Gleyber Torres: Explosive Bat, Below Average Base Running and Defense

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

Gleyber Torres, a 22-year-old second baseman and shortstop from Caracas, Venezuela, stunned the baseball universe in 2018 with his flashy personality and good-natured attitude. Torres slashed .271/.340/.480/.820 with a .349 wOBA and a 121 wRC+. His stat sheet also included 24 HR and 77 RBI in 484 plate appearances. He was also an All-Star, All-Rookie Team and Rookie of the Month in May.

In 2016, Torres played in Scottsdale, Arizona and Tampa, Florida, gaining exposure at a rapid pace and receiving numerous awards and honors. To name off a few, he was awarded All-Prospect Team, Most Valuable Player and Rising Stars. This trend continued in 2017, as Torres slashed .287/.383/.480/.863 in 235 plate appearances with Double-A Trenton Thunder and Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

In 2018, Torres continued to improve on his craft and inched ever so closer to the majors. With Single-A Tampa Tarpons and Triple-A Scranton, Torres slashed .345/.403/.500/.903 in 67 plate appearances. At this point in his minor league career, Torres was more than prepared for the majors and deserved to shine in the spotlight. On April 22, 2018, he made his debut vs the Toronto Blue Jays. Although Torres didn’t make an immediate impact, going 0 for 4, time itself would eventually get the last laugh.

Fast forward to Sep. 16, 2019. In 558 plate appearances, Torres is hitting .284/.344/.544/.889 with a .365 wOBA and a 129 wRC+. Among qualified second basemen and shortstops, Torres is leading the majors with a whopping 36 homers and has added 91 RBI to his collection. To make this achievement sound even more remarkable, Torres is only in the 47 percentile range for exit velocity and 34 percentile range for hard-hit %.

Torres is also outperforming his peripherals. For example, he is expected to finish the season with a .265 BA, .492 SLG, and a .350 wOBA, but possesses a .287 BA, .550 SLG and a .373 wOBA. His BA has increased by .022 points and his wOBA by .023 points. SLG is the important stat to note, as it has increased by .058, which is quite a drastic spike.

Torres is a scorching-hot tank and continues to produce offensively, but he is not at his full potential. It’s blatantly obvious that his baserunning and defensive abilities are below average at best. The question that continues circulating around social media? Why is Torres below average at baserunning and defense?

Let’s begin with his baserunning abilities. This season, Torres has obtained a -0.6 BsR, which includes stolen bases and times caught stealing. He has stolen 5 bases this season but has been caught stealing twice. Diving deeper into analytics, Torres has a -0.7 UBR, which doesn’t include stolen bases and times caught stealing, 0.2 wGDP and a -0.1 wSB. If your brain is already melting from the inside out, bear in mind that all of this information is important.

League averages are beneficial when attempting to value a player and his production. As discussed earlier, Torres has a -0.6 BsR. According to Fangraphs, 0.4 BsR is the league average. Still, need evidence? Torres has a -0.7 UBR and a -0.1 wSB. The league average? 0.4 UBR and a 0.0 wSB. While these stats aren’t atrocious by any means, Torres is without a doubt, below average at base running.

The video below shows some examples of why Torres is a below-average base runner. It’s extremely easy to remember the highlight reels, but difficult to remember each individual mistake a player commits in a season.

Now for his defensive abilities, which have been a major drawback this season. Among fielders with over 1000.0 innings played, Torres has committed 16 errors, which is well below average. Rafael Devers, Jean Segura, Jorge Polanco and Willy Adames are the only fielders with more errors in the league. Although an increasing amount of errors doesn’t equal productivity, it’s important to understand that errors, along with fielding percentage, are not the best tools to utilize when valuing defense. Fielding percentage will be discussed in greater detail in a moment.

Just as we did with base running, let’s examine advanced fielding stats. At second base, Torres has obtained a -4 DRS, .615 RZR, -2.1 UZR and a -8.1 UZR/150. At shortstop, Torres has obtained a 0 DRS, .748 RZR, -2.0 UZR and a -4.8 UZR/150. If we take a glimpse at the league averages, among qualified second basemen, -9 DRS, .733 RZR, 3.5 UZR, and a 0.1 UZR/150 are listed. Among qualified shortstops, 0 DRS, .750 RZR, 2.0 UZR, and a 0.1 UZR/150 are listed.

Just like base running, Torres is below average in every category as a second baseman. As far as shortstops are concerned, he is average when DRS is mentioned, but every other stat across the board clarifies that he is below average. In general, Torres is a below-average fielder but is a much more sufficient shortstop than a second baseman.

