Whether it be Homer Bush or Luis Sojo, Yankees fans hold a gritty, hustling utility infielder close to their hearts. Neither was necessarily productive, but they stepped in when needed, occasionally coming up with the occasional clutch hit. That led them to universal acceptance in New York. For at least the 2017 season, you can add Ronald Torreyes to the list.
You could argue Torreyes was needed more in 2017 than either Bush or Sojo in their careers, especially given the injuries that hit the Yankees’ infield this season. With Didi Gregorius missing the first month of the season and Starlin Castro spending extended time on the disabled list, Torreyes was called upon for 108 games to help keep an infield that was already missing Greg Bird intact.
Torreyes handled shortstop duties while Gregorius was healing, and batted .313 in April while smacking a home run in just the second game of the regular season. Sure, he wouldn’t hit another until the end of June when Castro went down, but Torreyes was never expected to provide any kind of power in the lineup. He was a backup infielder who did a solid job putting the ball in play and keeping his average around .300 while playing acceptable defense in the field.
More importantly, Torreyes seemed to save his best when those ahead of him in the pecking order suffered injury. In addition to his strong April while Gregorius made his way back, Torreyes batted .321 in August while Castro was out until the final week of the month with a hamstring injury.
His most memorable moment of the season may have came with a mostly healthy infield, playing third base in a tight game against the Rays back in June:
On second thought, that may have been Torreyes’ most memorable moment while actually on the field. He really made an impact in the dugout as he prepares for a career after baseball:
Torreyes’ value to the team also showed the most when the Yankees were away from the Bronx. Torreyes’ batting average in Yankees’ gray was an impressive .331 for the season, while his RBI totals on the road were double that of his home mark. He also hit .338 off lefties compared to .278 off righties. His other offensive numbers don’t jump out at you by any means, but when Torreyes made contact, he was able to find holes.
Again, considering his purpose on the team, Torreyes did a fine job for the Yankees this season. His plate discipline can improve, as his walk percentage of 3.3% shows. For a backup infielder though, one who required a heavier than expected workload, Torreyes stepped in nicely.