In the three years since new Miami Marlins owner Derek Jeter ended his 20 years as a Yankees shortstop with 3,465 hits and five World Series rings, successor Didi Gregorius has evolved into a bona fide star after underachieving as a young 20s Arizona Diamondbacks infielder.
Steinbrenner has been amazed seeing Gregorius get better and better to the point his 2017 numbers rivaled a lot of Jeter’s best seasons, offensively and defensively.
“I said this to somebody last week,” Steinbrenner said. “(A lot of people) focus on how (Gregorius) was a good replacement (for Jeter) and how well he’s done and all that.
“Imagine what he walked into. But this is a very special guy, very smart guy, very happy guy. I don’t want to speak for (Gregorius), but it just never seemed to bother him the way that it probably would have bothered me and 90 percent of other people out there walking into that situation.
“We knew in Arizona … (GM Brian Cashman) did a great job and his people (did a great trade recommending a trade). I remember them telling me they really think he’s underperforming out there, that he’s capable of more, and boy they were right.
“But nobody would have predicted how he’d handle New York., He’s coming from Arizona. But walking into that position and replacing an icon, my goodness, that was a variable.”