Yankees: Gleyber Torres’ ZIPS projections over next five years are MVP-like
Yankees slugger Gleyber Torres should have finished higher than 17th for AL MVP consideration in 2019. However, if he lives up to the enormous stats of his ZIPS projections, he could garner multiple MVP Awards over the next five years.
Hey, did you hear? Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres is only 23-years-old.
It’s a familiar refrain New York fans love to remind others when comparing the best players in the game. Coming off a breakout campaign, in which Torres and Brett Gardner were the only two Bombers to play in at least 140 games, Torres is set to switch back to his natural shortstop position.
The consistency of knowing game-in and game-out, of where he’ll be positioned in the infield, should only add to Torres’ comfortability as he grows into a genuine superstar.
Baseball players are creatures of habit — whether it has to do with their spot in the batting order or the thickness of their bat handle, the better suited a player is before they even step on the field, the more productive they’ll likely perform.
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Filling in for Didi Gregorius, who was recovering from Tommy John surgery, Torres played 77 games at shortstop. Although Gregorius would return on June 7, causing manager Aaron Boone to shift Torres back to second base for 65 regular-season contests (he also DH’d five times), Torres’ bat didn’t waiver.
Through the first half of last season, Torres hit .292, with 56 runs scored,14 doubles, 19 home runs, 50 RBIs across 350 plate appearances. His season-high OBP (.462), OPS (1.032), and BABIP (.380) all came in June.
Despite recording a season-worst strikeout percentage (28%) and walk rate (2.5%) in September/October, Torres was still able to compile a .278/.337/.535 slash line with 96 runs scored, 26 doubles, 38 homers and 90 RBIs in 604 plate appearances.
Yet unreleased for the coming season, Fangraphs Senior Writer Dan Szymborski recently gave a sneak peek at his 2020 ZIPS projections.
Brace yourselves, because the numbers that Szymborski estimates would put Torres in the company of Alex Rodriguez, as the only 23-year-old or younger middle infielder ever to hit 40+ homers and achieve, at least, a 135+ OPS.
"2020: .287/.348/.557; 136 OPS+; 41 HR2021: .292/.357/.588; 146 OPS+; 44 HR2022: .289/.357/.586; 145 OPS+; 44 HR2023: .289/.359/.602; 150 OPS+; 47 HR2024: .287/.360/.601; 150 OPS+; 47 HR"
In 1998, a 22-year-old Rodriguez hit 42 homers, while slashing .310/.360/.560; 136 OPS+.
Szymborski, who has calculated ZIPS for almost 20 years, projects a 31.2 fWAR for Torres through his age 27 season, making him only the 15th player in MLB history to record such a feat.
Should Torres achieve such statistics, there’s no doubt he’d be in contention for multiple MVP Awards and a Hall of Fame trajectory. In comparison, the great Ernie Banks slugged 183 homers and notched a 30 fWar through age 27.
Naturally, Torres, the two-time AL All-Star, still has room for growth defensively. ZIPS project -7 defensive runs saved for Torres this season. Surely, he’ll need to cut down on his 21 errors (11 at shortstop) in 2019.
However, overall positive metrics at short, alone, in ’19 are promising: a 5 Rtot, 1 Rdrs, and 8 Rtot/yr. With second base no longer factoring into the equation, Torres could reach new heights, on both sides of the ball, in only his third major league season.