Where did Gleyber Torres go? Where did this talent we thought was gonna give us another 10+ years of straight dominance? Was it the decrease of juiced balls that did it? Was it the pressure of being SS? There could have been so many factors in the recent decline of Gleyber Torres but I’m here today to convince y’all why you should hop onto the resurgence bandwagon of Gleyber Torres. On July 25th 2016, a massive blockbuster trade went down when the New York Yankees dealt their All Star caliber Closer Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs for a guy named Gleyber Torres and a couple of other prospects. At that time Chapman was coming off his domestic abuse suspension and posted a 2.01 ERA in 31 ½ innings of work. So in return for debatably the best closer in baseball the Yankees snagged the No.24 ranked prospect in the MLB Pipeline who had a 55 hit tool with 50 power, 60 arm, and an overall grade of 55 by MLB.com. And once he got into the Yankees farm, there was no turning back and he flew right up the boards. Over 1 ½ seasons in the minors, Torres posted a 143 wRC+ in that time frame in Single A, Double A, and Triple A. Torres was starting to get considered as a could not miss talent and the Yankees basically got him for free considering Chapman did indeed resign with the Yankees the following offseason.
Called to The Show
Gleyber Torres was called up for the lack of offense coming off the bench and also at the 2nd base position. Torres went OFF in the 1st half of the season slashing .294/.341/.510 with a 144 wRC+ and 15 HR and all of this happened in 63 games. And with that type of 1st half he got voted as an AL All Star reserve and with that All Star Selection Torres joined Aaron Judge, Joe DiMaggio, and Hideki Matsui as the only Yankees to make the All Star game as a rookie.
That wasn’t all for the All Star rookie 2nd baseman because he ended the season with 24 HR, 77 RBI, slashed .271/.340/.480 with a 121 wRC+ and 2.0 fWAR. Torres fell short of AL Rookie of the Year behind fellow teammate Miguel Andujar and the winner Shohei Ohtani. But guess what? Somehow he went to a new stratosphere the following season….
In 2019, Torres was yet again an All Star as a replacement for Tampa Bay’s Brandon Lowe and he ended the season not only being one of the best promising players, he ended the season being one of the best offensive players in the league. With .278/.337/.535, 125 wRC+, 38 HR, 90 RBI, and a 3.6 WAR which ranked 7th amongst all 2nd basemen finishing in front of former “MVP” Jose Altuve. So coming off a season like that you’d think Gleyber would produce the same stats or even better right?
Welp that definitely wasn’t the case, when the Yankees departed from long time SS Didi Gregorius they made Torres the full time SS while having LeMahieu as the 2nd baseman. Being the New York Yankees SS is a big weight on your shoulder and you’re expected to be you know who. So being the full time shortstop Torres started taking his mind off the offensive side and started to think more defensively and well that clearly didn’t work.
Over the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Torres was statistically one of the worst SS defensively according to OAA and DRS, in 2021 Torres ranked in the 1st percentile in OAA and 3rd worst in DRS at -10. And with his constant struggles on the field it translated to his offense. Since those 2 amazing seasons he struggled to even hit 10 HR in the 2021 campaign and put up a line of .259/.331/366 (94 wRC+) and a 1.7 WAR. This really sent shockwaves through the Yankees organization and the Yankees fanbase because we believed we had our SS for the next 10+ years and now it’s all a blur now with Torres moving back to 2nd.
Moving Back will Save Him
In a very “very” small sample size (70 AB/19 G) back at 2nd base Torres posted a 124 wRC+, .815 OPS, .372 OBP, .443 SLG%, and a .351 wOBA. So the talent is still in that body of his he just needs to unleash the monster again. Will the power numbers come back though? Well it’s known that the 2018/2019 seasons were plagued with juiced balls and Torres might have been a merchant of that. So should you expect that 38 HR season from him?
No you shouldn’t but you should expect something around 20-25 HR according to ZiPS and Steamer projections. Both projection systems project a bounceback season from Torres with a wRC+ hovering around 110 and a WAR around 2.0 – 3.0. You’re probably thinking, “how can the Yankees fix Gleyber Torres?”
Well it’s as simple as hitting the ball harder. Torres has never been notorious for hitting the ball very hard but the 2021 campaign was really bad for him being in the 15th percentile in Avg Exit Velocity, 26th percentile in HardHit%, and 43rd percentile in Barrel%. I’m not a hitting coach but I really do think it’s as simple as hitting it harder and increasing his launch angle back up to 18%.
Here’s a guy I want to compare right now, Bo Bichette. Bo is hovering around the same ISO (Isolated Power) as Torres around that low .110-.180 range and what does Bo do? He beats the cover off the ball being in the 85th percentile in Avg Exit Velo, and 83rd percentile in HardHit%. Hard Hits = Good results.
So if I’m Dilion Lawson I’m telling Torres to just concentrate on hitting it harder and he should be able to produce at a near All Star level again. I fully believe in a Gleyber Torres resurgence and hopefully this article has also made you feel that way because at the end of the day this kid is still only 25 and about to hit his prime years and has proven that he can be that guy, just give it time and trust.