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2021 report card: Didi Gregorius

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How can a signing go so bad so quickly?

Pittsburgh Pirates v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Contracts go bad. It happens all the time. Rarely, though, do we see contracts go so bad that an entire fanbase wishes the player would go away. Had Didi Gregorius just been bad last year, people could have just claimed it was injury related and hoped for a bounceback year the following season.

Then Gregorius talked about why he might have gotten injured...

2021 stats

.209/.270/.370, 13 HR, 54 RBI, 67:25 K:BB, 68 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR

The good

Nothing really. A lackluster start to the season let to an unfortunate injury and everything kind of went downhill from there.

The bad

Gregorius went on the injured list on May 13 with a bone bruise to his elbow, suffered when he fell on it trying to make a play in the field. At the time, he was hitting .229/.266/.364, not good but still lots of time to make up for it and have a productive season. Then a setback happened, the first one reported on June 13. Fair enough, setbacks happen all the time. When on rehab and with Gregorius on the verge of rejoining the team, they talked about his defense and how it would have to be managed.

“When Didi comes back, he’s our shortstop,” manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday. “And I thought Didi’s defense improved a lot once we got by those first three weeks. Didi’s our shortstop...I will use [Ronald] Torreyes. We’ll have to manage Didi when he comes back. It’s not like I’m going to run him out there seven days in a row. And I’m going to have to manage (Jean Segura’s) playing time too, coming off of a leg injury.”

Later on, when Gregorius had been back for a month, but still wasn’t hitting, he talked about the medication he was taking for pseudogout, an arthritic issue in his right elbow.

“Some days, I will feel like I don’t have anything because of the pills and everything that I’m taking for this,” Gregorius said. “And one of the big side effects is also muscle weakness, so you’ve got to work through all that, too. It is what it is. I’m not making any excuses, but that’s the boat I’m in right now.”

Listen, it’s happened to all of us. Getting used to a new medication takes time and adjustment. If that was truly the issue, it’s something to feel badly for him. You could see it in his numbers, hitting only .189/.260/.389 with only nine extra base hits in 100 plate appearances from when he returned from the IL to when he was quoted. The team had already noticed it, but still left him out in the field, unwilling to substitute someone else (Nick Maton? Ronald Torreyes?) to perhaps give the team more production. So, some of the blame needs to fall on the team.

Then we got down to the root of why Gregorius believed his elbow was causing him issues.

“Some people say it’s from the vaccine. I will say it’s likely from that, too,” Gregorius told The Inquirer before Wednesday’s game. “But when you say that, everyone looks at you like you’re stupid because the vaccine is not supposed to be like that or give you that reaction.”

Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooookay.

Falling on your elbow and developing a super rare form of gout is something that would happen only to the Phillies. It feels like these types of maladies happen to the team often. But to blame the condition and subsequent poor production on the Covid-19 vaccine is not only wrong and stupid, it’s borderline dangerous. Getting it into the mind of even one person that the vaccine has the ability to cause his issues is irresponsible of Gregorius. We’ve had enough misinformation floating about in the world about the vaccine, so to have someone so wantonly floating crackpot ideas about how it affected his elbow is inexcusable. The team, hopefully, let him know as much. You can clearly detect the ill will he has for the team in subsequent quotes later on in that article, which leads to....

The future

...what does the team do with him now?

Dave Dombrowski talked about how Gregorius has not been guaranteed a starting spot, logical considering how bad he was. Then Gregorius retorted with this:

While it’s possible this means nothing, there is also enough evidence based on his comments earlier about the vaccine that Gregorius truly is angry with the team and that he will be an issue should he remain with the team. It would probably behoove them to try and get a replacement, whether that be from outside of the organization or Bryson Stott, their top offensive prospect. This is a situation that bears watching.

Final grade: F

The unproductive bat, the crackpot reasonings for the injury. Gregorius was just bad in 2021. It’s just amazing that it went so badly at such warp speed.