How the Yankees can consider Gleyber Torres’ baserunning in 2020

Gleyber Torres’ defensive shortcomings in 2020 are well-documented. However as worrisome as his bungling routine performs at brief is observing Gleyber’s regression in different areas of his recreation. Many gamers underperformed throughout the bizarre, truncated 2020 season. However as a younger participant who’s nonetheless creating, Gleyber’s elementary expertise ought to look extra refined than they did final 12 months. The backslide in Torres’ baserunning is very noticeable.

Everybody is aware of Torres has a ton of potential. However all through his rookie season in 2018, Torres demonstrated considered one of his weaknesses—his baserunning—on a number of events. From getting doubled-up on routine fly balls to sliding in very odd methods, Torres confirmed poor instincts on the basepaths in 2018. His operating gaffes had been closely criticized.

Figuring out the best way to make changes is essential within the majors and Torres has proven he’s able to doing this. Following his rookie season, his baserunning improved considerably. In 2019, Torres’ enchancment was most evident in his extra-base taken price (XBT%), which measures how typically a runner efficiently advances to an additional base, given the chance. In 2018 Torres took further bases 21 p.c of the time. One season later, he took further bases 37 p.c of the time, a rise of 16 factors (league common is 43 p.c).

After enhancing in 2019, Gleyber’s XBT% dropped again right down to 25 p.c in 2020. Each the attention check and his numbers verify Torres was much less opportunistic on the bases this season. And though Gleyber’s XBT% in 2020 is predicated on a smaller pattern dimension, as there have been fewer video games and fewer alternatives to advance on the bases, the lower is important.

Run-scoring proportion (RS%), a metric representing how typically a baserunner finally scores a run, is one other space the place Gleyber’s numbers stand out for the incorrect causes.

Torres scored 26 p.c of the time when he was a baserunner this 12 months. Gary Sánchez (who’s painfully sluggish) and Giancarlo Stanton (who’s very conservative on the bases on account of damage issues) are the one different on a regular basis gamers on the Yankees with run-scoring percentages decrease than his. If Torres scores runs much less incessantly than most of his teammates, it’s most likely as a result of he makes extra outs on the bases. Word that ‘most likely’ is the operative phrase right here, since confirming that correlation would require extra evaluation to verify that he merely wasn’t getting unfortunate with the gamers developing behind him failing to drive him in.

Baserunning runs above common (BsR), a FanGraphs statistic which assesses what number of runs above or under common a group positive aspects from a participant’s baserunning, is one space the place Gleyber’s numbers mirror a slight enchancment. His -0.5 BsR in 2019 rose to -0.3 BsR this 12 months. It’s an enchancment, albeit not an impactful one.

That Torres’ BsR is a detrimental worth means the Yankees are more likely to rating fewer runs with Torres on base than they’d sometimes anticipate. Torres additionally fares worse than most of his friends on this metric; he ranked thirty sixth amongst shortstops within the majors with a minimum of 20 plate appearances this 12 months.

On the finish of the day, Torres’ skill to stretch a single right into a double doesn’t concern me a lot because the sample of his poor decision-making on the basepaths does. On a couple of events this 12 months, Torres appeared to make rash selections that resembled the type of baserunning errors he made as a rookie in 2018. Making an out at third base, as he did right here on August 8 towards the Rays, is the kind of mistake that Torres shouldn’t be making anymore.

As a result of baserunners can sometimes rating from second base, making an attempt to get to 3rd affords little benefit. Although he had little to realize from advancing, and regardless of Rays’ outfielder Kevin Kiermaier’s fame for having a powerful, correct arm, Torres inexplicably makes a go for it at third. Having a runner on first with two outs in lieu of runners on first and second with one out makes a giant distinction in a tied recreation.

Good baserunning requires consciousness. Good baserunners preserve tabs consistently on each variable that would have an effect on their skill to advance: the actual recreation state of affairs, the way in which infielders are positioned, the opposing pitcher’s tendencies, the relative power of every outfielder’s arm, and so forth. Ideally, these instincts can be second nature to Gleyber by now. Absolutely creating them will profit him lots.

Baserunning isn’t a very powerful aspect of the sport, and I notice its significance continues to minimize as groups rely an increasing number of on house runs to attain. However in video games that depend—video games through which a group can’t afford to make errors—good baserunning is invaluable. Torres should hone his skill to make the form of split-second selections that allow baserunners to make the most of an opposing pitcher’s sluggish windup, or to capitalize on a fielder bobbling a ball and never masking his base.

Gleyber is a particular participant. He must sharpen these expertise. His baserunning gaffes will detract from his superb expertise if he doesn’t, and that may be a disgrace.

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