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Gleyber Torres needs to maintain his opposite-field approach

With Torres driving the ball oppo, he can once again be one of the best hitting second baseman in the game.

San Francisco Giants v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Something that has always confused me is the constant talk about how Yankee Stadium is the perfect park for lefty power hitters. That, of course, is attributed to the short porch in right field. The counterargument to it is pretty clear to me though — if the hitter is already a power-hitting lefty, why the heck would they need a short porch? If anything, it’s most beneficial to softer hitting lefties like Didi Gregorius or Brett Gardner.

Now, thinking strictly for right-handed hitters, it’s ideal if you have a somewhat inside-out swing that puts your barrel in a position to hit the ball hard in the air to the opposite field. The first two that come to my mind without above-average opposite-field power are Derek Jeter and DJ LeMahieu. Neither was/is your typical bruiser but always had enough power to play with the short porch. The same could be said for Gleyber Torres.

Torres’ 75th-percentile max exit velocity puts him in a group well above average, but at a point where you expect he would mostly have pull side power. While he can definitely pull the ball with some force, he’s at his best when he is consistently driving the ball to right field. Below is a spray chart of all his home runs from 2022.

Out of Torres’ 24 total home runs, he had an even split to the pull side and opposite field. This type of line-to-line power isn’t common and is probably his most valuable skill.

But here’s the thing: Gleyber often puts himself in ruts where he isn’t consistently locked in on an opposite-field approach. If that’s the case, then you can take away all these oppo red dots and trade them for popups and groundballs. When he is lost at the plate, it’s due to him not staying corked in his back hip, coming undone too early, and cutting off his bat path. When he commits to the opposite-field approach, it does wonders for his pitch recognition and batted-ball profile.

Below is a table of Torres’ performance by month last season along with his opposite-field rate:

Gleyber Torres 2022 Splits

Month PAs Oppo% wRC+ BB%
Month PAs Oppo% wRC+ BB%
April 66 24.0% 94 4.5%
May 102 32.1% 126 4.9%
June 88 26.7% 131 10.2%
July 105 36.5% 134 7.6%
August 103 23.9% 28 2.9%
Sep/Oct 108 30.6% 172 10.2%

It’s a near-direct relationship between Gleyber performing well at the plate and consistently hitting the ball to the opposite field. It doesn’t take a deeper dive beyond the surface to realize this.

The direction that Torres’ swing path plays is catered towards hitting fastballs in the air to the opposite field. He sits on his back hip and rotates out of it, which then creates a steep plan that is on an upswing deeper in the hitting zone than the average hitter. As a result, he is able to let the ball travel and still elevate it.

Thanks to MLB’s new 3D swing path highlights, we are able to see exactly what that type of swing looks like. Here is the path Gleyber took to get to his home run on Opening Day:

I wish this maintained the view from behind for longer than it does, but even with the limitation, the 3D outline clearly shows how Torres’ entry into the zone creates an angle to drive the ball the other way. I’ll pair that with the actual video that provides you a few different angles.

Torres is more than capable of being one of the best handful of second baseman in the league because of the offensive juice he possesses. Aside from one month last year, he put together a solid season. If he can maintain his oppo stroke all year with a focused approach, the Yankees will be in a great position up the middle and Torres will assert himself into extension territory with the team.