A few weeks ago, I wrote about Gleyber Torres and his approach to off-speed and breaking pitches. His hesitant swings had been giving him fits, as he was combining bad takes with weak hacks at those pitches that were hittable and in the zone. Now, as we approach the end of August, things have only gotten worse for Torres. His production against non-fastballs has become even worse, he’s in the midst of the worst month of his career, and he’s been one of the worst hitters in baseball in the second half.
Torres’ documented struggles against breaking and off-speed pitches have only seemed to get worse since I looked into it. In the month of August, the infielder has a .109 wOBA against those pitches, easily in the bottom-ten of all hitters in that stretch.
The effects of his problems approaching these pitches, and his overall approach at the plate, are showing now more than ever. In line with the issues stemming from his struggles with non-fastballs, hesitant and weak swings, Torres is hitting the ball into the ground significantly more than any other time this year, and he’s making weak contact more often too.
Combining a 45.2 percent ground ball rate, eight percent higher than any other month this season, with a 16.1 percent soft contact rate (also a season high) is not one the Yankees want to see. Weak ground balls are probably the least productive batted balls outside of pop ups. Much of the hope Torres regained was from a resurgence in his power earlier in this year, but this increase in weak contact and ground balls is concerning to say the least. Not to mention the fact that he’s slugging just .261 with an ISO of .076 in August. 13 of his 18 homers came before the end of June, and he has just three extra-base hits this month.
Even on a more surface level, Torres’ trends as this season has progressed have been quite worrisome. The Yankees’ second baseman has walked just three times this month (3.2 percent) and is striking out significantly more than he has in any other month (31.6 percent). In the first half, we saw an alternating act from Torres, between increased discipline (less aggressive at the plate, more walks) and increased slugging (higher swing rate, more slug, less walks). As of late, we have seen a complete drop off in both departments. It seemed like if he was able to put those two sides of himself together, we might see another level from him, but we’ve been seeing the polar opposite of that instead in the second half so far.
Torres’ 32 wRC+ in August is the sixth-worst in all of baseball among qualified hitters. It’s the worst month of his career at the plate, and also stands to be the worst month by any Yankee this year outside of Aaron Hicks’ obscene May (as well as his shortened August).
Considering all of this, there may be real cause for concern when it comes to Torres. Throughout the earlier part of this season, he was able to keep himself afloat at the plate, by balancing out two different modes he seemed to be able to get into. Now, neither of those parts of his game are playing out, and his production has taken a massive hit because of it.
It now feels like we are a bit removed from the relief we felt earlier this year, before which there was already concern stemming from two consecutive mediocre campaigns for Torres. Overall, he’s down to a 105 wRC+ so far in 2022, but it’s trending downward, and isn’t the type of number you’d associate with the resurgence we were seeing in the first half. We have seen him return to his top form at times this year, but right now we’re seeing the worst of the worst. With an offense that has been well below average as a unit this month, the Yankees could really use a return of the Gleyber we saw in the first half as they head into September.