Yankees: Gleyber Torres is heating up!

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

In 2020 and 2021, New York Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres wasn’t the same guy that hit 62 home runs between 2018 and 2019. He was passive, he didn’t show any game power, and he struggled mightily to get anything going at the plate; not to mention his defensive shortcomings at shortstop.

The Yankees’ new hitting coach Dillon Lawson worked with him in the offseason, and after a slow start, the results are starting to show this year. If you look at Gleyber’s line, you won’t see the performance of an All-Star…yet: .228/.267/.443 with four homers, a 107 wRC+ and a .310 wOBA.

But a look under the hood will tell you that the Yankees’ infielder is doing the right things. He is hitting the ball hard (at least at 95 mph) at a career-best rate, at 50 percent; and his average exit velocity is in the 89th percentile.

Judging by his quality of contact and his plate discipline, he has an expected wOBA of .390, making him one of the unluckiest players in baseball. His numbers will start increasing and improving in a hurry.

The Yankees wanted more aggressiveness from Torres

Lawson and the Yankees want Torres to be more aggressive, and that’s what he has been doing. And things are starting to click. His walk rate has decreased to 4.6 percent (compared to his career 9.0 percent mark), but now, he is not wasting any hittable pitches. His .215 isolated power is already pretty close to his 2018 and 2019 numbers, which is awfully encouraging.

Since April 21, Torres is slashing .295/.319/.568 with three homers, a .383 wOBA, and an excellent 159 wRC+. Ideally, he will get those walks a bit up, but if this is what works for Torres, the Yankees will gladly take a hitter with a high average and a healthy .273 isolated power.

All in all, Torres may not reach his 38-homer ceiling of 2019 (that was a “bouncy” ball, too), but his offseason work and approach adjustments may lead to 25 or 30 bombs if he plays every day. Again, the Yankees will gladly take that.

Rangers manager torches Yankees walk-off home-run: “That’s an easy out in 99% of ballparks”

chris woodward, rangers, yankees

In the first game of the doubleheader on Sunday afternoon, the New York Yankees took on the Texas Rangers after missing two consecutive days due to inclement weather. They stole the first game of the afternoon thanks to a Gleyber Torres’s 9th inning home run. However, Torres took advantage of a short right porch to help get the ball over the fence, but it had enough legs to clear most outfield walls in Major League Baseball.

Texas manager Chris Woodward took a shot at Yankee Stadium after the double-header, specifically because of its short right porch. The problem with that argument is that every other team in baseball can take advantage, but it is a big benefit for the Yankees since they actively try to find left-handed hitters to capitalize.

“That’s an easy out in 99% of ballparks… He just happened to hit it in a Little League ballpark.”

After Yankees manager Aaron Boone heard about Woodward’s comments, he had a response of his own, indicating that his math is a bit off.

The truth is, Torres’s home run would’ve been out of the park in 26 of 30 stadiums. The ball traveled 369 feet. It does open up an interesting storyline for how other managers perceive Yankee Stadium and the advantage it gives in right field.

Nonetheless, the Yankees won 2–1 in Game 1 but dropped the second game 4–2, wasting a solid Jordan Montgomery performance. Monty allowed four hits and two runs over 6.0 innings. The offense simply wasn’t able to get going, tallying just three hits in the final game of the doubleheader.

The Bombers will now look ahead to Monday at 1:05 PM with Nestor Cortes on the mound. Cortes features a 1.82 ERA. Texas will feature Jon Gray as their starter, who hosts a 7.50 ERA over 12 innings, allowing 11 hits and two homers over that sample size.

The Yankees may have found their long-term 2nd baseman

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

Going into the 2022 season, the New York Yankees were unsure who their starting second baseman would be. Of course, DJ LeMahieu makes the most sense given his large sample size of adequate defensive play, but field manager Aaron Boone committed to Gleyber Torres after Brian Cashman acquired Isiah Kiner-Falefa from the Minnesota Twins.

Kiner-Falefa has performed extremely well after a tough first week wearing pinstripes, but he has played sufficiently despite a few errors. Torres has taken over full-time at second base, given a few days off here and there to maintain his stamina and health.

On Monday, the Yankees saw why Torres is an essential piece to their strategy, coming in clutch at the top of the 9th inning to slap an opposite-field single to right field, driving in speedster Tim Locastro for the leading run.

“It’s special,” Torres said. “Every time when I do my little things and help my team to win, that is great to me. I just grab every opportunity I have and try to do the best I can for the team.”

Torres has elevated his batting average significantly over the past few weeks, sitting at .239 with a 17.1% strikeout rate and 4.3% walk rate. Showing a bit more patience at the plate will be a priority moving forward, but he’s finally hitting his stride and seeing the ball more efficiently. In the past four games, Torres has recorded five hits and six RBIs, including two homers over 15 at-bats.

