The start to Didi Gregorius' Yankee career was not a good one. Seemingly pressing at the plate and in the field, Gregorius came out of the gate 7-37 in his first 11 games with 0 extra-base hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts, and 2 GIDPs. He made multiple errors in the field and a few other plays that were close to being errors, and most troubling was the negative mental effect the early struggles seemed to have on him. Didi made multiple baserunning mistakes in the first few games, the types of mistakes typically associated with a player "not having his head in the game." As expected, the criticism and comparisons back to Jeter came calling from fans and writers alike. Fast forward over the next 11 games and things have looked quite different for Didi. He's 9-35 over that span with 2 XBH, 5 BB, and 5 K. While he hasn't been smacking the crap out of the ball by any means, he's looked much more comfortable and patient at the plate. His 7-pitch walk in the top of the 9th last night is a perfect circumstantial example. He fouled off a few tough pitches, laid off some close ones, and was willing to work the count and draw the walk instead of "trying to make something happen" or whatever.
He's also looked much smoother and sharper in the field, and it might not be a coincidence that we've seen Didi's defensive play improve after his on-field work with A-Rod earlier last week. Believe it or not, there was a time when that old fart was a pretty decent shortstop. I'd like to think there was a piece of advice or 2 that he could pass on to a young player in a tough position like Gregorius. If 9 clean plays of varying levels of difficulty, including 2 well-turned double plays and almost a third, last night have anything to say about it, I think they'd say A-Rod helped.
Or maybe he didn't. Who really knows. What's important is that Gregorius has looked like a different player over these last 11 games, a much calmer, smoother, and dare I say more confident player than he appeared to be in those first few weeks. It's only natural to at least be a little nervous following in the footsteps of a living sports legend, and Didi has handled the situation as well as he could. There's nothing about his overall batting line that stands out (.222/.288/.250) and his -0.4 fWAR is the lowest value on the team currently, but there have been signs that Didi has settled down and started to settle into his new role over these last 11 games. If he's gotten over the initial nerves of taking over as the starting shortstop for the Yankees, maybe now we can see how much of that potential they can unlock.