July 22, 2021 | 2:13am
There was reason for the Yankees to be optimistic with Gleyber Torres — and reason to be furious, too. In this frustrating season, it was on brand for the young shortstop.
On one hand, he continued his recent uptick in power. But on the other hand, his defensive shortcomings yet again were impossible to ignore.
Both played a significant role Wednesday night in the Yankees’ wild 6-5, 10-inning win over the Phillies in The Bronx. Torres went deep for the third time in four games and had a key sacrifice bunt in the extra frame that led the Yankees to the win.
But he also made a crucial error to start the top of the eighth inning, as the Phillies rallied from three runs down against Zack Britton and Nick Nelson to pull even.
Torres, a shell of himself at the plate most of the season, has now hit safely in seven of his last eight games and is starting to perform like the player the Yankees expected to see. His defense, however, remains a problem. He has limited range at shortstop and 13 errors. According to the Fielding Bible, Torres is minus-5 in defensive runs saved. Only eight shortstops are worse.
But as far as his offense goes, Torres is driving the ball with authority and going to the opposite field. He’s pulling the ball less and getting better results. His double Tuesday night was to right field and so was his home run Wednesday.
Until recently, it had been a massive struggle at the plate for the 24-year-old. He had struggled defensively and his offensive numbers were nowhere close to the projections. In June, Torres managed just four extra-base hits and a .572 OPS. In his first 78 games of the season, Torres had only three homers.
Even now, his numbers are still underwhelming. His .241/.328/.339 slash line and .667 OPS aren’t even pedestrian. Remember, this is a player who hit 38 homers and drove in 90 runs as recently as 2019.