Back in February, I wrote an article on the Yankees shortstop position, particularly in regards to Gleyber Torres. You can read that article here. Now, because there is not any baseball being played, I must revisit. Because what else is there to do but revise old takes.
When I wrote that article back in February I focused on Gleyber’s build. He has, without a doubt, built his body to become a powerful middle of the lineup hitter. When you look at the traditional shortstop build, Gleyber’s doesn’t really come to mind. Maybe someone like Francisco Lindor does.
Gleyber was listed at 6’1″ 175 pounds when he first became a pro. However, after a few years in the Majors, he has gotten visibly bigger. Even back in 2017, Scouting Reports had this to say about Torres, “he has seen his range decline some as he thickened in his lower half, but he still has such good hands that he projects as a shortstop.” Fast forward to 2020 and Gleyber has thickened even more. While this may not be the best game plan for maximizing range, it has allowed him to be a far more prolific power hitter at the plate. It’s certainly not “bad” weight, but his body type doesn’t project well for your average shortstop.
Today, though, I want to focus more on the data. First of all, it’s not enough to say that Gleyber was better at second base or vice versa, he has had his struggles at both second and shortstop. Maybe he just is not a great defender overall. In 2019, Torres played 77 total games at shortstop with a .961 fielding percentage and 11 errors. At second base, he played in 65 games, posting a .967 feeling percentage and nine errors. Furthermore, he recorded -1 DRS at shortstop and -12 DRS at second base. All in all, Gleyber just needs work defensively.
To add on top of that, he recorded five errors in his time at shortstop in Spring Training. But Thanks to a newer metric named Infield Outs Above Average, we can get a better understanding of his struggles throughout the 2019 season. First of all, we can see that Torres performed basically the same in OAA at both second and shortstop in 2019. Torres while listed as a 2B recorded -4 OAA and a -3 OAA at shortstop. However, those numbers are slightly skewed because a lot of the time Torres is shaded towards the right-field side of second base. While in that position, his OAA was -5. When he was standing at shortstop, however, he had 0 OAA. From those numbers, then, he might just be an average defensive shortstop. Gleyber has similar issues when shaded over to third.
This issue may be fixable, but it does not make it any less of a glaring issue. Especially for a shortstop in today’s game. There are so many at-bats throughout a season where the infield needs to shade a certain side due to a hitter’s tendency. If your shortstop is significantly worse outside of the traditional shortstop position, then that’s not an issue that can be glossed over.
Gleyber will still get a fair share of time at shortstop. They will let him go through the growing pains of a 23-year-old switching everyday positions. But if it gets ugly, I don’t think the replacements will be Thairo Estrada or Tyler Wade. That’s just what I thought back in February.
Instead, I could really see D.J LeMahieu being a solid shortstop. I don’t have a ton to back that sentiment up. However, he has proven the ability to play quite literally every other position in the infield. Why not give him a few chances at shortstop throughout the season if needed. If it works out, other than the fact that it would make him even more valuable on the free-agent market, the Yankees could benefit.