Just a quick recap for the Yankees readers:
What doesn’t matter in spring training: individual statistics, wins, losses, whether or not you remembered sunblock.
What does matter in spring training: underlying metrics, massive changes, renewed confidence, corrected problems, where you’re parked (hot steering wheel).
Now that we’ve gotten that established, it’s time to wean you off of spring training overreactions (sorry the Yankees are under .500, really, truly) and wean you onto the Encouraging Signs Bandwagon. Get weaned! Get on over here!
Using a combination of the eye test and hard data (really the best way to evaluate talent), we think it’s safe to say this trio of spring training bounce back standouts should probably make you hopeful rather than apathetic.
Is spring success a guarantee of regular season dominance? Far from it! Could these guys unlearn the strides they’ve made once the lights are brighter and the lineups are better? Annoying, but possible? Will Kyle Higashioka hit 85 home runs this year? Yes.
Bottom line, these three Yankees have made tangible strides and changes to their approaches this March and April. They’re not just finding holes or wriggling out of bases-loaded jams. They’re tearing the cover off the baseball and gripping and ripping.
These 3 Yankees spring training mirages could be for real
3. Gleyber Torres’ Swagger (and Oppo Pop)
So far, Yankee fans have been given one piece of reinforcement and one piece of encouragement regarding Gleyber Torres this swing.
- We know he cannot play shortstop, which he proved once again by sitting, waiting, and wishing for a slow-hopping grounder on Wednesday night, allowing a runner to reach for no apparent reason.
- Numbers aside, Torres has been doing a noticeably better job of turning on the baseball and depositing it over the wall in right-center field thus far this spring.
After a mostly-powerless 2021 that began to correct itself in August and Sept., we’re not ready to declare the 38-homer 2019 version of Gleyber to be all-caps BACK, but we’re ready to ring the bell and preach enthusiasm for reasons that go beyond his triple-slash (though a .990 OPS, through Friday, ain’t bad, folks).
It’s reductive to attribute Torres’ spring training mashing to “dad strength” after he became a proud father earlier in camp, but for whatever reason, the 25-year-old has looked … settled at the plate during a delayed spring training that could’ve presented plenty of pressure.
After all, when the Yankees acquired Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, they shipped his best friend Gio Urshela out of town and added to an infield logjam that was sure to create less playing time for either Torres or DJ LeMahieu. Torres was the one without the long-term deal, and seemed destined to be an Oakland A, playing in front of 80,000 (approximately) empty seats, while Frankie Montas worked with Matt Blake in New York.
Just a few weeks later, he remains entrenched at second base, leaving LeMahieu on the outside looking in and roving around the infield. His numbers may not stay sky high, but he appears to have reconnected with the confidence he left behind in ’19.