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Examining Gleyber Torres’ very real All-Star case

Torres may not have as many at-bats under his belt, but he deserves a spot in the Midsummer Classic.

Houston Astros  v New York Yankees Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The praise for Gleyber Torres has been pouring in from all over the league since his arrival in late April. Some have pondered whether the Yankees’ best hitter sits at the bottom of the order, as Torres has taken the majority of his at-bats in the nine hole so far in 2018. After the 21-year-old slugged another home run over the weekend to give him 11 on the season, whispers of “Rookie of the Year candidate” have grown louder, and rightfully so.

The Rookie of the Year voting doesn’t occur until after the season. That’s too far down the road to discuss right now. However, the All-Star game is a month away, and it’s time to talk about Torres’ case to make the American League roster. Looking at the numbers, Torres’ case is as strong as the Yankees have been since he arrived in the Bronx.

The obvious demerit against Torres would be his workload. He didn’t appear in a major league game until April 22nd, and has recorded roughly 100 less at-bats than everyday second basemen like Jose Altuve or Jed Lowrie. Still, we’ve seen rookies explode onto the scene in late April to become an All-Star just months later. In fact, it was just a season ago that Dodgers’ rookie Cody Bellinger made his major league debut on April 25th, and promptly began launching home runs at a historic pace to earn his way into the Midsummer Classic. Torres may not be hitting dingers at Bellinger’s rookie pace (Bellinger had 15 homers at this time in 2017, while Torres currently has 11), but Torres’ power numbers from the second base slot should be enough to land him in Washington this July.

Torres’ 11 home runs are the most in the American League by a second baseman, and his .915 OPS is the best mark of AL second basemen who have at least 140 at-bats this season. Torres currently has an almost identical amount of plate appearances as Robinson Cano did before he went down with an injury, and Torres has him beat in almost every offensive category. Cano obviously won’t be Torres’ competition for an All-Star spot, but to be better than a consistent All-Star’s pace is impressive to say the least.

Torres’ main competition will likely be Altuve, Lowrie, Dozier and maybe Daniel Robertson of the Rays. Torres’ .559 slugging percentage is at least 70 points better than all of his top competition. His OPS is at least 50 points better than the group as well. In 25 fewer games than Altuve, Torres has driven in just five less runs than the Astros’ second baseman, while hitting six more home runs.

Some of the cumulative numbers may not be there due to Torres’ late call-up, but his 147 wRC+ is seven points higher than Altuve’s right now. Altuve is obviously going to be the starting second baseman when the American League takes the field in July, but Torres should be in the dugout when it happens, waiting to take his place in the middle innings.