Defensively, Torres hosts a perfect feeling percentage, posting 24 putouts and 34 assists over 128 innings this year. If Torres can continue to improve and show production over the entire season, the Yankees can confidently commit to him as a long-term solution at second base.

It wasn’t too long ago when Gleyber hit .278 with 38 homers back in 2019, establishing himself as a premier hitter in the MLB. His fall-off has been polarizing, but that talent simply doesn’t disappear, it has remained dormant. If he can tap into that level of production and find his groove once again, the Yankees will be in great shape, especially at the bottom of their order with Torres, Kiner-Falefa, and the catching duo of Kyle Higashioka and Jose Trevino.

Yankees’ Aaron Boone has interesting response to benching Gleyber Torres

yankees, gleyber torres

The New York Yankees have had a myriad of inconsistent players this season, despite only being 13 games into the year. Hosting a record of 7-6, the Bombers are coming off a series win against the Detroit Tigers, losing the final game of the series by a score of 3-0. Being blanked by Detroit, their first of the season, is quite embarrassing. Failure to produce run support has been one of the team’s biggest downfalls.

Aside from Joey Gallo, who had been more of a liability than a strong suit, the Yankees have also recently limited second-baseman Gleyber Torres’s playing time. This season, Torres has earned a dismal .167 average, producing just six hits over 36 at-bats. At least he’s curated two RBIs, more than the fat zero Gallo has contributed.

However, Torres’s impact has been lessened recently, especially with DJ LeMahieu starting the year strong in the batter’s box. Torres has tallied just one hit in his last 16 at-bats, a number the Bombers simply can’t roll with, given their desperate need for more offensive production.

Despite being benched, field manager Aaron Boone stated that he “wouldn’t read too much” into the decision to keep him out of the lineup, also adding that Torres was “maybe a little off the last few games.”

Boone came to Gleyber’s defense, backing up his swing and the progress he’s made.

“I think he’s in a good place,’’ Boone said. “All spring, I liked where his swing was at and what I feel like he was getting back to driving the ball more.”

“He’ll get there,’’ Boone said. “He made the necessary adjustments this spring. The biggest thing last year was that he didn’t hit for power like in the past, but still did good things and finished strong for us. I absolutely know that’s in there for him. We’ve just got to pull it out.”

Torres smacked 38 homers back in 2019, showcasing incredible power, but has failed to replicate those numbers since. His slugging metrics haven’t changed much from his two dominant campaigns, but he’s simply not making the same contact. It’s possible the change in ball design has impacted his power, considering Brett Gardner smashed 28 homers back in 2019 as well.

Yankees face serious problem at shortstop after first 10 games of season

isiah kiner-falefa, yankees

The New York Yankees currently host a 5–5 record on the season, but their issues appear to be very similar to the 2021 campaign. General manager Brian Cashman made it clear that the team needed to upgrade the shortstop position, but after the first 10 games of the regular season, there is no sign of improvement, despite trading for Isiah Kiner-Falefa from the Minnesota Twins.

Kiner-Falefa was a priority for Cashman, who believed his contact-hitting and better defensive traits would translate to above-average shortstop play, but he’s been replaced on multiple occasions this season due to inefficiency.

The expectation was that Gleyber Torres would move back to second base, despite DJ LeMahieu being a far better player at the position. LeMahieu has moved around the infield, being used as a super-utility man to supplement a myriad of issues. However, field manager Aaron Boone has called upon Torres to play shortstop multiple times this season, already making two appearances at the position over four innings.

The more interesting shift has been pinch-hitting Kiner-Falefa in big moments, which the Yankees hoped they could avoid considering his .271 batting average last season.

From an objective standpoint, the shortstop position remains a significant problem, and the Yankees missed out on an opportunity to land Carlos Correa on a short-term deal, having signed with the Twins this off-season. By most accounts, Cashman struck out on multiple fronts, failing to upgrade SS and going into the season without an extension for Aaron judge.

There’s a legitimate question to be asking regarding Torres and his value to the team, given he’s hitting .161 this year with one homer over 36 play appearances. Of course, the season is young, but Torres struggled similarly with his power last year, hitting just nine homers over 127 games compared to 38 over 144 in 2019. Looking at his slugging metrics, Torres’s wOBA sits at just .247 this year, a career-low. His barrel percentage is down 1.1% compared to 2019, despite his exit velocity increasing.

The analytics simply don’t tell the full story with Torres, who may be facing mental hurdles rather than physical and fundamental ones.

