During the last two seasons, New York Yankees’ infielder Gleyber Torres has been taking more walks than ever: he finished 2020 with a 13.8 percent walk rate, and it was 9.7 percent last year. The increased patience, however, didn’t do any good for him at the plate, as he had slumped badly in the pandemic season (.724 OPS) and last year (.697 OPS).
He lost his spot as the shortstop of the Yankees, and his future in the organization likely depends on his 2022 performance.
Determined to revive his career, the one that saw him hit 24 homers in 2018 and 38 in 2019, he went to work with new Yankees’ hitting coach Dillon Lawson and fellow coaches Casey Dykes and Hensley Meulens. He met with Lawson shortly after the season was over, in October, in Tampa, and chatted for two hours about his swing and how to optimize it by using analytics.
On Monday, he took advantage of a first-pitch fastball by new Detroit Tigers starter Eduardo Rodriguez and sent it to the stands for a homer. It’s clear that Gleyber has prioritized aggressiveness at the plate, because being patient often leads to being passive and missing out on lots of hittable pitches.
“Leading off, it’s like 95 percent [chance] you’ll get a fastball, and I know Rodriguez really well,” Torres said to MLB.com. “I’m just trying to get that opportunity to hit and do damage early. During the season, that’s the plan, to be aggressive every time. If I know the pitcher, for sure, I’ll be more aggressive.”
The Yankees are giving Torres all the tools to succeed
Torres is off to a hot start during spring training play, and it goes well beyond his philosophy. Execution, and swing mechanics, also come in to play, and the Yankees as an organization are giving him all the tools to succeed.
“I think he’s using his lower half a lot better,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I feel like his legs, his hip turn — when he’s at his best, it’s something that’s been a real strength for him. I feel like I’m seeing that in his batting practice and in the games. Foundationally, he’s in a better place than he’s been.”
“We’re on top of the little things,” Torres said. “I told him my routines, my swing, that I wanted to get the ball in the air. Too many numbers — fly balls, ground balls, I just want to change those things. We saw videos from two years ago, and I’m trying to be on the same page.”