Last night, Aaron Boone made a move that I’ve wanted to see for a long time: he hit Gleyber Torres in the top-third of the order. Look, I don’t want to complain about the Yankees lineup–the roster is so talented and so deep that there are many ways to arrange a lineup, and someone has to hit in the bottom third. Having said that, though, I think we can all agree that Torres deserves a solidified place in the middle or top third of the lineup.
On Thursday night in Oakland, Torres was hitting seventh. He went 4-4 with 2 homers and accounted for all three runs scored by the Bombers. I was a bit puzzled by his place in the lineup, and obviously, Boone made the move after this. So, I decided to take a look at Torres’s lineup placement this season as we look ahead to a playoff team. Here are the number of plate appearances Torres has recorded in each third of the lineup, including last night:
- Top Third: 34 (6%)
- Middle Third: 342 (70%)
- Bottom Third: 117 (24%)
Obviously, the majority of the time Torres hits in the middle third. Specifically, he hits fifth the most, with 142 PA (30% of all ABs). That is preferable to the bottom third, where he was the other day, but Gleyber Torres belongs at the top of the Yankee lineup, and nowhere else.
Let’s take a look at his numbers this season to see why he deserves to hit higher in the lineup. He is hitting: .287/.350/.551 (131 wRC+) with 32 home runs and improving walk and strikeout rates. It’s pretty hard to expect much more from a 22-year-old in his second season.
Let’s take a look at his numbers in comparison to the rest of the team. 15 Yankees have recorded 100 times or more this season. Here are Torres’ rankings among them:
- Home runs: 32 (1st)
- RBI: 76 (2nd)
- Runs: 84 (2nd)
- OPS: .901 (3rd)
- Avg: .287 (5th)
- OBP: .351 (5th, with a 20 point lead over Gardy in sixth)
- wRC+: 131 (6th, but 3rd among those with 300 PA or more)
- Strikeout Percentage: 20.3% (6th)
Gleyber is pretty obviously one of the best hitters in the Yankee lineup, he has stayed healthy, and, most importantly, he is continuing to improve. The goal of lineup construction is to get your best hitters the most appearances, and there is no reason for Gleyber Torres to hit in the bottom third of the lineup at all anymore, let alone 25% of the time.
I know how talented the lineup is and I completely understand how challenging it will be to find him a spot among the bigger names, but it is clear by now that Torres is certainly performing well enough to be a top of the lineup hitter, even on this Yankee roster.
I don’t know about you, but I want Torres getting as many at-bats as possible in the playoffs this year. He is cool and collected at the plate, and it’s hard not to feel good when he is up. That means he shouldn’t be hitting seventh or eighth. I don’t care if he’s only 22, he’s been one of the Yankees best hitters this season and I want him at the plate as often as possible.
Personally, I want to see him hit second. I know that’s an unpopular opinion considering it’s Judge’s spot. But I do want to see DJ and Torres hit back-to-back with big power hitters like Judge and Sánchez right behind them.
Regardless of the exact location, I hope that Boone and the front office place Torres in the middle third or higher come October. I think Torres will reward them if they stick with it.