When Brandon Lowe was sent to the Injured List earlier this week, it finally earned Gleyber Torres a spot on the American League All-Star team. It’s a shame he received recognition this late in the process and at the expense of another players injury, but All-Star voting is pretty flawed. Regardless, he earned a spot on the team. So when’s a better time than to take a look at how good Torres really is than this week?
To start, let’s all remember that Torres is only twenty-two years old. Twenty two. What he’s doing has been pretty incredible and under-appreciated in my opinion. Part of what makes him special is how easy he makes everything look. From turning two or just making adjustments mid-at-bat, he performs like he’s been playing the game at an elite level for years. He makes it incredibly easy to forget his age because of his mature talent and ability to avoid rookie mistakes.
It is obviously still early in his career, but so far he has absolutely lived up to his hype. He was 2017’s number two prospect in all of baseball behind only Shohei Ohtani, who was coming to the MLB with legitimate professional experience and two-way talent. Not exactly a fair comparison in my opinion. Regardless, he was widely considered one of the most exciting prospects in the league. So far he’s showed us why. Let’s take a look.
How Good has Torres been?
Let’s start by looking at his season numbers. So far he’s slashing a .294/.361/.536 (.896 OPS). Even from a very straightforward point of view, these numbers are very good. He gets on base more than a third of the time and has an OPS of almost .900. Hard to ask much more out of a sophomore season rookie infielder. To put his OPS number into perspective, he scores a 135 OPS+ where league average would be marked at 100. In other words, he is 35% better than the average league player. Of the 34 second-basemen qualified for the batting title, Torres’ adjusted OPS ranks 4th. Torres also has a 132 wRC+ (32% better than the rest of the league). He is already a stud.
And he’s only improving. His 19 home runs also outline his ability to hit for power. This season he hits a home run in 5.7% of his at-bats, up almost a percentage point from last year. Over the course of a full season could turn into about 5 extra homers on the year — a significant figure.
Perhaps another reason he’s such a fan favorite is due to his ability to hit in the clutch. As Friend of the Blog Katie Sharp pointed out…
…he’s hitting .412 (28-68) with RISP this season. If it wasn’t for LeMahieu’s ridiculous season, Torres would be getting a lot more attention for that number. His ability to hit with runners in scoring position has his him tied for third for the highest number of RBIs in the Yankees power hitting lineup with a total of 50. He’s been a huge factor in the Yanks ability to score often and in big situations and he deserves recognition for it.
In addition to his stellar offense, Torres is a force in the middle of the infield. Defensive ability is really hard to quantify and I don’t think any stat does it justice, but every fan should feel more than comfortable that Torres will make every play expected of him plus a little more. I mean, just check out this DP he turned with Didi:Embed from Getty Images
Torres in Comparison
So, Torres’ raw numbers are clearly exceptional. But what about in comparison to the rest of the league?
This season, Torres has a 2.5 fWAR which ties him with Mookie Betts for thirtieth best in the entire league. Pretty good for a twenty-two-year-old! He also ranks the second highest on the star-studded Yanks, behind only DJ LeMahieu, who has an impressive 3.5 fWAR. Sanchez is the closest behind him but is still about half a win away. Gleyber has been one of the most important Yankees on a very good team.
Katie Sharp again pulled some fun numbers to help us compare Torres to other Yankee greats: the only other bomber under the age of 23 to have at least 19 homers and 50 RBI through 84 games is Joe DiMaggio:
Obviously, I’m not saying Torres is going to be Joe D, but that’s a pretty interesting way to understand just how talented Torres is at such a young age. He’s also only the fourth Yank to appear in two All-Star games before turning 23 years old. These stats don’t necessarily mean much, but they are impressive considering the Yankees long and successful history and in demonstrating how rare it is for a player Torres’ age to have the success he’s having.
Now, for fun, let’s take a look at Torres’s age 21-22 seasons in comparison to two other Yankee infield greats: Jeter and A-Rod. I know, Alex wasn’t a Yankee then, but he’s one of the best infielders ever and was very successful at a very young age.
- Torres: .280./348/.503 (.851 OPS)
- Derek: .310/.365/.425 (.790 OPS)
- Alex: .306/.355/.530 (.886 OPS)
Damn. Torres is right there, basically. His power numbers are higher than Jeter’s and his OBP is almost the same as A-Rods. Interestingly, Torres is worth 2.4 more wins than Jeter in these two compared seasons with only 110 more PA. Even more interestingly, he has a higher HR% than A-Rod did (5.3% compared to 4.7%). Alex had a really low HR hitting season in ’97 (age 21), but still. Beyond the traditional slash numbers, Torres compares very well to some exceptional infielders who had long, Hall of Fame careers.
If Torres develops into a combination of those two HOF deserving players, I’d be one happy Yankee fan during his tenure and I imagine you would be too.
I think we can all assume Torres is only going to get better, as it’s what he’s already shown us: he hasn’t endured a sophomore slump yet and has only improved upon his rookie breakout season. My personal favorite improvement has been his ability to walk more and strikeout less. This season his BB rate is up to 9.7% from 8.7% and his K rate is down from 25.2% to 22.4. Pretty impressive improvements from such a young player.
Torres has a long career ahead of him, but he’s already one of the most exciting players on the Yankees. He looks as though could develop into a Hall of Fame caliber player and be a centerpiece of a World Series team for many years to come.