Yankees have their long-term 2nd baseman after resurgent season

gleyber torres, yankees

While the 2022 season is far from over, the New York Yankees can be confident about their long-term plans at second base. Heading into the year, Gleyber Torres was following a similar path to that of Gary Sanchez, offensive degradation and defensive liabilities. However, Torres managed to turn things around, whereas Sanchez was traded to the Minnesota Twins along with Gio Urshela in exchange for a package of players.

Last season, Torres hit .259 with just nine home runs and 51 RBIs over 127 games. In just 54 games this season, Torres has already hit 12 homers with 28 RBIs, recording a 17.8% strikeout rate. While he’s not walking at the rate he once did with a career average of about 9%, he’s still getting on base 30% of the time, a number he’d like to improve.

The 25-year-old infielder is a free agent in 2025, so the Yankees have two more years of arbitration left, giving them team control. Offensively, Torres is ranking in the 92nd percentile in average exit velocity, 89th in hard-hit percentage, and 93rd in xSLG. He’s hit 12 homers. Only five have been pulled to left field, whereas seven have been slapped to right field, taking advantage of the shorter porch.

One of the more interesting stats points to a more aggressive version of Torres:

26% of Torres’ strikeouts were looking in 2021. That was only a hair above league average, but it was a drastic increase for him, after averaging 13.3% from 2018-’20. That kind of surge would suggest that, rather than becoming more patient, Torres had become more hesitant, and as a result, was more prone to getting locked up by hittable pitches. So far in 2022, just over 15% of his strikeouts have ended on called third strikes. (Via MLB.com)

New hitting coach Dillon Lawson has done a tremendous job taking advantage of Yankee Stadium, helping the righty batters open up their hips to hit opposite field.

“My swing is getting better and better. I’m working hard every day to be the way I want to be,” Torres said in May, when asked whether his swing has felt more like it used to. “But so far, so good.”

Batting was never Torres’s main struggle, though, it was his defensive efficiency. So far this season, Torres is posting the highest success rate of his career at 81% on throws. He also hosts a .984 fielding percentage at second base, above the league average of .981.

That clearly indicates Gleyber is now an above-average defender at his position and is carrying his weight offensively, which is exactly what the Yankees have been waiting patiently for. With his hard-hit numbers looking good and launch angle at a career-best 19.7°, he’s taking full advantage of the Yankees mantra: “hitting strikes hard.”

If Torres maintains this pace for the rest of the 2022 season, the Yankees can feel good about his presence at second base until he becomes a free agent at the very least.