However, Kiner-Falefa is a whole different ball game, considering he’s barely effective as a power hitter. In fact, he recorded a 1.8% barrel rate last year and hit just 28.6% in the hard-hit percentage category. With a measly exit velocity of just 85.5 mph, the Yankees shouldn’t expect Kiner-Falefa to be an impact player in the home run category but rather to get on base frequently and provide RISP.

The issue is that neither Falefa nor Torres have shown the consistency and production the Yankees desperately need. Both have dropped to the back-end of the batting order, a section that has plagued the team’s offense to start the year.

The Yankees could trade one of their promising young players if struggles continue

gleyber torres, yankees

Whether it be a bad omen or the baseball gods demanding reparations for the Yankees‘ past success, developing home-grown talent has been challenging to come by over the past few seasons. While the team has plenty of exciting young prospects climbing the system, they’ve failed miserably to turn their promising players into legitimate stars, given they recently traded Gary Sanchez away to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for stop-gap solutions.

General manager Brian Cashman may be approaching a time where trading Gleyber Torres is a possibility, given he’s fallen off tremendously since his stellar rookie and sophomore seasons.

Torres hit .271 back in 2018 with 24 homers, backing it up with a .278 average and 38 homers in 2019 — All-Star caliber numbers. However, ever since the Covid-abbreviated 2020 season, Torres has been a shell of his former self. He clearly lacks confidence at the plate, and he’s not hitting the ball with the same gusto he once possessed. His barrel rate has dropped a whole percent, if not more, compared to his first two seasons (9.2% –> 7.8% in 2021).

That didn’t stop the Yankees’ hitting coach from making a claim that Torres was back to his old self this spring.

“I think he’s back to where he was a few years ago, when he was using the whole field,” hitting coach Dillon Lawson said several weeks ago. “He’s done fine the past couple years going to right-center, but the way he’s going to right-center right now is with authority. And it’s not in a way that limits him to the pull side. That’s stuff from ’18 and ’19.”

So far this year, Torres is hitting .161 with one homer. He’s currently on a four-game hitless streak, leaving little to no offensive impression on a team that just lost two out of three games against the Baltimore Orioles.

At some point, the Yankees need to make a decision on Gleyber’s future. He’s showed some prowess defensively at 2nd base, but that isn’t nearly enough to retain his job as a starter, given DJ LeMahieu is a far better defender and could replace his value in seconds.

There’s a debate to be had that Torres could lose his starting job early in the season if he continues to falter at this rate. He currently hosts a 25% strikeout rate, his highest since 2018. While the season is young, there’s a big sample size suggesting that Torres may be overrated, and trading him could be the best course of action, especially if Cashman finds himself in need of pitching support later on in the season.

Yankees: Aggressiveness is the key to unlock Gleyber Torres’ hitting potential

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

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.”

Yankees change Gleyber Torres’s position in unique defensive look

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

While the MLB has banned the shift, the New York Yankees are still looking into a variety of different formations they can deploy to help improve defensive efficiency.

Opposing teams have used a unique strategy against the Yankees in the past, having a heavy right-hand hitting lineup. With opposite-field hitting not exactly a strength for the Bombers, teams have put four outfielders in position, taking an infielder out from the weak side and filling in gaps in the outfield.

Field manager Aaron Boone has tested the idea using second baseman Gleyber Torres in that way. Torres featured as the fourth outfielder in right field during a spring training game on Monday against the Detroit Tigers.

Evidently, the Tigers’ hitter flew out to Miguel Andujar in left field. While I wouldn’t expect to see this formation frequently, the Yankees could use it against specific batters who have a high rate of hitting the ball toward a specific part of the outfield.

“We’ve flirted with it a little bit and almost done it a couple times, but felt like we didn’t have the personnel quite right [in the past],” manager Aaron Boone said. “But we have been a little more committed to the thought of it this spring.”

The Yankees are trying to extrapolate on their talent, utilizing Torres at several different spots. Having failed the shortstop experiment last year, Torres will transition back to second base, where he features a far more efficient fielding percentage. Throughout his career, Torres has a .971 success rate at second and .950 at shortstop.

Offensively, Torres has looked great this spring, hitting .421 with eight hits and two homers over just 19 at-bats.

Yankees: Great Gleyber Torres news could fuel a resurgent 2022 season

yankees, gleyber torres

The demise of Gleyber Torres has been a polarizing situation for the New York Yankees, but there is hope he can fuel a resurgence this upcoming season with revitalized hitting mechanics.

After an electrifying 2019 season where he hit .278 with 38 homers and 90 RBIs, Torres has been unable to recapture that form. Over 127 games last season, Torres posted a .259 average with nine homers, down significantly from his 2019 campaign.

