games he started. There’s something to be said about pitching behind baseball’s top offense.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays announced that Taylor Motter was optioned back to Triple-A Durham and Steven Souza will return to the club for Saturday’s game.
  • The Rays’ finished June with a record of 11-17. Their worst record in the month of June since 2007.
  • Catcher Gary Sanchez and Shortstop Jorge Mateo have been named to the Futures Game in San Diego. #Yankees
  • Nathan Eovaldi recorded an 8.65 ERA during the month of June. July didn’t start any better for the Yankees as he allowed 6 earned runs in 4 1/3 innings vs. the Padres

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  • Aaron Judge has been named the International League Player of the Month for June. He launched 9 home runs, scored 30 runs and reached base at a .477 clip while hitting .343 for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.