Updated: Jul 31, 2020
Just how impressive has the 23-year-old Yankees' infielder been?
By: Matteo Raffa
The 23-year-old Yankee phenom Gleyber Torres takes the diamond today with the Bronx Bombers in the nation’s capital, as the Yankees and Nationals showcase the restart of American sports. Torres came off of a historic season last year with outstanding stats in his second year: -- .278 BA, 38 HR, 90 RBI, .871 OPS. His 2019 season will be most remembered for how he clobbered the Orioles’ pitching staff. Putting up 13 HRs in 18 games, including 5 multi-HR nights.
We’ll take a look at Torres’ first and second-year numbers in comparison to those of Colorado Rockies’ 2x All-Star Shortstop, Trevor Story.
In Story’s first year in the MLB, he gained his big-league spotlight by sending the ball through the thin-aired Denver sky. He homered 27 times in his 97 games, putting up a crazy .909 OPS and 4.3 WAR. The big-league average for OPS (On-Base Plus Slugging) is .758. The stat highlights the hitter’s total bases and consistency with getting on base. Similar to the +/- statistic in basketball, WAR measures the player’s contribution to the team in all aspects of the field including both defense and offense. His numbers at the plate are too similar to Torres’ to not make a valid comparison. Gleyber’s OPS of .820 was far better than other top AL rookies, and his 3.5 WAR is impressive for someone his age as well (just 23 years old). Gleyber showed some muscle with 41 XBH and was disciplined in the box, forcing 42 walks. Both infielders showed their team that they are run producers and always a threat to any pitcher when they are on deck. Torres, playing one less game in his second year, took a further leap in his production compared to Story’s. He posted higher figures in every significant measurable stat, noticeably in OPS, HR, WAR, and hits/XBH. Story has broken out to become one of the best SS in the National League and shows no sign of slowing down. His power and vision at the plate separate him from many other infielders. Traditionally, infielders are seen as contact hitters that slap singles and steal second base. Story and Torres have broken this trend with the incredible figures they put up in the clean-up spot of their lineups.
The Yankees organization has always been keen on spotting talented infielders. Names such as Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly, Alex Rodriguez, Graig Nettles carry so much weight with the recent history of the franchise. Infielders seem to have led the charge towards the AL Pennant and World Series every season for the Bronx Bombers. How does Gleyber Torres compare to Yankees’ 2009 World Champion second baseman Robinson Canó? Canó is a career .302 batter, 8x All-Star, 5x Silver Slugger, and 2x Gold Glove Award winner. Canó’s career will undoubtedly be revered as a HOF career when he hangs up his cleats. You may be surprised at how Gleyber compares to Canó’s first two seasons as a Yankee (2005-2006).
During their rookie seasons, both infielders showed great potential for the franchise. Canó was a near .300 batter with slight lefty power, smacking a very impressive 155 hits in 132 games. He was 2nd in AL ROY voting, losing the race to relief pitcher Huston Street. In their second seasons, Torres homered 23 more times than Canó, and drove in 14 RBI more than the Dominican lefty hitter. Both had improved their game significantly. Canó, however, hit an incredible .342 with 165 hits in only 122 games. Proving himself to be better than expected at reading pitch location and finding holes in the infield. Torres exploded with 23 more long balls and a dozen more RBI. tacking on 64 XBH. With nearly identical OPS and WAR figures, Torres seems to be trending towards a career that will look very similar to that of Canó’s. Gleyber is proving to the Yankees that he is going to be a force in the Evil Empire for many years to come. His contribution to the 2019 team did not go unnoticed by Boone and the fanbase.
In a pregame interview on July 25th, Boone had said that at 23 years old Gleyber Torres is already one of the best players in the Major Leagues. High praise from the skipper.
However, Torres still has much to prove as a Yankee. He is a great infielder but is not immune to committing an error occasionally. He is not the most consistent at the plate in the postseason but can get very hot in the right situations. It will be exciting to see how he plays as the new Yankees SS, his natural position. Will he be able to lead the team in HRs now that Stanton and Judge are fully healthy? How will the 60-game season affect Torres’ output for the team? I believe that Torres will be one of the leading powerhouses of the Yankees offense and a true general in the deep part of the infield. The numbers are there to back up the claim, now it’s up to Gleyber.