Gleyber Torres has not been up to par this season, but the Yankees need him to turn it around in the second half.
The New York Yankees are currently on the outside looking in as far as a playoff spot goes. By the time we reach the nitty gritty in September the team and their fans expect to be fighting for a chance to play October baseball.
They will in all likelihood be buyers at the deadline like they usually are, but buying at the deadline doesn’t always pan out the way you might hope. At the end of the day, you have to rely on the guys in the clubhouse right now.
One of the guys they really need to turn it around is Gleyber Torres.
Gleyber Torres is primed for a bounce back second half
The Yankees’ young shortstop has had a calendar year he would very much like to forget. He struggled all of 2020 during a pandemic shortened season, but managed to salvage his season with a 106 wRC+. That’s a far cry from his previous two seasons, but you can give him a pass because players across the league had down years.
Unfortunately, the problems have bled into the 2021 season. Torres’ power has suddenly disappeared and it was becoming a serious problem considering he hit 62 home runs with a .235 ISO in his first 267 games.
From the start of the 2020 season up until the 2021 All-Star break Torres had a .241/.336/.301 slash line with a .084 ISO, which won’t get the job done for anyone, especially a player of his caliber.
The problem, believe it or not, was that Torres was actually making too much contact – more specifically poor contact. Torres had essentially swapped power for plate discipline, and while plate discipline is important to be a good hitter, it’s not going to do you any favors if you lean on it too much.
You can swing and miss and be a productive hitter, and ever since Aaron Judge called a players-only meeting on June 29, Torres has started to turn things around.
Since that date (entering Wednesday) his ground ball rate has remained essentially the same, but his fly ball rate has been 45.7 percent which is way up from his season average of 36.3 percent. His hard hit rate is 40 percent and his barrel rate is 11.4 percent, both higher than his season averages.
As we’ve come to learn over the last few years, strikeouts are not the end of the world and hitting the ball in the air will eventually lead to good things. Since that team meeting Torres’ swing and contact numbers haven’t changed very much, but since he’s hitting more fly balls his production has gone up. Entering Wednesday he’s slashing .256/.385/.442 which is good for an .827 OPS to go along with his 133 wRC+ and .186 ISO.
He’s maintained his quality plate discipline with a 17.3 percent walk rate, but as mentioned earlier the quality of contact has dramatically increased which is exactly what the Yankees need and are expecting from him.