After a long and brutal experiment as the New York Yankees shortstop, Gleyber Torres has finally been moved back to second base where he belongs. Torres has never been known for his defense, so the idea of making him an everyday shortstop was flawed from the start and the gamble did not pay off. This season Torres has committed 18 errors from the position, which is second most in the American League.
Yankees New Defensive Alignment
With this shift back to second base appearing to be a permanent change for Torres, the Yankees will go with a new defensive alignment for the rest of the season. While Anthony Rizzo and Luke Voit continue to split time at first base, Torres will take over at second and shift DJ LeMahieu over to third. LeMahieu is primarily a second baseman but has logged plenty of starts at third in his career and plays the position competently. In comparison, LeMahieu is a much better third baseman than Torres is a shortstop. Finally, Gio Urshela will take over as the “regular” shortstop.
Urshela is excellent defensively and plays a Gold Glove-caliber third base. He has played shortstop before, though not often, and has proven that he is more than capable of handling it. With more repetitions and time to get comfortable at the position, he should continue to improve there. A player with the defensive skill set that Urshela has gives plenty of reasons to be optimistic that he will be just fine. After all, even if he struggles he cannot be much worse than Torres was.
It may not be a coincidence that since Torres was moved from second base to shortstop permanently before the 2020 season, his offense almost disappeared. In particular, he has not been able to find his power stroke at the plate. After combining for 62 home runs in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, he has only hit ten total in the last two campaigns. In addition, he is on pace to set new single-season career lows in 2021 for on-base percentage, slugging, on-base-plus-slugging, and other statistical categories as well. After 2019 he was on a trajectory to challenge Aaron Judge for the title of “best hitter on the Yankees,” but now he is nowhere near it.
In theory, the move back to second base, where he is a much more competent defender, should boost the confidence of Torres. He likely will not constantly make costly errors that hurt the team. The fact that he will likely be much more useful now in the field as opposed to a major liability should take some of the pressure off of him. Putting him more at ease and in turn giving him a confidence boost could prove to be beneficial to his bat. Baseball is an extremely mental game, and good things often happen when players are in the right frame of mind.
Now or Never
The Yankees are locked into a tight wild card race in the American League. With less than 20 games remaining on the schedule, there are five teams within three games of each other and fighting for just two spots. This move for Torres feels long overdue, but at least the Yankees are making it now and not after it is too late. The Yankees are making their final push for a postseason spot, and this is something that could help them get there. When Gleyber Torres is the best version of himself he is capable of being an absolute offensive weapon like he was for his first two seasons in New York. If he is going to get back to that, now would be the perfect time with the postseason just a few weeks away and the Yankees still needing to punch their ticket.
Come join the discussion made by the fans at the Overtime Heroics forums! A place for all sports!
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images