It’s Time for Yankees Fans to Love Thy Gleyber

It's Time for Yankees Fans to Love Thy Gleyber.
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees has not received the support his playing deserves. Other players on the Yankees seemingly receive more fan support than Torres. Here’s an example:

Below are the slash lines for two Yankee infielders in terms of AVG, OBP, and OPS.

Player 1: .250/.319/.721

This player has posted a BWAR of 0.4 and an OPS+ of 98 meaning they have been less productive than the league average hitter this season.

Player 2: .264/.351/.818

This player has posted a BWAR of 0.8 and an OPS+ of 124 meaning they have been 24% better than the league average hitter this season.

Player 1 is DJ LeMahieu, a 34-year-old player on the decline who many Yankee fans would still tell you is the best hitter on the team not named Aaron Judge, despite being 3 years removed from that kind of production.

Player 2 is Gleyber Torres, a 26-year-old player who after a couple of down seasons playing out of position has reestablished himself as one of the better second baseman in baseball. Many Yankee fans would trade Torres at a moment’s notice.

Lofty Expectations for Gleyber Torres

Part of the reason many fans feel this way about Torres is because of the lofty expectations placed on him after his strong rookie and sophomore campaigns, both of which saw him named an All-Star. It doesn’t help that following the 2019 season, MLB posted a graphic from their official Instagram account with Torres’ projections for the next 5 years. The projections were as follows:

  • 2020: HR-41 OPS-.905
  • 2021: HR-44 OPS-.945
  • 2022: HR-44 OPS-.943
  • 2023: HR-47 OPS-.961
  • 2024: HR-47 OPS-.961

These were Hall of Fame-level expectations placed on a player heading into his age 23 season and it is safe to say Torres did not meet those. Between a combined 169 games in 2020 and 2021, he hit just 12 HR and posted an OPS+ below the league average. A far cry from the All-Star he broke into the league as. On top of all that, after Didi Gregorius left following the 2019 season, Torres moved over to Shortstop, a much more demanding position defensively. Torres struggled there, even admitting he let his defense affect his offense en route to his two worst seasons to date.

Torres Returns to Form

Following his two down seasons and a shift back to second base, the 26-year-old has begun to regain his All-Star form. While he still hasn’t reached the heights from his 2019 campaign where he hit 38 HR and drove in 90, he is getting closer. Last year he hit 24 HR and drove in 76, posting a career-best 4.6 BWAR, something most fans would likely find very surprising. Following his two-homer effort Wednesday night against the Baltimore Orioles, he is now up to nine HR on the year and an .818 OPS, the same number he posted his rookie year, and just 50 points off his 2019 number.

Yankees Long Term Outlook

There is an argument for trading Torres. Oswald Peraza, one of the Yankees’ best prospects is a middle infielder and appears more than ready to become a mainstay in the big leagues. While Peraza projects as an upgrade defensively and on the base paths, that is not enough to warrant moving on from a proven impact bat in Gleyber Torres, just entering his prime. To this point in 2023, Torres has been the Yankees’ biggest everyday offensive threat behind Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo. Despite all this, a large portion of the fan base constantly seems to be on his case instead of a guy like LeMahieu who has not looked like himself for going on three years.

Peraza has already shown the ability to play third base in his limited time in the big leagues and I don’t see why the focus shouldn’t be on keeping both him and Torres.

Josh Donaldson is in the last year of his deal and may not even see the end of this season if he doesn’t produce upon returning from injury, LeMahieu is 34 and most effective moving around in a utility role rather than being entrenched in one position. Isiah Kiner-Falefa is on a one-year deal, has spent a lot of his time in the outfield, and can’t hit consistently while Oswaldo Cabrera seems more comfortable in the outfield and is yet to prove he can hit at the big league level. The Yankees infield logjam is quickly becoming something but the story around Gleyber Torres should be looking to extend him rather than trade him.

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Embed from Getty Images

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Evan Kelly

Senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying Finance. Covering the Yankees for SportRelay.com

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