Behind the Numbers: Didi Gregorius
We’ve all taken note of what Didi Gregorius has been doing this season. The Yankees shortstop has found himself as the headline in many of the clubs wins. With such a powerful lineup surrounding him, it was fair to assume that the Amsterdam native wouldn’t be the one turning heads with power numbers. Not only is he leading a lineup that features Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez, he is leading all of Major League baseball in power metrics.
All nine of Gregorius’ homers have come at Yankee Stadium. No surprise there, much has been made of the way hitters can feast on that ballpark. But Didi is also leading the majors in ISO, by a lot. With an ISO of .462, he is 42 points better than Javier Baez who finds himself second on that list at .420.
In a day in age where so many players are sacrificing contact for power, we aren’t taken back by high strikeout rates as much as we used to be. So if Gregorius has all of this new found power with the high homer totals and gaudy ISO, he has to be striking out a ton, right? Not exactly. Didi has struck out at just a 9% rate. You have to go all of the way down to number 18 on the ISO leader boards and Jose Ramirez before you find another player with strikeout rate under 10%.
Statcast tells a very different story than what the surface numbers tell us. I was shocked when I was looking through leader boards and saw what Gregorius’ exit velocities were. His average exit velo is 87 mph, not exactly a number you tweet out after a batted ball. That puts him at 221st in the entire league. 221st! That is with a minimum of 25 batted ball events.
Only time will tell if Didi’s power numbers are legitimate. Right now on the surface he looks like an early MVP candidate, but if the batted ball data tells us anything, it is that he has been benefiting from a little bit of luck, and a whole lot of ballpark. Regardless, this is the best lineup in baseball from a spectator’s perspective and Didi has been an unexpected pleasant surprise.