Every single time a pitcher throws a baseball to an opposing batter, the baseball can have a different speed, different spin, and a different location. So when a hitter is hot, it makes them look amazing at the game. At the same time, a slump can make a hitter look worse than they are. This is the exact predicament Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius finds himself in.
Currently, Gregorius is amidst a 2-for-48 slump. A funk that started on May 4 against the Cleveland Indians and has encompassed pretty much the entire month of May. The recession in and of itself hasn’t impacted the Yankees as a whole that much. They have a record of 10-3 since the fourth (and a tie with the Washington Nationals that will resume on June 18), and the other stars in the Yankees’ vaunted lineup have stepped up. The Yankees could even afford to bench Gregorius for final two games in Kansas City before Monday’s 10-5 victory over the Texas Rangers.
But last night, we finally saw a glimpse of the April AL Player of the Month. In the sixth inning, Gregorius hit an RBI double to give him his second hit in 48 at-bats. Gregorius was hitless in his other four at-bats.
The slump has genuinely impacted Gregorius’ season though. His batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage have gone from .319/.735/.424 to .247/.519/.332 in just 11 games. He was near the top of most of these categories in April; now he’s outside of the top ten. Before last night’s double, Gregorius’ last hit came in the form of a single on May 12th against the Oakland Athletics. Gregorius went 0-for-30 before the hit, a skid that was the longest drought of any Yankee since Russell Martin in 2012 of the same length. Honestly, if it weren’t for his ridiculously hot April, Yankees fans probably would have started booing Gregorius already, just like they did to Giancarlo Stanton at the start of the season. But yet again, much more is expected from Stanton who last year’s National League MVP.
Is this slump more of what we should be expecting from Gregorius? When I wrote an article about Gregorius’ torrid April that saw him lead the Majors in home runs (10), RBIs (30) and second in slugging percentage (.739), I stated that he is becoming more than Jeter’s replacement. I’m not taking the comment back. Gregorius has been so much more than what the Yankees thought he could become during his tenure in pinstripes, ut when the article was written on May 5th, Gregorius was on pace for a 42 home run and 127 RBI season. More rectnly, Gregorius’ numbers are slowly becoming closer to his career numbers of .265/18/72.
Look at it this way: Gregorius was the Yankees best player in April, something he shouldn’t have been with a team that consists of Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino and Aroldis Chapman. So a natural means of regression is commonplace.
Gregorius is still on pace for a career year, and hopefully the double last night marks the end of his skid. There shouldn’t be much pressure on Gregorius going forward. With the Yankees’ record of 31-13, it looks like he will have time to figure this slump out. When the former AL Player of the Month isn’t one of your top players, you can afford to have him go through a bad stretch. As soon as Gregorius figures out how to do “the most difficult thing in all of sport again,” some other Yankee will lose their ability to for a little while. That’s just how baseball works.