As far as fielding percentage is concerned, Torres has a .970 fielding percentage as a second baseman and a .967 fielding percentage as a shortstop this season. Fielding percentage is a subset of misplays. Measuring defense strictly on the basis of assists, putouts and errors ignore a significant chunk of defense. Just as I stated earlier, poor fielding percentage and errors are not qualified by any means, but should not be a common denominator when evaluating defense.

Just as I did for Torres’ base running, here is a video showcasing a few of many errors he has committed on the baseball diamond. Remember that the eye test can be deceiving and doesn’t paint the full picture of a story.

Do I believe that Torres can improve on his baserunning and defensive abilities? Of course, I do. He is only 22 years old and has an endless amount of connections disposed at his fingertips. He is an extraordinary player who is gifted and has the potential to be one of the greatest players of this generation. The only obstacle holding him back is his baserunning and fielding skills.

If you’re interested in learning more, here are some helpful links that will lead you in the right direction:

Baseball-Reference

Baseball Savant

Errors and Fielding Percentage

Fangraphs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees: Luis Severino is back and ready to go

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

Luis Severino of the New York Yankees has not stepped on a major league mound all season with a right lat injury. Well, the wait is finally over and he’s expected to make his 2019 debut Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels.

“It’s going to open a lot of doors for us,” said Luis Severino. “…we are going to get our ace Severino back. We are going to be able to switch a couple (of) things around. If you start with Severino and come in with (Domingo) German, you got two aces right there. Not a lot of teams are going to want to face those guys.”

Severino has made three rehab starts where it looks like the Yankees have their ace back. His velocity is back to upper-90s and his breaking ball is looking sharp.

“I am very excited about that. It’s been a long wait, but it happened,” said Severino last Friday before their game against the Blue Jays. “I’m happy that I’m healthy and I’m going to be able to help my team.”

Catcher Austin Romine said it best, “We’re getting our guy back.”

The New York Yankees have not made a decision on what role Severino will fill when he returns. He’s expected to start Tuesday but a bullpen role could be on the horizon for him.

“This will help our bullpen, too, if you start with Sevy and then German that shortens it so the bullpen doesn’t have to be used as often, we can have matchups or give relievers more rest,” said Judge. “I’m excited.”

Manager Aaron Boone agrees, “We’ll probably be a little creative. I would just say it is all on the table. We feel like we have a lot of really good pitchers, and we are going to go into the postseason with whether it’s 11, 12, 13 pitchers, that we feel are capable of getting really important outs. We are probably going to need all of them. So, we’ll try and prepare guys for anything and everything, and hopefully, that will serve us well.”

Severino was dealing with right lat and shoulder inflammation all season. His rehabbing was inconsistent which caused confusion on a return date.

Last year, Severino was 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA. Fans remember his clutch performance during the 2017 postseason when the Yankees were facing elimination in game three against the Cleveland Indians.

Tyler Wade’s Value With the New York Yankees

New York Yankees, Tyler Wade

The New York Yankees have had more production from triple-A callups and bench guys from any other team this season. Among those players, Tyler Wade has been one of the most significant guys for the team. Between his athleticism and strong defensive, Wade is a guy that the Yankees can pretty much call on in any situation.

Quality baserunning is overlooked during this home run era. A stolen base in a tight game during the postseason can mean so much. Tyler Wade is that guy who the Yankees can count on to snag a bag or score from second consistently.

Wade doesn’t have the most pop but can move a guy over or hit one through the gap. Working on his swing down in triple-A, Wade improved his contact percentage significantly. Having a quality lefty bat in the lineup is something the Yankees could benefit from, especially heading into the postseason.

A player with many positions is so valued in the major leagues. Primarily a shortstop, Wade can be thrown out into the outfield and play like an All-Star. He just looks so comfortable in any spot he’s put in, and that doesn’t go unnoticed by the club.

Besides his physical talent, Wade is a guy that the team loves to have in the clubhouse. He’s easy-going and can keep things light. Take a look at this Instagram post and then the comments from the Yankee players:

View this post on Instagram

When gardy says he’s faster 🤷🏻‍♂️😂

A post shared by Tyler Wade (@tylerwade) on

Wade is a five-tool player should easily make the postseason roster. His speed, defensive talent, and quality lefty bat are so important in the playoffs.

New York Yankees: Why Tyler Wade Will Make the Roster Over Clint Frazier

With camp breaking on Sunday for an exhibition in Washington on Monday, the New York Yankees will likely be forced to decide on a final position player spot in the coming days. Aaron Hicks going down with the injury makes it look as if both Luke Voit and Greg Bird will be on the opening day roster, but nothing is 100% yet. However, two players are fighting for a roster spot indirectly, in Tyler Wade and Clint Frazier.

