When Didi Gregorius went down with a shoulder injury, it sounded like a big deal. Even though the Yankees had ample options to replace him with, anytime you lose a player who hit .276/.304/.447 with 20 home runs the season before, you end up missing him. The team took the easiest route possible by using Ronald Torreyes as his replacement, and while he has certainly seen some success, he is still making them miss Gregorius.
So far in the young season, Torreyes has been the team’s worst regular hitter. Greg Bird might have struggled up until recently, but you can write some of it off due to a foot injury. Torreyes is hitting only .250/.250/.425 with no walks, but he’s found enough power to provide some value with 10 RBI so far. His 83 wRC+ isn’t exactly good, but it could certainly be a whole lot worse for a bench player forced to play every day.
Where Torreyes really isn’t doing the team any favors is in the field. While he has a reputation for being a solid and versatile defender, Torreyes has actually looked incredibly shaky at shortstop so far this year. This was on full display during the series with the Cardinals, where it seemed like every ball hit to short resulted in a play where he had trouble getting the ball out of his glove.
On more than once occasion, he’s looked good ranging to catch up to a ball on the ground, but once he has it, he’s shown very little skill in converting the play into an out. Either he can’t get the ball out of his glove cleanly, resulting in a double play not being turned, or his throw to first or second is subpar. The issue became clear when he nearly threw the ball away on Sunday after a nice diving stop. He threw from his knees but the ball hit the ground, causing Starlin Castro to handle it poorly.
The season is too young to adequately display what is going on for him in the field, but there are still signs to point to. Torreyes is already at 91 innings played at short this year, which is one full game away from his total for the entire 2016 season, and right now he’s at the same -1 defensive runs saved he had last year. He is also now at a -1 when it comes to the runs he has saved on double plays. Like I said, there isn’t enough data yet for a lot of other numbers to register, but what we do have definitely back up what I’m seeing with my eyes.
This is all not to say that Didi Gregorius is a savior out there himself. Advanced fielding stats have never been kind to him outside of a strong 2015 season. Last year, he apparently cost the Yankees nine runs, though I’m not convinced that is a fair representation of his actual skill, since defensive statistics aren’t the most precise. Sure, Didi makes his fair share of errors and misplays, but his bat helps to even things out. He’s also far more sure-handed than Torreyes.
This shakiness has not cost the Yankees a game yet, but the longer he stays out there, the more likely it is that something bad will happen eventually. Maybe he isn’t able to turn a key double play that allows a winning run to score. This is why we need Gregorius back sooner than later. He can take charge of his position once again, and Torreyes can go back to providing key depth on the bench.