In his minor league career, Gleyber Torres hit 24 home runs in 1602 plate appearances. In his Major League career, Gleyber Torres has hit 58 home runs in 1022 plate appearances. That’s a pretty stark change. If we’re being honest, he might be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the juiced up ball that’s been used the last two seasons. But just throwing our hands up and saying ‘it’s the ball’ is kind of boring and doesn’t always tell the whole story. So like we did last week, let’s take a closer look at a Yankee middle infielder’s home runs.
To cut right to the chase, what Torres is doing to generate more home runs–34 this year after 24 last year–is very similar to what DJ LeMahieu is doing. Let’s start by looking at pitch types.
|Fastball HR||Percentage||Non-Fastball HR||Percentage|
Like DJLM hitting more non-fastballs for homers, Torres is doing the same thing. And it’s not just a matter of an increased raw total, as you can see from the percentages above. What Statcast labels as “meatballs” have also increased for Torres, from 6.7% to 7.4%. That’s a small change, sure, but like DJLM, he’s swinging at more of them, going from 74% to 85.5%–a huge change! As an example, let’s look at pitches that are middle/middle.
Last season, Torres saw 131 such pitches and hit three home runs on them. So about 2.5% of those pitches ended up in the seats. This year, he’s got nine homers on middle-middle pitches, which amounts to about 6 %. Again, that’s a big jump. Like his frequent double play partner, Torres is taking advantage of bad pitches in a better way than he did last year.
Launch angle and home run distance, though, show a slight divide between Torres and LeMahieu. Torres’ launch angle–17.0–is much higher than DJLM’s and actually ranks in the top 100 of all batters. That’s despite a slight drop in launch angle from last year’s mark of 18.8. Torres also hits his average home run–397 feet–farther than LeMahieu does, but both are pretty low on the totem pole in terms of average home run distance.
Through a combination of things, Gleyber Torres has far exceeded our imaginations when it comes to power. I think it’s safe to say we thought he’d be a star player, but not with this much power. It’d be helpful to know his launch angles and home run distances from the minors to cut out some of the juiced ball noise, but, regardless, this is a pleasant surprise. The next few weeks of watching him and Gary Sanchez battle it out for the team home run lead will sure be fun.