It is well-worn territory that Gleyber Torres had destroyed the Orioles this season. In 12 games, he has hit Baltimore pitching to the tune of .465/.540/1.233 with ten home runs, 13 RBI, and one very distressed broadcaster.
However, on June 20th, I came up with a theory. On that day, the Yankees were playing the Astros. Torres went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI. A couple weeks later on July 3rd, he again went 2-for-4, this time driving home two runs. That game was against the Mets. It was at that point that I began to further dig in and look through Torres’ stats.
Now, I will posit this hypothesis: Gleyber Torres hates the color orange.
Exhibit A: There are currently five teams in Major League Baseball that have orange somewhere in their color scheme: the Baltimore Orioles, the Detroit Tigers, the Houston Astros, the New York Mets, and the San Francisco Giants. Prior to 2019, the Miami Marlins also had orange as a part of their colors. Since the Yankees have not and will not play the Marlins this season, they are included as an orange team for the purposes of this exercise since that was a color of theirs the only time Torres has played them.
Games against those six teams account for 57 of Torres’ career games. He has recorded 210 at-bats and in that time has put up a .329/.381/.662 triple-slash line. That is 69 hits, 30 of which went for extra bases, and 51 RBI.
Exhibit B: That leaves 24 teams that are decidedly not-orange. In games against those teams, Torres hits a noticeably worse .261/.335/.433. He’s hit 23 home runs in those games, which is just three more than against orange teams, despite it accounting for 147 of his 204 career games. That is nearly a 300-point drop in OPS.
Exhibit C: Of the orange teams, all of their jerseys have at least some amount of orange in them, with one exception. While Detroit has some of the color in their road grays, the Tigers’ home uniforms are purely white and blue. Torres has played two games at Comerica Park, which is where he would have faced those orange-less uniforms. If you remove those two games from his orange totals, Torres’ triple slash line goes up across the board to .335/.386/.665.
So what’s driving this phenomenon? Here are a few theories:
Theory #1: These impressive numbers against orange teams do not carry over to Torres’ minor league career. In fact, Gleyber struggled mightily against them back then. In 167 at-bats against minor league teams with orange in their color scheme, he went just 38-for-167. He recorded only seven extra-base hits and a .645 OPS.
If you recall, Torres was injured while sliding home when he was playing in Triple-A with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on June 17, 2017. That caused him to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the remainder of that season. You can see video of that injury here:
If you pause that video at the 0:56 mark, you can clearly see someone sitting in the stands in an orange shirt.
That is the same side as the RailRiders’ dugout was on, so Torres would have gone past that fan on the way back to the clubhouse. The first theory is that the color orange now sends him into a rage as it causes him to remember back to that day.
Theory #2: It’s not as much hate for the color orange as it is love for his middle infield partner.
Since his call up last season, Torres has mostly played second base, with Didi Gregorius as the Yankees’ regular shortstop. Gregorius was born in the Netherlands and has represented the country in the World Baseball Classic. He was on the championship Dutch team at the 2011 Baseball World Cup, for which he received a knighthood. The Netherlands’ sporting teams famously wear orange as their main color.
The theory here is that Torres has developed such a love for his double-play partner that he is determined to make the Netherlands the one true orange baseball team and take down any other team that tries to get in on that.
Theory #3: As mentioned, Torres did not play a ton in the minors in 2017 or 2018. There was the injury and then a pretty quick call up in 2018. He ended his first year in the Yankees’ organization in 2016 by playing in the Arizona Fall League.
Torres was the MVP of the AFL that season. Three of the five opposing teams in the league have orange in their color scheme. Torres possibly could have become accustomed to dominating the color and has carried on the success since.
Or it could be random sample size noise against a sample that includes the Baltimore Orioles. But where’s the fun in that.