Going into this week’s American League Wild Card Series versus the Cleveland Indians, there were legitimate concerns about whether or not the Bombers could handle Cleveland’s elite pitching staff. As it turns out, the New York Yankee offense was more than up to the challenge of facing Shane Beiber and Carlos Carasco on back-to-back nights. The Yanks put up an incredible 22 runs against Cleveland in the two-game sweep, demonstrating just how dominant this lineup can be when things are clicking.
Everybody on the team made key contributions to the offensive outburst. Judge hit a huge home run that set the tone in Game 1. Gio Urshela’s grand slam turned the tide in the middle innings of a wild Game 2. After a slow start, Giancarlo Stanton rebounded to have an excellent series overall. DJ LeMahieu, as he always seems to do, delivered a clutch hit with runners on base in the ninth, a hit that capped an impressive comeback victory and vaulted the Yankees into the ALDS.
While plenty of players were great against Cleveland, the team’s offensive MVP had to be Gleyber Torres. Torres led the Yankees in hits (five), batting average (.714), on-base percentage (.800), and OPS (1.943) over the course of the two games. Torres walked three times against the Indians and was the only Yankee hitter without a single strikeout. In Tuesday’s win, he became the first shortstop in team history to record four hits and three RBI in a single postseason game.
Postseason success is nothing new for Torres. In fact, one could argue that he’s been the Yankees’ best postseason performer since 2018. Here are his stats through 16 career postseason games:
The numbers speak for themselves. Torres is a force in the postseason. His batting average, OBP, wOBA, and wRC+ are all higher in the playoffs than they are in the regular season, meaning Torres is at his best when the lights are the brightest.
Much of Torres’ postseason success can be attributed to better plate discipline. While he strikes out 22.4% of the time in regular-season play, Torres strikes out at just a 13.2% clip in the playoffs. He also walks more often in the playoffs (11.8%) than he does the rest of the year (9.0%). Swinging at strikes and spitting on balls has allowed Torres to record at least one hit in 14 out of his 16 postseason games.
The Road Ahead
The Yankees face a very difficult challenge in the Tampa Bay Rays. Tyler Glasnow, Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, and the Rays’ relievers have had solid success against the Yanks this season. The good news, however, is that October baseball is a different animal. The Bombers are riding high, and their superstar shortstop is driving the ball all over the ballpark. If Torres leads the way and the rest of the offense follows, then New York will have a great shot at vanquishing their division rivals.