Many New York Yankees fans are accustomed to hearing the usual names in the starting infield. Mark Teixeira, Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius, and Chase Headley are the everyday guys, but whom do the Yankees turn to when they need a day off? That spot has been a question mark for some of the season, but an unlikely hero has stepped up to fill that role.
Ronald Torreyes has been the Yankees spot infielder this year, playing mainly third and second, but has seen some limited action as shortstop and even played some right field. His versatility and ability to play well every time he gets in the lineup has allowed Joe Girardi to give some players needed rest as the Yankees surge for a playoff spot.
The 24-year-old Torreyes is in his first season with the Yankees, after spending time with the Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros, and Los Angeles Dodgers minor league systems, making his MLB debut in September 2015 with the Dodgers. Originally out of Venezuela, Torreyes doesn’t look like a typical major-league player. He stands 5’10’’ and is listed at a measly 150 pounds. But he doesn’t let his small stature impact his performance on the field.
Torreyes is hitting a respectable .298 (31-104) during his 2016 campaign, with one home run and nine RBIs in 50 games. While those numbers wont blow you away, they certainly aren’t terrible. Eleven of his 31 hits have gone for extra bases, and he has scored 17 runs for the Yankees. Torreyes had struggled during the beginning of the year, seeing his average drop to as low as .215 in mid July, but he has significantly turned it around.
Since July 20, Torreyes is hitting .425 with a home run and four RBIs in 17 games played, with the Yankees going 12-5 in games in which he appeared. Torreyes’ hot streak comes at the perfect time, when the Yankees are clicking as a team and making a late push for a Wild Card spot, which they are 2.5 games out of. And some of that success is owed to Torreyes.
Now, doing what Torreyes does is very difficult. Not being a starter and taking as many as 10 games off in between appearances can be hard on a player. Going that long without seeing live pitching, or fielding game groundballs, is hard to adjust to and jump back into. But it’s something that Torreyes has adjusted to and embraced, and he has given the Yankees back more than they thought they would receive.
The small and often underestimated Torreyes has flow under the radar of most baseball fans, and even some of the Yankees fans. They wonder who this small guy who resembles a little leaguer is standing at the plate instead of one of the guys they pay tens of millions to. But Torreyes has been one of the major reasons the Yankees are even in contention for a playoff berth. His ability to come in and play any position on any given day, and play well, is something special that should not be overlooked. With a team full of superstars and players making ridiculous salaries, this smaller-than-life player is having a huge impact.