New York Yankees: 2020 is the year of Gleyber Torres

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

New York Yankees’ Gleyber Torres is one of the most talked-about players in the game, and along with the likes of Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna Jr, and other young flourishing talents in the MLB right now, is considered amongst the best of the best of the young MLB stars. With so much emphasis on the young talent in today’s era of baseball, having a player like Gleyber Torres on your team is a massive advantage.

2020 looks to be a fantastic season for the Yankees as a team, and expectations for players and overall team performances are through the roof right now. With that, there are a few Yankees players that everyone has their eyes on, and will throughout the entire season. A few of them are: Giancarlo Stanton, coming off an injury-plagued 2019 and looking to recement himself as a star in the game. Aaron Judge, who’s also coming off an injury-riddled 2019 & is supposedly entering his prime — age 28 season. The third name in terms of the Yankees’ “big three” is the aforementioned, Gleyber Torres. I expect Gleyber to put together a remarkable 2020 season, and the reasons all round out to having him atop the AL MVP voting.

ZiPS Projections over the next 5 Years for Gleyber Torres

2020 .905 41 26 136 4.6
2021 .945 44 27 146 5.1
2022 .943 44 27 145 5.1
2023 .961 47 27 150 5.4
2024 .961 47 26 150 5.4

Now, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections for Gleyber are out of this world good. When I look at these numbers, the most comparable player in terms of value would have to be Nolan Arenado. Arenado’s average OPS over the past five seasons with Colorado is .937, and he’s averaged roughly 40 HR a season, pairing with an average fWAR of 5.4 per season. Some people have their gripes over Arenado, from an offensive perspective, because he plays in Coors Field. While I don’t think the Coors Effect is THAT drastic on all-star caliber players like Arenado and Story specifically, the numbers do drop for Nolan on the road. Throughout his entire career, Arenado’s Home OPS is .995, to his Road OPS of .799. While Nolan is still a good hitter on the road, in the words of the late Kobe Bryant, at home, he’s “a different animal but still the same beast.”

The point is that Gleyber projects to be — essentially — Nolan Arenado levels of play, but without the Coors effect, and all before turning 28 years old. To have a player with that much talent and pure raw skill on your roster at his age is as almost unheard of.

Now, the one thing ZiPS doesn’t entirely account for is the fact that despite Gleyber’s excellent HR numbers, some of the advanced stats might say there’s some regression due. Gleyber’s HR/FB% was 21.5%, but his HH% was 39.7%, and his Average Exit Velocity (courtesy of Statcast) was only 89 MPH — for reference, his AVG Velo of 89 MPH ranked 182nd amongst qualified MLB players. With that, he still managed to hit 38 HR to feed into an SLG% of .535. I do expect Gleyber’s HR numbers to take a slight dip, especially since the juiced balls are probably done with, but even then, he’s a mid-to-high 30 HR shortstop with a dependable glove.

Gleyber’s defensive numbers

The one thing I am excited to keep an eye on, in regards to Gleyber having his best season to date this upcoming year, is seeing him in his natural position full-time. When in the minors, and even as an international prospect, Gleyber was regarded as an outstanding middle infielder with a quick glove and excellent range. However, over the past two seasons, Gleyber has been having to play 2B — the majority of the time — and hasn’t been nearly as valuable because of it. Here is a table comparing his defensive stats from both 2018 & 2019, and at both shortstop and second base (via Fangraphs):

YEAR (POS) 2018 (SS) 2018 (2B) 2019 (SS) 2019 (2B)
Innings 152.0 915.2 659.2 547.1
UZR/150 -21.5 -16.7 -4.7 -11.7
DRS 0 -1 1 -7
Errors 5 12 11 9

Gleyber, when allowed to play his natural position specifically in 2019, was a far more valuable player. To see what he’s also shown improvements over his first two seasons leads one to believe that he will continue to trend upward defensively. I imagine that this upcoming season, Gleyber will be one of the better defensive shortstops in the AL. I don’t think he’s going to — back to the Arenado comparison — be a platinum glove candidate, and make jaw-dropping plays seemingly every week. I do expect him to be an above-average defender that’s able to cover the ground and show some flash now and then. Pairing he and DJ LeMahieu, both at their natural and best positions, will benefit the Yankees massively this upcoming season.

2020 Expectations for Torres

There’s a genuine reason to believe that Torres will be the best Yankee player this next year. I am a massive believer in Aaron Judge, and I have always been an advocate that he should be a Yankee for life and captain this team going forward, but Gleyber can reach Judge’s level of impact. Gleyber has the galaxy as his ceiling right now, and there’s no telling what he is capable of achieving and accomplishing. Having him, along with numerous other talents on this roster, is going to bode well for the Yankees for the future.

With that, Gleyber’s 2020 should be one of the best by a shortstop in recent years. Even if he is to regress slightly in the HR total, he is very capable of OPSing .950 with 40 HR. The reasonable expectation, if I had to give one — .900 OPS / 37 HR / 4.7 fWAR — and that’s on the rather safe side. I genuinely do believe that Gleyber Torres is the game’s next Nolan Arenado, but without the atmospheric benefits. Look for Torres to continue on his quest toward greatness this upcoming season and make his case as the best shortstop in baseball.


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