The one thing — the one thing — Yankees fans could reliably count on Gleyber Torres to provide, even during his darkest times in 2020 and 2021, might have just disappeared thanks to an architect’s whim.
So, in case you’re counting, the Yankees signed Gerrit Cole, then saw their best-laid plans thrown aside by (in order): a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, a labor fight that took games off the board, home playoff games in San Diego, Rob Manfred taking away a commonplace pitchers’ tool without warning, two different deader baseballs, a lockout, and nine games per season of an outfield wall. Very normal stuff. Very normal sequence of events for any franchise.
Torres, once a future superstar in training, took massive steps back in the power department in the shortened 2020 and 2021 seasons, altering his career trajectory significantly.
In addition to his newfound propensity for double plays, the power shortage also magnified all the issues that his 2019 longball fiesta — of which the Baltimore Orioles were a significant part — had once papered over. The defensive concerns, especially at shortstop. The hustle and motivation questions, previously written off as nonsense, that reared their ugly head anew in 2021. And, of course, the louder-than-ever chatter that he might have inflated his numbers in a very real way by tattooing the weakened O’s pitching staff and simply getting by against everyone else.
Well, we’re about to find out a little more about that in 2022, it would seem!
Just as Torres tries to build on his solid August and September performance, the Orioles have announced they’re adding a proto-Green Monster to left field at Camden Yards, turning, conservatively, five Torres home runs into singles or doubles in ’22. Helpful! We get it, but … annoying.
Yankees’ Gleyber Torres ruined by the Orioles’ new left-field wall at Camden Yards?
Not saying the Orioles had a responsibility to their owner, Gleyber Torres, to keep that wall small, but I’m also not not saying that.
If you think we’re exaggerating about Torres’ unique (well, not that unique) ability to crank Baltimore in 2019, we’re not. In 18 games, he triple-slashed .394/.467/1.045 with a 1.512 OPS, clobbering 13 homers in the matchup. Seven of those bombs, alongside an even higher 1.667 OPS, came at Camden Yards.
If you’ve ever seen Torres tattoo a baseball before, you know he likes to punish left field. He’d better hope he gets all his lift in his swing back and then some in 2022, because otherwise he’s going to be left peppering a newly-built wall and jogging into first base.
The wall isn’t going to be Torres’ only problem, either, as rumor has it Baltimore’s looking to move their left-center wall back approximately 30 feet. Congratulations to Cedric Mullins!
In response to Baltimore’s decision, the Yankees should announce they plan to move their iconic left-field scoreboard in just a bit to about 240 feet. Competitive balance is important. Surely everyone will understand.
Torres’ 2019 playoff performance continues to give us hope he won’t ultimately just become a player who feasts on the dregs of MLB and struggles against higher-level competition (a .417 average and 1.378 OPS in the ALDS, a .280 average and .933 OPS with two bombs against Houston in the ALCS).
The Orioles’ latest business decision won’t help him out whatsoever, though, in an all-important career pivot year that could end with him frozen out of the Yankees’ plans altogether.