I have personally written about Gleyber Torres quite a bit recently, but I don’t think that is without reason. When someone experiences the changes that Torres has, from the first half to the second, there is plenty to pick apart about his performance. He had a huge game Sunday afternoon, but pretty much everything has fallen off for him in the second half. He’s walking less, striking out more, not hitting for much power, and all in all has a wRC+ 70 points lower than it was in the first half before play began Sunday. In the last few weeks however, something has visually stood out to possibly (partially) explain his obvious struggles at the plate. His swing has looked uncomfortable and jagged, with quite the hitch as the bat crosses the plate and into the follow through.
It has been documented plenty, but as a refresher, Torres hit to a 130 wRC+ in the first half, on par with hitters like Trea Turner and Kyle Tucker this season. In the second half before Sunday’s game, that number has been 50, good for the fourth worst of any qualified hitter in baseball. As noted, in that drop off, Torres had seen his strikeout rate go from 19 percent to 28.6, and he’d been slugging under .300, when he was near .500 in the first half. It would seem, at least, that this doesn’t just happen inexplicably.
Lately, the infielder’s swing has been visibly uncomfortable at times. I am no mechanics expert, but there’s at least something off enough to make it noticeable. On the follow-through of his swing, and even as the bat crosses the plate sometimes, there seems to be a disconnect. In August I wrote about his trouble hitting non-fastballs, and how he seemed to be hesitating on them resulting in bad chases and weak contact. The problem I’m talking about now is in a similar vein. It would all seem to be related to timing and intent on swinging at certain pitches.
Regardless of the exact issue(s), the result is some pretty ugly swings. Here are a few whiffs Torres has had in the last couple of weeks:
The jaggedness on the second half of these swings is visible, and cannot be good grounds for productive contact (or any contact at all). His follow-through, along with the swing itself, seems cut down and disconnected. Notably, all of these follow-throughs are with one hand as well. This is not an inherently bad thing by any means, plenty of great hitters have a one-handed follow-through, it’s largely a matter of preference and circumstance. But, let’s look at a few great swings Torres had in June and July, when he was at his best this season:
These are no doubt impressive swings, showing some legit power the other way much of the time. It is also hard to ignore the fact that Torres has a two-handed follow-through on these swings. This is obviously not the case 100 percent of the time, and it doesn’t have to be, but these swings are Torres at his best. The motion as a whole is much more fluid, without that hitch on the back half.
It is worth noting too, that the majority of these are balls hit to the opposite field, so perhaps the visible struggles of late could be partially attributed to Torres being in a pull-happy mindset. Which again, is not an inherently bad thing, but the results of whatever it is he may be doing speak for themselves.
There are likely plenty of things to point to and pick apart in Gleyber Torres’ disparate halves of this season, even aspects like this which are visible to the naked eye. But as the Yankees continue to be bit by the injury bug and roll out a lineup that looks more and more like a AAA one, Torres finding his A-swing and returning to form becomes more and more vital. Hopefully, Sunday’s two-homer game is a sign of better things ahead.