MLB

MLB: Is Gleyber Torres the Next Alex Rodriguez for the Yankees?

The New York Yankees are loaded with stars all across the diamond. With players like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and new acquisition Gerrit Cole spending a lot of time in the spotlight, some good players get  overshadowed in the Bronx. One such player is infielder Gleyber Torres. He has averaged 31 home runs in his first two seasons in the majors, and at 23 years old, the Venezuelan is likely only going to get better with experience. Some people have been comparing him to former Yankee Alex Rodriguez, and at least one projection system thinks Torres is going to continue putting up big numbers over the next few seasons.

Gleyber Torres’ career to date

The Chicago Cubs signed Torres as an international free agent in 2014, and they sent him to the Yankees in July 2016 in exchange for closer Aroldis Chapman as part of a four-player trade. Torres made his MLB debut in 2018 and hit .271 in 123 games. He hit 24 home runs and had 77 RBIs as a rookie, earning him a third-place finish in American League Rookie of the Year voting. 

Torres followed that up last season by hitting .278 with 38 home runs and 90 RBIs in 144 games, and he doesn’t seem to be scared off by playing in big games. In 14 career postseason games, he is a .302 hitter with three homers and 10 runs driven in over 53 at-bats.

The projected stats show Torres is primed for greatness

Yankees' star Gleyber Torres is still in the early stages of his career, but he could be the franchise's next Alex Rodriguez.
Gleyber Torres points skyward as he crosses home plate after hitting a home run. | Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

If you believe the projections, Gleyber Torres is only going to get better for the foreseeable future. FanGraphs has released the site’s ZiPS projections for Torres for the next five seasons, and the numbers should make Yankee fans happy. 

For the 2020 season, FanGraphs has Torres becoming a 40-homer player, with a slash line of .287/.348/.557 and 41 home runs for the season. And those 41 home runs will be the fewest Torres hits through 2024, according to the site. 

The projections continue to have Torres’ batting average hovering around the .290 mark from 2021-2024. And his power is going to get better, with ZiPS projections showing Torres hitting 44 home runs in both 2021 and 2022, then bumping that number up to 47 in 2023 and 2024. Those are numbers that FanGraphs senior writer Dan Szymborksi described as “monster,” particularly for someone who will still only be 28 at the end of the projection period.

Gleyber Torres’ projections compare favorably to A-Rod and Hall of Famers

When you take a look at the projections for Torres, you can’t help but compare the young player to another former Yankee infielder who put up monster numbers in his prime, Alex Rodriguez.

In his age-22 season in 1998 — his third full season in the majors — A-Rod slashed .310/.360/.560, with 42 homers and a 136 OPS+. Compare that to Torres’ projections for this season — his third in the majors — and, other than average, they’re not far off. FanGraphs projects Torres to hit .287/.348/.557, with 41 home runs and an identical 136 OPS+, which is an advanced stat that takes OPS and adjusts it for the park and league in which the player plays. 

If the ZiPS projections pan out, it could put Gleyber Torres on an early path toward enshrinement in Cooperstown. The numbers put him in rarefied air with numbers comparable to only six second basemen and eight shortstops in the history of the sport — all but three of whom are in the Hall of Fame. Looking at what Torres has done to date and what he is projected to do in the coming seasons, the Cubs might have major regrets about trading him to the Yankees.