Great expectations allow one to overlook one's flaws. Gleyber Torres entered 2020 coming off a career high 38 home runs in only 144 contests slashing .278/.337/.535. He scored 96 runs and drove in 90 for the Yankees while pillaging Orioles pitching especially. His power catapulted Torres’ price skyward as a result despite some swing and miss tendencies.

Enter 2020 and his stock cratered. Dogged by injuries during the shortened season, Torres missed time due to a Grade 1 quadriceps and hamstring injury in the same leg. Unable to replicate his previous results, Torres played in 42 games accruing 160 plate appearances with 17 runs, three home runs, 16 RBI, one stolen base and a .243/.356/.368 slash. While many dismiss the results from last season, and it's warranted, ignoring what happened in regards to discipline metrics could be a mistake.

Torres recorded a career best 13.8 walk percentage last year with a career low strikeout rate of 17.5 percent. Yes, his isolated power (ISO) tumbled to a paltry .125 and his weighted on-base average (wOBA) fell to .326, but the injury seemed to help Torres remain more patient at the plate. He also reduced his swinging strike percentage to 10.6 percent, kept his contact rates steady and cut his O-Swing percent by over nine points to 25.6 percent. Noting it's a small sample size, it remains tangible.

According to Statcast, Torres generated 108 batted ball events with four barrels (3.7 percent), an 88.6 MPH average exit velocity and 38 hard hit rate. Unlike his metrics above, Statcast measures quality of contact for its expected statistics in which Torres struggled a bit. Any leg injury takes away foundation strength and the truncated season sprint exacerbated this. Torres finished with a .248 expected batting average (xBA), .379 expected slugging (xSLG) and .320 expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA).

Although disappointing, once again, Torres displayed growth in respect to his plate discipline. He proved less aggressive in the strike zone with an 8.7 percent dip in zone swing percentage but his zone contact rate only fell by two points. Torres beveled his chase percentage by 11.1 percent with his chase contact staying steady. Overall, Torres maintained a stable whiff percentage but his swing percentage fell by almost 10 percentage points.

Sifting through all of this, Torres struggled in terms of contact when he made it last year. He produced ground balls at a 41.7 percent clip, a fly ball rate of 29.6 and a line drive percentage of 25 with the drop in barrel percentage by almost seven. Focus on his improvement at the plate becoming more patient despite the usual power results showing up in the boxscore.

In an effort to expand his statistical sample, starting with the second half of 2019 and including last year helps:

  • Torres 2H 2019-through-2020: 105 games, 424 plate appearances, 57 runs, 22 home runs, 56 RBI, three stolen bases; .255/.325/.480, 8.7 BB%, 19.1 K%, .226 ISO, .339 wOBA

Still not as stellar as his breakout in 2019, but the power seems more intact. How Torres responds may foretell his future fortunes in fantasy. If this becomes a consolidation period during which he matures as a hitter, then a return to past levels could ensue. Torres sits on the precipice of his Age-24 season entering his fourth season as a major leaguer. Also not to be ignored, Torres hit five home runs measured by Statcast last year, four rated as no-doubters which translates to leaving any major league park.

Resetting his value, perusing his results over his first three seasons, Torres ranks sixth overall among shortstops in this time frame in home runs and seventh in RBI:

  • Torres First 3 Years: 309 games, 1,248 plate appearances, 167 runs, 65 home runs, 183 RBI, 12 stolen bases; .271/.340/.493, 9 BB%, 22.4 K%, .222 ISO, .351 wOBA

For the visual crowd, here's his spray chart from these seasons displaying his hits in them:

One would love to see Torres keep flashing his power to all fields, especially if he goes with a pitch instead of trying to pull it. Teams increased shifting him last season up to 38 percent of his plate appearances hurting his wOBA (.260) facing them. Again, there's some hope. First, Torres’ slice chart showing the direction of batted balls with a distance of 200 feet or less from his first three years:


But, he started to adjust in 2020 with this same chart hitting up the middle more often:

His hit spray chart clearly illustrates Torres can produce power to left-center field, so letting pitches travel deeper would not reduce his power. In fact, it may enable it to return as soon as 2021. If he learns to drive the ball to right-center, look out as his zone profile indicates:

Digesting all of this information leads to how the projection sets may foretell his upcoming season. Some caveats here, Torres’ age, where he hits in the lineup and a return to his 2019 aggressiveness with improved plate discipline could unlock the door of his potential. However, his numbers below provide three different ranges of outcomes:

  • Torres 2021 THE BAT X projection: 149 games, 649 plate appearances, 89 runs, 30 home runs, 87 RBI, five stolen bases; .268/.343/.481, 9.6 BB%, 20.6 K%, .213 ISO, .350 wOBA
  • Torres 2021 ZiPS projection: 148 games, 594 plate appearances, 85 runs, 33 home runs, 106 RBI, eight stolen bases; .284/.364/.526, 10.6 BB%, 20.7 K%, .242 ISO, .370 wOBA
  • Torres 2021 ATC projection: 141 games, 580 plate appearances, 80 runs, 29 home runs, 83 RBI, five stolen bases; .270/.348/.495, 10 BB%, 20.1 K%, .224 ISO, .359 wOBA

What a difference a year makes. Last year caused apprehension on my part leading me to pass on Torres at his draft capital. With the potential gains in discipline, a return to full health and just entering the prime of his production, it's time to push the chips in and target Gleyber Torres with confidence in 2021. Pay for THE BAT X projection and profit handsomely if the ZiPS Torres shows up this season, great expectations return for the young slugger.

Statistical Credits:

THE BAT X courtesy of Derek Carty

ZiPS courtesy of Dan Szymborski

ATC courtesy of Ariel Shoen