In 2020, Didi Gregorius signed a one-year, $14 million deal to be the Philadelphia Phillies shortstop. In nearly every facet, I have excelled.
The Dutchman slashed .284/.339/.488 with perfectly competent defense at shortstop. Without anyone signed on to play the position regularly in 2021, the Phillies brought him back on a two-year, $28 million deal to be the bridge until Bryson Stott was ready for the majors.
It should have been a solid signing. Gregorius had been one of baseball’s most consistent shortstops for the past five seasons, but if you look closer, the writing was on the wall from the beginning in 2020.
That year, Gregorius had his highest BABIP since 2017, but the lowest average exit velocity of his career. Though his DRS was just -2 in a 60 game sample size, his Statcast OAA was -8, and the previous year it had been -19 at shortstop.
Gregorius was trending downwards, but perhaps new President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski felt pressured to sign someone who had performed so well in the past as he took the reins of the club.
Disastrous results ensued in 2021 and have continued to 2022. In 2021, Gregorius was one of baseball’s worst defensive shortstops while posting an OPS+ of 71. His exit velocity increased by two mph, but his BABIP dropped to a career low .217.
As of April 2022, Gregorius’ exit velocity has plummeted once again, this time to 81.4 mph, in the fourth percentile league-wide. According to both OAA and DRS, he’s one of the league’s worst defensive shortstops.
Scroll to Continue
Though his OBP is a solid .342, it’s inflated by two HBPs—an unrepeatable skill unless you’re Chase Utley or Craig Biggio—and his walk-rate is an infinitesimal 2.6%.
The Phillies have four players who can play the left side of the infield, and none of them can be counted on to display offensive and defensive consistency: Bryson Stott, Didi Gregroius, Alec Bohm, and Johan Camargo.
So far, only Bohm and Camargo have been positive offensive players, but Bohm is one of MLB’s worst defenders and Camargo is a good role player, but he’s better suited to a bench role as he can’t be counted on to continue his current level of offensive production.
Camargo is slashing .382/.417/.529 after a four-hit day in Colorado, but his BABIP is .414, though he does have a career-high exit velocity of 89.8.
Nevertheless, the Phillies need one of Gregorius or Stott to step up and fill a void at shortstop. It’s unlikely Stott can be relied upon this year, as he seems overmatched by Major League pitching as evidenced by his league-low 82.2 mph average exit velocity and his current 0-for-17 streak.
Gregorius, however, needs to produce. His $14 million salary from him handicapped the Phillies this offseason in bolstering other areas of the team. Of course, his contract with him is dead weight now, but he’s the sort of player who could take the Phillies from a good team to a great team, or even a decent team to a good team.
If Joe Girardi continues to bat him in the 6th and 7th spot in the lineup, his high launch angle/low exit velocity style of hitting is going to continue killing rallies moving forward.
More From SI’s Inside The Phillies:
- How Mike Trout Will Join the Phillies
- Phillies Top-10 Prospects Heading Into the 2022 MLB Season
- 18-Year-Old Phillies Prospect is Making History
- How did Philadelphia end up with Citizens Bank Park?
- How the Phillie Phanatic Came to be America’s Favorite Sports Mascot
- This Unlikely Draft Pick Could be the Final Piece in the Phillies Next Blockbuster Trade
- “The Family Was More Nervous Than Him,” Stott’s Relatives on Debut
- Picking the Phillies’ All-Time Single Season Lineup
- Why Did the Phillies Forget About These Top Prospects?
- Castellanos Shows He’s Ready to Play in Philadelphia