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Gleyber Torres is back, and maybe even getting better

The infielder is showing flashes of his breakout seasons, and is hitting the ball in a way that inspires some confidence.

Chicago Cubs v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

As this season has progressed, Gleyber Torres has seemingly put to bed many of the concerns about him returning to form, or even being a competent major leaguer. The infielder’s 123 wRC+ ranks fourth in the top-heavy New York lineup, and sixth among second basemen around the sport. Perhaps most importantly, it’s just two points behind the mark he put up during his huge 2019 season.

In those first two seasons of his career, Torres was off to about as good a start as you could want, and then essentially hit a wall. He floated around being an average player, and all but lost his power at the plate. This looked to continue into this season, but a hot month has seemed to right the ship. On top of this, Torres is hitting the ball with more authority than ever, and is even running into some poor luck as he continues to produce.

When comparing his breakout 2019 campaign to this season, one thing that stands out is the similarities between his approaches at the plate. Torres is one of many Yankees to show more aggressiveness at the plate in 2022, and the change seems to have helped him return to his once-promising form.

The correlation in his aggressiveness and overall production is worth looking at, and with his higher swing rates comes the predictable effects. For example, a higher chase rate, likely an unavoidable consequence of aggression, as well as a career low walk rate. A partial reason for this walk rate, and a seemingly positive change, is the fact that while Torres is swinging more than he ever has, he is also whiffing less than ever.

This improvement becomes even more important when you consider the quality with which Torres is hitting the baseball this season. Even at his peak, he was never Giancarlo Stanton in this department, but he sure is doing his best impression.

This season, Torres is blowing his previous peripheral numbers out of the water. His 92.1 average exit velocity is his best in a season by three miles per hour. It also places him in the 92nd percentile among major leaguers, putting him towards the top when it comes to his authority with the bat. He’s doing it often, too, with a career high 11.1 percent barrel rate and an eye-popping 49 percent hard hit rate. That second figure is particularly notable, as it is a career high mark for Torres by 11 percent.

His expected stats help tell that story as well, as Torres’ .584 xSLG is a career best by over 90 points, and puts the young infielder in the 93rd percentile. Interestingly, this type of pop is not quite typical for Torres even at his best, and particularly when comparing it to the last two seasons.

Torres has also upped his fly ball rate to a career high just shy of 50 percent. Essentially, he is hitting the ball harder and with a higher quality than he ever has, even at his best, and is putting the ball in the air more often too. All of this while swinging more, and whiffing less. These are all excellent strides he has made, and they bode quite well for the legitimacy of this resurgence.

The cherry on top of all of this would be the idea that there may be some more to come as well. Not only is his production back close to what we came to expect after his first two seasons, he also isn’t having the best of luck. As detailed, his expected stats would point toward some huge numbers, and his BABIP sits at just .250. This sort of thought gives no guarantees of course, but it’s far more encouraging to be underperforming than overperforming.

Gleyber Torres seems to have returned to an approach that is more comfortable and productive for him and one that is similar on a few fronts to his first two All-Star seasons. As he has become more aggressive, he’s hitting the ball more often, and when he does he is making it count. The Yankees’ second baseman is hitting the ball better than ever, has left behind a lot of warranted doubts, and may even be on his way to improving.