Phillies: Gregorius, Wheeler bright spots in rough season
By Bryce Turner
Didi Gregorius and Zack Wheeler impressed in their first season with the Phillies
Right-handed starting pitcher Zack Wheeler and shortstop Didi Gregorius were “beacons of light” for the Philadelphia Phillies in an otherwise dull 2020 season.
It’s hard to find many good things to say about a team — with the likes of Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, J.T. Realmuto, and Aaron Nola — that missed an expanded postseason format by one game after losing seven of their last eight.
Last year, it was manager Gabe Kapler on the hot seat. This time around, it was General Manager Matt Klentak, who stepped down to take another role with the organization.
While it’s easy to blame Klentak for failing to acquire quality relievers, there’s no doubt that signing Wheeler and Gregorius last offseason was a beneficial move — which gives fans something to smile about when reflecting on the 2020 season.
Didi Gregorius was one of the most consistent Phillies hitters this season
Didi Gregorius signed a one-year, $14 million deal following an injury-shortened 2019 season with the New York Yankees, where he hit 16 home runs and 61 RBI in just 82 games, though his .238/.276/.441 slash line was nothing to call home about. He did have a .287 batting average in 2017, so he still showed an ability to hit well during his time with the Yankees.
Taking over the role of shortstop, with Jean Segura moving to third base to start the year, Gregorius gave the Phillies an opening day “thank-you.” His second regular-season at-bat with the team was a game-tying home run off of Miami Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara; he ended the night going 2-for-3 with a walk, though the team lost.
Gregorius started the season with a five-game hitting streak, batting .353 with two home runs, three RBIs, and two walks.
The left-handed hitter proved to be a consistent offensive force, recording at least one hit in 43 of 60 games. His longest streak of games without an RBI was four in late August and he had only five games where he struck out multiple times.
Gregorius was the only Phillie to appear in all 60 games this season, followed by Bryce Harper with 58. His 10 home runs were tied for third-best behind Harper and J.T. Realmuto, while he led the team with 40 RBI. His .284 batting average was second-best among qualified hitters to Alec Bohm’s .338.
With his strong 2020 performance, Gregorius surely earned his spot on the team. Gregorius may now join the likes of Marcus Semien and Andrelton Simmons as a free-agent shortstop, but he remains to be a good choice for the Phillies to re-sign. Gregorius proved to be a big part of the team’s offense this year and is a good fit in the infield to complement Bohm, Segura, and Rhys Hoskins.