The Yankees have had a difficult April. While the team certainly showed signs of life in Cleveland and Baltimore, the overall numbers still look pretty pedestrian. The Yanks are 11-14 (.440) going into tonight’s game against the Detroit Tigers, which puts them just a few spots out of last place in the American League.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Yankees early woes has been the impotency of the offense. Nearly every player on the team looks to be in a funk at the plate. The power hitters aren’t hitting for much power, the contact guys aren’t making much contact, and the runs are few and far between.
For the first two weeks, nobody struggled to hit more than Gleyber Torres. Through his first 16 games of the year (68 plate appearances), Gleyber’s numbers were about as ugly as numbers can get:
Torres managed to keep his strikeouts in check during that stretch (22.1 K%—roughly his career average), but he was having a lot of trouble squaring up the baseball. According to FanGraphs, Gleyber only made hard contact 11.4% of the time in his first 68 plate appearances of 2021. For context, Gleyber posted a hard contact rate over 30% in each of his first three seasons.
Torres Heating Up
In my opinion, Torres often acts as the keystone in the Yankee lineup. When he’s playing well, he adds incredible value and depth to the middle of the order. The dynamic contributions that Gleyber can make in the 5-hole or the 6-hole are absolutely indispensable. His early slump was clearly having a major impact on the productivity of the lineup.
Fortunately, we’re starting to see the good Gleyber once again. Since the Yankees started their series in Cleveland, Torres has played in all eight of their games (35 plate appearances) and posted the following numbers:
Gleyber’s peripherals have improved along with his overall stat line. Most importantly, his hard contact rate leapt from 11.4% in his first 16 games to 32.1% during his last eight. While Gleyber can still do better, these numbers look a lot more like the ones that we would have expected prior to the start of the season.
Gleyber’s best moment of the week came yesterday afternoon in what ended up being a tough 4-3 loss to Baltimore. With the Yankees trailing 3-2 and down to their final strike, Gleyber roped a ground rule double to left field that tied the game. If the ball had stayed in play, there’s a good chance that LeMahieu could’ve scored and given the Yankees a late lead. It was a fantastic piece of clutch hitting and a major moment for Gleyber, who is definitely starting to regain his rhythm.
This weekend, the Yankees host Detroit for a three-game set at the Stadium. For Torres, a series against the Tigers comes at just the right time. The Tigers’ staff ranks 29th in ERA, 28th in WHIP, and 21st in batting average against. If Gleyber continues to swing the bat well, then he should be rewarded with further success at the plate.