Monday, June 1, 2015

Most Popular Article of the Week: From Derek To Didi

From Bryan Van Dusen:

Like this, only somehow with better writing, acting, and... well... just better.

I'm going to start off by showing you some of the achievements, or lack thereof, of two players.

Player A
-1996 American League Rookie of the Year
-14 time AL All Star
-3 time finisher in top 3 of AL MVP voting
-5 time Silver Slugger Award winner
-5 World Series Championships
-7 AL Pennants
-5 AL Gold Glove Awards
-2000 World Series MVP
-All Time Yankees Leader in Hits
-All Time Yankees Leader in Doubles
-All Time Yankees Leader in Stolen Bases

Player B
-Did not win Rookie of the Year
-No All Star selections
-No MVP votes
-No Gold Glove Awards
-Let's just say he has no awards of significance
-.243/.313/.366 before being traded to New York

I probably don't have to tell you who those players are, but just in case...

Player A is Derek Jeter, and Player B is Didi Gregorius.

Furthermore, I probably don't have to point out that Derek Jeter was not just some "role" player with the Yankees, but was arguably the best player to wear Yankees pinstripes since Mickey Mantle. Actually, Mickey is among just four players in the history of the franchise to amass a higher bWAR than Jeter.

Let the arguments continue.

So to say Didi Gregorius is under pressure as The Captain's heir at shortstop is perhaps the understatement of the century. How can a 25 year-old succeed in such an environment? Heck, when I was that age I was under no pressure, and to call me a "success" would have been laughable. Just saying I was doing "okay" in life at that age is a whopper. But here we are watching this kid trying to follow in the footsteps of one of the greatest Yankees of all time, and do so in an era where criticism is thrown at him from every possible angle.

Back in 1996, when Tino Martinez was playing first base after beloved Yankee Don Mattingly retired, he didn't have to deal with the internet and everything that comes with it (blogs, comment boards, Twitter, etc). Tino had to answer questions from a handful of beat writers for the local newspapers, and perhaps some national reporters too.

On that note, I don't think it would be a bad idea for Didi to shut down his Twitter account. Take a step back from all the craziness that goes on there. Sure, you could say he could ignore the idiots that run amok there, but you know as well as I that that's an impossible task. We have a little over 3,000 followers on Twitter, and I see some silly stuff every time I log on there. Didi, on the other hand, has over 26,000 followers. I'm sure he sees a lot more stupid stuff than I do.

Although, I do drive around Columbus every day, where stupidity runs rampant.

Gregorius will most likely never be a great hitter. His triple slash in AAA was .287/.350/.452, and it's very rare that a player exceeds or even meets those numbers in MLB. If Didi ever comes close to those numbers we should count ourselves lucky.

One thing we can all expect out of Didi is to be a great defender. While he's had plenty of brain farts in the field this season, we've also seen glimpses of greatness. He has a fantastic arm to go along with excellent range... two things that you can't teach a player. He can be coached on how to slow things down, and not try to do too much (see the flip play he tried to make in the 8th inning of yesterday's game). In fact, by this time next year, I'm willing to bet we will watch balls hit his way and assume he's going to complete the play flawlessly. And every once in a while we'll think "no way he's got that one", only to watch him pull off a Web Gem.

We all succumb to emotional knee-jerk reactions. When Didi strikes out in a big situation we're going to get mad. When he boots a ball that should have been routine, we're going to want to punch something or somebody (namely him). But I'm begging all Yankees fans to stop themselves from calling for Didi's head when he messes up, because... again... he's a 25 year-old kid following in the footsteps of one of the greatest Yankees of all time.

Now, if nothing's improved by the end of the season, then I may write something completely different about him here. But for right now, just 41 games into his career as a Yankee, I'm cutting him some slack.

If you still can't let your anger go, then here's a picture that should brighten your day.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)