Gleyber Torres has largely put to rest any lingering doubts following his disappointing 2020 and 2021 seasons, and the rough first few weeks of the current campaign. He is maintaining what would be a career-best wRC+, and seems to have turned a corner. At the end of June, Jake wrote a piece describing the two sides of Gleyber Torres that we’ve seen over the course of his career. And this concept becomes pretty clear when examining the variance in his season performances. This year, the Yankees have seen flashes of both of these sides, and although we may be seeing the lesser of the two recently, Torres going through both this year may be a good sign.
In 2018 and 2019, Torres’ supremely promising first two seasons, the infielder displayed aggressiveness at the plate. He picked out his pitch and would go at it, hitting for excellent power, if not sacrificing some of his plate discipline in the process. On the other side, in 2020 and 2021, he lacked significantly in the power department, but became more patient at the plate, walking more and chasing less. It was clear that the power served his overall production better, but the display of patience in the more recent seasons was able to at least keep him around league average at the plate.
This season, in what has been a satisfying resurgence, Torres has been hitting the ball with authority once again (for the most part). However, Torres hasn’t homered since June 19th, and outside of a few doubles over the past week, hasn’t shown much power at all. As a silver lining though, while that power has been subdued of late, the impressive patience he has shown in the past seems to be resurfacing in its stead.
It is a bit of an arbitrary stopping point, but it serves to exemplify how he balances his two sides out. Since that last homer on the 19th, Torres has hit for a 106 wRC+, slashing .271/.358/.339. This alone shows us that he is reaching base at a better clip, but doing so without the power we know he has. Since then, while the ball hasn’t been finding gaps or seats, Torres’ walk rate has been 11.9 percent, a stark contrast to the 5.8 percent clip he was putting up to that point.
Aside from the fact that he is walking more than twice as often, and has an OBP over 40 points higher, the less obvious numbers support the trend too. Torres has cut his swing rate down to 43.5 percent from a team leading 52.1 percent mark, while also cutting his swing rate on pitches outside of the zone by nearly 10 percent. As detailed, these changes don’t come without sacrifice. This stretch includes just three extra-base-hits, all doubles, and has seen his average exit velocity dip by almost 4 mph, and his barrel rate more than halved. When he’s less aggressive at the plate, he simply hits for less power, a part of the game that we have seen is crucial to his production.
The bright spot here however, is that this ability to show good discipline at the plate provides Torres with a solid trapeze net when he isn’t crushing the ball. It is, of course, preferred that he is hitting for as much power as possible, but even when that isn’t happening (2020/21, the past few weeks) he is still able to be a league average bat.
As Jake detailed, the question remains whether or not these two sides of Torres can be reconciled. He is already good regardless, even if one side is preferable to the other, but a combination of that discipline and power would put him on another level entirely. Perhaps, the fact that we are seeing both of these sides in just half a season, means that combination may not be far away. Regardless, it is good to see that when one part of Torres’ game is lacking, he’s able to at least come close to making it up with another.