Ronald Torreyes is an invaluable part of this year’s Yankees. From his cradles with Didi every Judge home run to his adequate job filling in for Didi and more recently Starlin Castro, Toe has significantly contributed to the team’s success. He plays above-average defense while playing all over the infield.
His offense has been pretty good this year as well, especially considering he’s 5’8” (and that’s generous). He has a slash line of .284/.304/.365 which is very respectable for a bench player. Torreyes achieves this success using a unique approach to hitting.
If you haven’t noticed yet, Torreyes is really aggressive at the plate, often swinging at the first pitch and swinging a lot in general. Could he really be the most aggressive hitter in MLB? Here are his plate discipline numbers, per Fangraphs.
Ronald Torreyes Plate Discipline Numbers Compared to The League Average
- O-Swing%: 37.5%/29.8%
- Z-Swing%: 74.8%/66.8%
- Swing%: 55.2%/46.4%
- O-Contact%: 72.2%/62.9%
- Z-Contact%: 92.6%/85.6%
- Contact%: 85.4%/77.6%
- Zone%: 47.6%/45.0%
- Swinging-Strike%: 8.6%/10.4%
*Here is the link to what these all mean if you don’t know. The focus will mostly be on the simple stats like Swing% and Contact%.*
Interesting. In most categories, Torreyes is consistently 7-10% above the league average. That’s not necessarily bad, though. Yes, Torreyes swings more than the average player, but he also makes contact more frequently. He’s hitting an impressive 92.6% of strikes he swings at. C’mon, that’s pretty good. It would be concerning if the high contact percentage wasn’t there with the high swing percentage, but it is, so no need to worry.
Many successful players have played with a free-swinging style. For example, the player with the highest Swing% last year was Adam Jones. Yankees fans know him too well as a player who has hurt the Yankees for years. Another player with a similar style is Jose Altuve, MVP candidate and the player who is probably closest physically to Torreyes in the league. He sees the 5th fewest pitches among batters qualified for the batting title at 3.48 pitches per at-bat. This style has turned out quite well for Altuve.
On a related note, it could be just me but Torreyes seems to have gotten a lot of first pitch hits this year. Per FOXSports, he has 16, so maybe it is just me. But there is other evidence to support that he’s the most aggressive player in the league.
Ronald Torreyes does not watch a lot of pitches per at-bat. To be exact, he sees a measly 3.20 pitches/at-bat. Torreyes isn’t yet qualified for the batting title, but if he was, that would be the lowest in the league by far. Among qualified batters, Yuli Gurriel is lowest at 3.36 pitches/at-bat. If you look at that pitches-per-at-bat list closer, the evidence becomes even more compelling. Most of the players with less pitches/at-bat than Torreyes are pitchers. And the few batters on that list barely have any plate appearances; the batter below him with the next most plate appearance is Juan Graterol with 69 PAs.
Additionally, while walks (or lack thereof) aren’t necessarily an indicator of success, they do show something about a player’s plate discipline. Torreyes only has eight walks this year, which, again, isn’t the end of the world as long as he’s hitting. The only players in the AL who walk less than Torreyes are other shortstops who don’t swing the bat as well as he does:
Ronald Torreyes: 1 walk every ~ 36 PAs
Adeiny Hechavarria: 1 walk every ~ 37 PAs
Tim Anderson: 1 walk every ~ 38 PAs
Alcides Escobar: 1 walk every ~ 41 PAs
Having a hitter with a style as aggressive as Torreyes’ is not useful when trying to run up an opposing pitcher’s pitch count (*cough cough* Chris Sale *cough cough*), but it is useful in many other ways, especially when you factor in Toe’s versatility and defense. In recent memory, Torreyes has sparked a handful of rallies by getting on base in the 9-spot with the top of the order coming up. He has also come through with some clutch hits, notably his walk off against the Rangers way back in June. Ronald “Toe” Torreyes has brought a lot to this Yankees team.
His style of hitting coupled with his stature is what makes Torreyes who he is. I wouldn’t ask him to change it for the world even if his OBP is not that high. As for the question of whether Torreyes is the most aggressive hitter in the league, I wouldn’t go that far. However, he is definitely in the Top 5 and that attitude and approach drives his success.