The way the New York Yankees seem to be positioning themselves quite clearly at second base for 2020. The way things look, they’re planning to move Gleyber Torres over to shortstop, from second base, to make room for DJ LeMahieu getting more playing time at second.
This is a mistake.
Why is it a mistake?
Let’s start with the obvious. DJ is turning 31 next year. His ability to play the field will be starting to decline sooner rather than later. Gleyber Torres will be 23 next year. Gleyber’s prime as a fielder is approaching, making Gleyber the more viable fielder for the longer term than DJ. All of this is barring horrible injuries that force these guys to retire, but I would be bending myself over backward to ensure that the younger guy is going to be with my team longer than the older guy. And this is no disrespect to DJ, just stating that he’s far more susceptible to Father Time now than Gleyber.
Now let’s look at the defensive capabilities.
As I wrote before, DJ LeMahieu is a multiple Gold Glove winning second baseman. And everyone talks about how the New York Yankees moved Gleyber over to second form short to accommodate Didi Gregorius on the team. But Gleyber, on a major league level anyway, is a better defensive second baseman than he is a defensive shortstop.
What are Gleyber’s Splits Compared to LeMahieu’s?
Gleyber is still a baby by major league standards. He’s only 22 now and has only been playing for 2 years. But his splits are decidedly there.
He has a career fielding percentage at second of .969, and a career fielding percentage at short of .954. The league average at second is .982, and the league average at shortstop is .970. Now, LeMahieu has a career fielding percentage of .991 at second base and a career fielding percentage of… 0 at shortstop. So, yea, it would make sense to have Gleyber moved back to shortstop.
Except Tyler Wade has a perfect fielding percentage at shortstop in his major league career. And Didi Gregorius has a .979 fielding percentage for his career, which is about as long as DJ’s career.
Looking at the advanced metrics, Gleyber has saved 8 runs as a second baseman, while allowing 1 run as a shortstop. He has a greater range at second compared to shortstop, even looking at the fact he played more games at short last year than second,
When talking about the development of a young stud, you have to do what allows him to succeed. And he’s more likely to succeed at second than short. (baseball-reference.com
What About Thairo Estrada?
Thairo isn’t going to get much in the way of regular playing time at second base. It seems more likely than no that Estrada will be used as trade bait by the trade deadline, along with possibly Tyler Wade.
The only thing that benefits the New York Yankees is for Didi to be brought back, and DJ being spread around the field. You have to keep Gleyber Torres at second base. What’s good for Gleyber is good for the team.