Since his call-up, Gleyber Torres has exceeded expectations. He's batting .333 with 2 homers (including a walk-off homer vs the Indians on Sunday), 11 RBI, 4 BB, a .500 SLG, and an .873 OPS in 16 games played. No big deal. On the contrary, Gleyber Torres' impact on the Yankees has been huge. The Yankees are 15-1 when he plays, he gets on base and occasionally hits home runs, yes, including a walk-off 3-run homer vs. Cleveland. As a result, I believe Gleyber Torres is a better option at the leadoff spot than Brett Gardner or Aaron Hicks.
Gardner has been in a huge slump and he has never gotten out of it. This year, Gardner is batting .198 with 1 HR (hit on Opening Day), 10 RBI, and 33 K's in 32 games. Yes, he walks a lot (20) and has a .320 OBP overall, but in the month of May, he's batting .143 (3-21) with 2 BB and one run scored in 6 games played with a .269 OBP. In addition, due to his age, his speed is not what it once was (only 2 SB).
Hicks, though slightly better than Gardner, is not the best option either. He is batting .231 with 2 HR, 11 RBI, and 15 walks through 23 games played. Again, his OBP is a solid .347 and that is beneficial, but Hicks lacks in the skill of being a high impact player. His biggest contribution was a 2-HR game against a tanking Detroit team.
Side-By-Side Comparison (2018 Stats):
Player Name GP H AB AVG 2B 3B HR RBI R BB K SB CS OBP SLG OPS
Gleyber Torres 16 18 54 .333 3 0 2 11 7 4 12 1 0 .373 .500 .873
Brett Gardner 32 24 121 .198 3 0 1 10 25 20 33 2 0 .320 .248 .568
Aaron Hicks 23 18 78 .231 4 1 2 11 13 15 20 3 1 .347 .385 .732
Italics indicate the player that leads/co-leads the 3 players in the category.
# of Italics:
Torres- 8 (AVG, HR, RBI, K's, CS, OBP, SLG, OPS)
Gardner- 4 (H, R, BB, CS)
Hicks- 5 (2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB)
Compared to Hicks and Gardner, Torres is the better and more impactful player. Even though Gardner has more hits, walks, and runs scored than Torres, Gardner has played in twice the amount of games than Torres has. Gardner's high amount of runs can be attributed to contributions behind him from Judge, Stanton, Gregorius, and Sanchez. If Torres would be in the leadoff spot, he would see his runs scored increase. Hicks and Torres have similar numbers to each other, but again, Torres has played in less games and has a batting average 102 points higher than Hicks. Torres's ability to get on base via base hit would allow him to be driven in by the power hitters behind him on a regular basis. In addition, his speed would prove beneficial compared to Hicks and Gardner. Gardner's low batting average is detrimental for a leadoff hitter and Hicks' average is not bad, but not great. Because Torres has proven himself to be a very productive player, hitting in the leadoff spot would allow him to contribute more frequently.