Gleyber Torres is in line to be the full-time Yankees shortstop. We know he is a professional Baltimore Orioles killer. But is that all he is?
Yankees’ shortstop Gleyber Torres had no sophomore slump last year — he blasted 38 home runs and drove in 90 runs, both career-highs.
Now, after the departure of Didi Gregorius, the 23-year old is in line to play shortstop in the Bronx full time.
Gregorius filled that role previously and had exceeded every expectation after replacing Derek Jeter. But the question looms if Torres is ready for that role.
Torres had his fair share of hot and cold streaks last year as well, and a spring to forget defensively before the season was postponed.
His month-by-month OPS last year, in calendar order, was the following: .768, .931, 1.032, .657, 1.023, .759.
Last year, Torres hit .278 with a .337 on-base percentage and .535 slugging percentage. In 18 games against the Orioles last year, Torres slashed .394/.467/1.045. Half of his 26 hits against them were home runs.
If you take the Orioles out of the equation his numbers weren’t that great.
Torres’ numbers dip to .263/.283/.465 against anyone who was not the Orioles last year. He had 162-game pace for a 32-home run season, but in his 144 games played, it was a pace of just dingers.
Almost 19 percent of his walks, and a whopping 34 percent of his home runs, came against Baltimore. Meanwhile, he played just 12.5 percent of his games against them.
Torres, of course, is a shortstop by trait and his defense has been cause for concern. While Gregorius was recovering from Tommy John surgery last year, Torres was the shortstop – he made 11 errors there. In 10 spring games this year, Torres committed five errors at short.
Now here’s the bright side on Torres: Torres is a .308 hitter in 14 postseason games.
In his first postseason game — the 2018 American League Wild Card Game — he went 0-for-3. Since then, against the 2018 Red Sox, and last year’s Twins and Astros, Torres is 16-for-50 (.320) with a .981 OPS. In last year’s nine postseason games, he slashed .324/.375/.703. He had at least one hit in all but one postseason game. Eight of his 12 hits went for extra bases.
But Torres did go 1-for-13 in his final three postseason games. In Game 4 of last year’s ALCS, he went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts, left six guys on base, and made two errors — his only ones of the postseason.
So here’s the answer.
Torres is not just an Orioles killer. He is just very streaky. And the Yankees cannot afford hot and cold streaks when it comes to their World Series hopes.
But boy, when he’s hot, he’s an MVP-caliber player.
He can’t play the Orioles every day, but he doesn’t have to to be one of the best players in the majors.
Torres is too talented to not plug him at shortstop every day.