However, new Yankees hitting coach Dillon Lawson believes Torres may find his stride once again.

“I think he’s back to where he was a few years ago, when he was using the whole field,” Lawson said, per Dan Martin of the New York Post. “He’s done fine the past couple years going to right-center, but the way he’s going to right-center right now is with authority. And it’s not in a way that limits him to the pull side. That’s stuff from ’18 and ’19.”

So far this spring, Torres is batting .462 with a .692 slugging percentage. Over five games, Torres has six hits, one homer, and three RBIs. His mechanics and base look a lot cleaner, utilizing his lower half power once again, which has transformed his approach.

“It’s about the way he loads his lower body,’’ Lawson said. “He’s always been aggressive and a lot of people can’t do it the way he does it. But he can and he’s embracing that. He’s not running away from what makes him good.”

Torres is still trying to find consistency, but a strong start to spring training shows that he’s capable of much more.

“I’m trying to be more in control with that,” Torres said. “Last year, I hit too many ground balls trying to pull the ball. Now I want to stay in control and hit the ball right up the middle, the same as I did before.”

Last year, Torres posted a 20.2% strikeout rate and 9.7% walk rate. His patience was slightly better at the plate, but if he can couple that with mind-blowing power and contact hitting, he could be invaluable to the Yankees moving forward.

Interestingly, his slugging percentage dropped significantly compared to his 2019 numbers, but his max exit velocity increased from 109.6 to 111.6. His barrel percentage decreased to 7.8%, a 1.6% decrease in that timeframe. Torres also featured a career-high ground ball percentage at 41.5%, excluding the 2020 season when he played just 42 games.

His home run to fly-ball ratio landed at just  6.9% last year, whereas it was hovering around 21.5% in 2019. In addition, his hard-hit percentage dropped like a rock to 25.8% from nearly 40%. Altogether, he lost complete control of his power through his lower body, which is precisely what Dillon Lawson is trying to correct.

Yankees could flip Gleyber Torres in trade if they sign the last great shortstop on the market

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The New York Yankees have already renewed their interest in a potential shortstop signing in free agency. After missing out on Carlos Correa, who signed a three-year, $103.5 million deal with the Minnesota Twins, general manager, Brian Cashman could immediately shift his attention to Trevor Story, the last remaining great shortstop on the market.

Despite the fact the Yankees have already acquired Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the trade with Minnesota, they may have a different infield combination in mind, which could be at the expense of Gleyber Torres. Kiner-Falefa, who is just 26 years old, has experience playing multiple infield spots, including third base and second base.

At the Major League level, Kiner-Falefa has 925 innings of experience on the hot corner but has predominantly featured at shortstop during his four-year professional career.

However, the Yankees could feel confident that Kiner-Falefa would hold down the hot corner sufficiently, recording a .962 fielding percentage at the position and accruing 12 errors. Alternatively, they have Josh Donaldson on the roster, but he only played 92 games in the field last season — he could fit a designated hitter role more predominantly moving forward.

If that is the case, the Yankees could easily swoop in and sign Story, who is coming off a solid year with Colorado, hitting .251 with 24 homers and 75 RBIs.

Story isn’t only a quality power hitter, but he also provides phenomenal defensive qualities. Last season, Story recorded a .975 fielding percentage at shortstop over 1175 innings, totaling 14 errors and 85 double plays turned. Some are concerned about Story’s arm strength moving forward, but he would only serve a stopgap role until Anthony Volpe is ready to make the jump to the big leagues.

What should the Yankees do with Gleyber Torres if they do end up signing Story?

Torres has had an up-and-down career up to this point, hitting just nine homers last year over 127 games. Back in 2019, Torres smacked 38 homers, and the Yankees desperately need him to return to that version of himself.

Defensively, they’ve already had to exile him from shortstop, moving him back to second base where he has better success. However, Torres features a .971 fielding percentage at a position where DJ LeMahieu features a .991 fielding percentage, an astronomical difference. It would be borderline malpractice not to host DJ at second.

If the Yankees do end up going that route, flipping Torres in a package deal for a starting pitcher would be a perfect sequence of events. Torres is projected to earn $4 million this upcoming season and an estimated $5.75 million in 2022. Considering the Oakland Athletics are trying to bring in low price players/prospects, Torres might not fit the bill for Sean Manaea or Frankie Montas. Maybe the Cincinnati Reds would be intrigued by a bigger haul for Luis Castillo, who’s coming off another solid campaign in 2021.

While sending Torres on his way would be tough, the Yankees need more starting pitching support, and adding a big name like Castillo or either of Oakland’s starters would give them a World Series caliber rotation.