Gleyber Torres: A No. 1 Concern

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.

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10 Comments

  1. John Hanna

    Interesting that one commenter above mentioned Cano. Cano had an awful age-25 2008 season. That, combined with what appeared to be a “lazy,” lackadaisical approach, tempted many to give up on him. The Yankees didn’t and were rewarded with an exceptional 5-season run during which I believe he had the highest (or certainly one of the highest) WAR in the majors. This is Torres’ age-24 season. Given his pedigree and his exceptional production at a young age (even accounting for the juiced ball), I don’t think the Yankees can or should give up on him. But, what they probably need to do is move him to 2nd base, as they’ve decided to do today. What this means for DJ and/or Gio beyond this season, I don’t know. But Gleyber is the most important of the 3 for the Yankees’ future success.

  2. Anthony Rizzeddardo

    Still think he’s a SS, Matt? God he’s bad. And then he just stands there and smiles after costing the team 3 runs. His laziness reminds me a lot of Robbie Cano but at least Robbie could hit. And of course Velazquez was sent down for the crime of playing a good SS and winning 13 straight ballgames.

  3. Lazzeri

    There is no way he can the the SS next year. Terrible, uninspired play all year.

  4. Anthony Rizzeddardo

    Gleyber Torres is not a major league SS, period, Matt. Both him and DJ looked good because of the juiced ball, and possibly juiced other things. I wish we could trade both this offseason but that DJ contract is now an albatross around our necks and nobody will take it. Gleyber should be traded and a real SS signed in FA. There will be plenty available. It’s not long haul covid. Judge got covid and looks fine. He’s just not a SS and Velazquez should be used as a defensive replacement every game like he was last night. And Higgy needs to be starting every game.

  5. Larry Cruz

    He’s barely a triple A player.

  6. H. Avis

    He may well be traded this winter. Terribly disappointing, like so many other Yankees in 2020 and 2021.

  7. novymir

    Maybe he’s not that good.

  8. David Pieragostini

    I believe he had covid before season (later he had false positive) so maybe he’s suffering from effects of virus. Many people have long-term effects.

  9. Vin F.

    Well said, Matt…. He is one of many Yankees that should join him in Australia.

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