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Gleyber Torres hasn’t 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 looking for a place in the playoffs on the outside. By the time we get to the heart of the matter in September, expect the team and their fans to be fighting for a chance to play October baseball.
They will most likely be buyers by the deadline as they usually are, but buying by the deadline doesn’t always go the way you’d hope. Ultimately, now you have to rely on the guys in the clubhouse.
One of the guys they really need to turn it around is Gleyber Torres.
Gleyber Torres is ready for a second half blowback
The Yankees’ young shortstop has had a calendar year he’d like to forget. He struggled throughout 2020 during a pandemic shortened season but managed to save his season with a 106 wRC+. That’s a long way from his previous two seasons, but you can give him a pass because players across the league had bad years.
Unfortunately, the problems bled into the 2021 season. Torres’ strength suddenly disappeared and it became a serious problem as he hit 62 home runs with an ISO of .235 in his first 267 games.
From the start of the 2020 season until the All-Star break in 2021, Torres had a .241/.336/.301 slash line with a .084 ISO, which is not going to 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 bad contact. Torres had essentially traded strength for plate discipline, and while plate discipline is important to being a good batter, it won’t do you any favors if you lean on it too much.
You can swing and miss and be a productive batter, and ever since Aaron Judge called a player-only meeting on June 29, Torres started turning things around.
Since that date (starting Wednesday), his ball speed on the ground has remained essentially the same, but his fly ball speed was 45.7 percent, which is much higher than 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 seasonal averages.
As we’ve learned over the years, strikeouts aren’t the end of the world, and hitting the ball in the air will eventually lead to good things. Not much has changed since that team met Torres’ swing and contact numbers, but since he hit more fly balls, his production has soared. On Wednesday it comes in with a slash of .256/.385/.442 which is good for a .827 OPS in combination with its 133 wRC+ and .186 ISO.
He maintained his quality plate discipline with a 17.3 percent running speed, but as mentioned, the quality of contact has increased dramatically and that is exactly what the Yankees need and expect from him.
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