Yankees rookie Gleyber Torres doing all he can to outshine Shohei Ohtani

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 21: Gleyber Torres #25 of the New York Yankees celebrates his two-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the second inning at Globe Life Park on May 21, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 21: Gleyber Torres #25 of the New York Yankees celebrates his two-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the second inning at Globe Life Park on May 21, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /

Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres has the difficult task of beating out a two-way player for AL Rookie of the Year honors. But so far he has.

Anytime a young player enters the same conversation as Yankees great Mickey Mantle; you’re forced to take notice.

During New York’s 10-5 victory on Monday night versus the Rangers, 21-year-old Gleyber Torres became the youngest Yankee since Mickey Mantle on Aug 11, 1952, to achieve a multi-homer game.

In all fairness to The Mick, he was 20 years and 296 days old compared to Torres’ 21 years and 159 days of age at the time of the feat.

Torres’ two-run shot in the second inning — and solo blast to straight-away center in the fifth gives the No. 4 prospect in baseball six home runs on the season to go along with a .321/.389/.571 slash with 18 RBI and 13 runs scored. All this in just 84 at-bats.

I do my best not to get wrapped up in things like exit velocity or the overall distance of homers; however, each of Gleyber’s six long balls have gone at least 400 feet, so it’s worth noting.

On paper, we were well aware what the Yankees were getting when they sent Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs in 2016. At the time, Torres was the Cubs’ No. 1 prospect, but at 19, his big league ETA was still undefined.

Then the Venezuelan-native began sprinting through the Yanks’ farm system only to suffer a season-ending injury in June of last year. Not knowing how long it would take Torres to knock off almost nine full months of rust (including a dreadful spring) was the reason Neil Walker was signed in the first place.

More from Yankees News

But just as Torres showed on Monday against a soon to be 45-year-old Bartolo Colon (Torres was 3 months old when Colon made his MLB debut in 1997), he is immensely refined for his age; it’s scary to think about the type of production Torres will achieve once he matures.

In three at-bats vs. Colon, Torres saw only nine pitches. In between the two home runs, he was plunked; however, Torres was able to target the pitches he saw fit and make just enough of an adjustment to make Big Bart pay for his ineffectiveness. Stating that Torres is cool, calm and collected at the plate may be an understatement at this point.

Even though we still have not entered the final week of May, in any other season, Torres would be the runaway favorite, already, for the AL Rookie of the Year Award. But Shohei Ohtani has taken his unique talents to Anaheim and done exceptionally well as a two-way player.

On the mound, the 23-year-old (turns 24 on July 5) is 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA, 1.066 WHIP and 52:14 K:BB ratio in 40.1 innings pitched.

With the stick, Ohtani is slashing .321/.367/.619 with six home runs and 17 RBI in 84 at-bats — which is quite similar to the Yankee second baseman. Even the AB’s are exact, due to Torres’ delayed call-up and Ohtani missing some games following an ankle sprain, actually suffered against the Yankees.

Let us also not forget that Torres is a recently converted shortstop. His 25 appearances at second base are the most games he’s ever played at the position. Yet his silky smooth glove, fantastic lateral movement and a cannon for an arm would lead to believe he grew up manning the spot.

In 222 defensive innings, Torres already has 32 put-outs, 65 assists and nine double plays turned for an overall fielding percentage of .970. His three errors are made up by his five defensive runs saved above average.

Ohtani’s ability to dictate a contest on both sides of the ball cannot be denied. However, there is the one caveat that is often left alone — that foreign players, including Ohtani, already have ample years of professional baseball experience under their belts.

Now I understand that Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan is said to be the equivalent to Triple-A here in the States; but Ohtani, since the age of 18, still has five years of know-how against players far his senior.

And in a freshman season where Gleyber Torres is more than two years Ohtani’s junior, has far less playing experience and is coming off a significant injury — all this needs to be taken into account when it comes time to award hardware later this fall.

Next: Yankees should leverage future to make team dominant now

Undoubtedly, a lot can happen between now and then — injuries and poor play being the easiest of the two to discern who is most deserving. But if both players stay at the top of their games, as Torres’ 1.4 WAR and Ohtani’s 1.7 suggest, the one that helps push their club into the postseason probably walks away with all the accolades.