What is there to say about Gleyber Torres’s 2021 that hasn’t already been said? Sometimes, the simplest explanations are best: it’s been Bad. Real bad. Terrible. Horrible. No good. Very bad. Maybe he wants to move to Australia at this point.
It’s clear, or at least evident, that the rocket ball of the past may’ve had a good deal to do with Gleyber’s power surge and it seems the pandemic season of 2020 messed with him a lot. Fresh for 2021, though, I don’t think any of us expected what we’re seeing out of him now. His at bats mostly look weak and any hot streaks he’s gone on have quickly dissipated (though injury plays a role there). And that’s to say nothing of his defense, which has reached unacceptable levels.
Getting back to our word game, baffling is another word that comes to mind. Especially when some of his expected stats look pretty normal and decent, rather than awful and baseball tragic. .318 xwOBA! .356 xwOBA on contact! But, it’s hard to buy some of that when Gleyber isn’t really a big exit velocity guy or a big hard hit guy. He doesn’t sting the ball and never really did, even in that powerful 2019 season.
What’s happened is, like many Yankees this season, he’s had trouble against the fastball. Per Statcast, Torres has seen 532 heaters this year, good for 30.9% of the pitches against him, the highest mark by over 10%. And he’s done practically nothing with those fastballs.
His batting average against them? .197. Slugging? .308. wOBA? .280. He’s gone from popping up just under 2% of fastballs last year to over 7% this year. Even so, he does have decent expected stats against them (.440 xSLG, .333 xwOBA) and even has his best hard hit percentage of any pitch against him at almost 54%.
As of now, despite early success, the story of Gleyber Torres’s career is one that pits what should be and what actually is against each other and neither side is truly winning. We’ve got two good years overall and two terrible ones. This year, we’ve got a lot of really bad “is” and some good “should be.” The Yankees made a big investment in Gleyber by re-signing DJ LeMahieu and cementing Torres as the shortstop. Thus far, he’s fallen short, pun very much intended. Hopefully we see a lot more of the “should be” going forward.