Tyler Wade has had a way better spring, and has a lot more versatility, making him a better fit on the roster. Frazier still has some work to do on the little things, but should still see time in the big leagues as the 26th man, for injuries, and come the roster expansion in September if healthy.

What Wade brings to the table

Tyler Wade is a very versatile infielder that can play some outfield who has been raking this spring. He has bat .333 with a home run, and his slugging percentage is at .571. Wade is also very speedy and has stolen three bags so far. His fielding skills are above average, and is primarily a middle infielder but played centerfield for the Yankees last season on a few occasions.

His versatility is what the Yankees love, knowing they can plug him into the lineup in several different positions. Plus, his speed is something the team wants to use for pinch running when he doesn’t start.

What Frazier brings to the table

Clint Frazier has struggled mightily this spring, but some may be from rust. He has just six hits in 40 at-bats. However, he has had more success at the major league level and cracked a walk-off home run in 2017. Frazier has a lot of power, good speed, and a good glove. But because of his struggles so far, it would be best to start him in AAA to polish up mechanics and work off the rust. The more he plays, the better he should too and the better his stats will be.

If Tyler Wade starts this season like he did last season, his time in the MLB may be short and Frazier could come up fast. But, something to watch out for is that Wade is starting to run low on options, and the team needs to limit how freely they send him up and down.

New York Yankees: How Concerned Should We Be About Luis Severino’s Injury?

On Monday, the New York Yankees presumed ace Luis Severino was scratched from his first spring start due to what the team called “rotator cuff inflammation” and will be shut down for two weeks. Yankees skipper Aaron Boone said that it is “highly unlikely” that Severino will start the season with the team, forcing the Yankees to look for a new opening day starter. Severino was warming up in the bullpen and felt pain in his shoulder at about 1PM, 10 minutes prior to first pitch.

With Severino likely not on the 25 man roster to start the season, this leaves the fifth starting pitcher position wide open. Plus, how severe is Severino’s injury anyway? We’ll look into all of it right now.

Yankees: Severino’s concern level

From what we hear, the Yankees are not particularly concerned about Severino…. yet. When he had his MRI Tuesday, the results came back quite clean. With that being said, he should be cleared after two weeks if his shoulder isn’t hurting. No Tommy John surgery has been recommended, but if he continues to have pain after the two weeks, the team will grow more concerned.

The plan is to begin a throwing program after the two weeks, then get him some in-game action before camp breaks and the team heads to Washington for an exhibition. My guess is that he would spend a week or two in extended spring training before going to Trenton and/or Scranton for a few rehab stints. Remember, CC Sabathia is also a few weeks behind due to his offseason heart surgery and will also likely not be on the opening day roster.

Options from free agency

When talking about free-agents, two names come into the minds of Yankees fans: Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez.

In 2018, Dallas Keuchel had a rather down season, his ERA at 3.74 in just over 200 innings. A lot of people thought that the Yankees might push towards him more than signing JA Happ or acquiring James Paxton. But the team didn’t and now heading towards the middle part of March and spring training, he remains a free-agent.

Gio Gonzalez had an ERA last season of 4.21, but remained effective with a 10-11 record in just over 170 innings. Gonzalez, now 33, was a former first round draft pick in 2004. He could still be a fit for any team, and his stats show those of an average fifth starter.

But which one is the better option? In my opinion, Gonzalez is. Gonzalez is older than Keuchel and is now fit to be a five starter, and will not want a whole lot of money. Keuchel was the Astros number one starter just a few years ago, but is now settling as more of a two or three starter.

If Keuchel was available after the 2019 season, the Yankees would jump right on board with him, but they have a solid rotation when healthy. Signing Keuchel would be expensive, and would force the Yankees to really rearrange their pitching staff once everyone is healthy. With Gonzalez, you can DFA or release him and not lose much of anything for your team or salary.

In-house options

The Yankees have a few guys who could replace both Severino and CC in the first few weeks of the season.

Luis Cessa is the first name Yankee fans jump to. Cessa hasn’t had it that great so far in the big leagues, an ERA a bit under five and a 5-11 record. He is slowly improving, but the problem is that he’s out of options. If he starts in the MLB this season, to send him to Scranton they must DFA him and hope he clears waivers.

Domingo German struggled last year for the Yankees, making some starts for injured pitchers in the springtime. His ERA was over 5.50 and won just two games in 14 starts. But his start this spring has been promising, giving up no runs thus far in 4 2/3 innings.

Jonathan Loaisiga, or “Jonny Lasagna” also made a few starts last season, but had an ERA over five despite going 2-0. He definitely needs some more work, and got hammered on Tuesday against the Cardinals, giving up four runs in 2 1/3 innings.

It remains unknown how the Yankees will fill Severino’s hole to start the season, but either way the team goes, there are options.