New York Yankees Analysis: Once on the path to stardom, what happened to Gleyber Torres?

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres
Sep 23, 2018; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (25) at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have some problems losing in another postseason. One of those problems is Gleyber Torres at shortstop. There is no question that Gleyber Torres is deficient at short. But, what many miss is that Gleyber Torres never asked to follow in Derek Jeter’s footsteps. Being a team player, Torres agreed to play at short when the New York Yankees failed to bring back free agent Didi Gregorius.

Torres’s natural position is at second base, where he is not great but much better than he is at shortstop. Torres is young, very young, and has many years to grow into the Hall of Fame player many thought he would be. There is also no question that he hit a bump in the road this year when he failed at short and couldn’t seem to hit the ball. Well into the season, he was hitting at least 50 points below what he did in 2019. For those that have forgotten, Torres hit a team-high 39 homers in 2019.

In a year that saw many players not play to their potential, the Torres haters have to give him a break. Torres is a talented player for sure and was thrust into a position that was not natural to him. His poor play at short could also have affected his play at the plate. In the last days of the season in more particularly in the postseason, Torres showed the player he could be. In the postseason, he hit two home runs, that’s one less than he hit in the entire shortened regular season.

Gleyber Torres was born amongst the political strife, unrest, and violence of Caracas, Venezuela, in a middle-class family headed by Eusebio Torres and his mother, Ibelise. He is 22 years old. Gleyber started playing baseball at the age of four. He started in his early years as an outfielder, but shortstop was more suited to his game. His love of the game was propelled by watching games on TV.

In high school, he played both basketball and baseball, but his father got him to concentrate on just baseball. Many thought he had the capabilities of becoming a professional. At age 14, he enrolled in an academy with strong connections to baseball scouts. Shortly after that, he was sought out by the Chicago Cubs, and he signed a contract with them.

Fast forward to the year 2019, Torres was experiencing his second year with the Yankees. He was an All-Star in 2018 and on his way to being an All-Star in 2019 as well. On June 29, 2019, he hit the 39th home run of his short career. On August 2nd, he hit his second Grand Slam. To end his 2019 campaign, he batted .278 and led the New York Yankees with 38 home runs with 90 runs batted in. In his two years in the majors, he has been a New York Yankees All-Star twice and has received an MVP nomination. He finished the 2019 campaign ending up with 62 home runs for his three-year career and 167 RBIs. He was a sure bet to have a Hall of Fame type career.

Fast forward again to the coronavirus shortened baseball season. Had all the 2019 magic disappeared from that new guy at short? Well, it appears there were certainly some struggles that he has suffered, from both behind the plate and at his new position. Before Torres went on the IL with both calf and hamstring strains, he led the league in errors at short and was hitting just .231 with only one home run and a measly six RBIs.

On August 21, Torres went on the 10 day IL. In Baltimore against the Orioles, Gleyber Torres returned to the Yankee lineup. He had three at-bats and managed a double in the game. Hopefully, that was a good sign for Torres. In the Wild Card round, Torres hit an amazing home run with a .714 batting average in the postseason. In the ALDS, he hit another home run and batted .313.  One must keep in mind that the 24-year-old is still very young and has plenty of time to improve. One season does not make a career. This season may be a blip in his journey to becoming a Yankee star.

He has the full backing of New York Yankee manager Aaron Boone. After a game in August when Torres made two errors, Boone had this to say: “I think he’s doing well overall. He’s had a couple of hiccups game-wise that have dinged him statistically.”

If the New York Yankees can find a way to get Gleyber Torres back at his natural position, the pressure will be off him, and he might return to the player the New York Yankees hoped he would be.