The Yankees need their former All-Star to step up now

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals
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As the season progresses, former All-Star Gleyber Torres finds his prospects for a long-term contract with the New York Yankees in jeopardy unless he can reverse his current performance trends in the second half of the year.

Torres’ Struggles at the Plate

Torres is experiencing the most challenging season of his career with the Yankees, with batting averages slumping to .218 and an on-base percentage of .296. His slugging percentage has also plummeted to .338 despite hitting 77 home runs and driving in 29 RBIs, resulting in an 85 wRC+. This mass regression not only affects his batting average and on-base percentage but also his slugging and confidence, which have dramatically decreased as well.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles, gleyber torres
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Although historically inconsistent, Torres has demonstrated the potential that could make him an All-Star annually. His erratic performance, however, has become a familiar issue for the Yankees since his debut in 2018.

In stark contrast, Torres had a strong 2023 season, batting .273 with a .347 OBP and smashing 25 homers. His strikeout rate was impressively the lowest of his career at 14.6%, but this season it has escalated from 9% to 23.6%. This spike in strikeouts is a significant concern as it represents a regression from his previous year’s performance.

The Yankees Need Torres to Step Up

With Giancarlo Stanton sidelined for at least a month, the pressure is on Torres to step up. He needs to shift from being a liability to becoming a key offensive contributor. Despite his struggles, Torres has managed a .236 average with runners in scoring position this year, achieving a .303 OBP and .794 OPS.

However, his performance metrics are concerning. He ranks in the 6th percentile for expected batting average (.208) and 10th percentile for expected slugging (.338). Although he performs above average in chase rate and walk percentage, his barrel percentage is only in the 37th percentile, and his hard-hit rate is at a career-low 22nd percentile.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees, gleyber torres
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Potential Adjustments and Mental Hurdles

Interestingly, Torres has seen an increase in infield fly ball percentage to 14.9% this year, the highest in his career, with a launch angle of 18.1°, also a peak since his rookie year. This suggests he might be getting under the ball too much, resulting in easy outs.

Addressing his swing to create more drive rather than loft could be beneficial, but it seems his struggles are more mental than physical.

Defensively, Torres has logged 684 innings at second base this season with a .963 fielding percentage and -3 defensive runs saved, indicating another below-average defensive year. Unless Torres can improve dramatically, the Yankees might need to conclude the season accepting that their second baseman is more of a liability than an asset.

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