In baseball, there are names synonymous with rival organizations solely for the damage they inflicted over their careers on the opponent.
Ryan Braun and the Chicago Cubs. Albert Pujols and the Houston Astros (in 2 different leagues). To put it into perspective: Chipper Jones beat up on the Mets so badly that he named his third-born child “Shea” after their stadium; which was regularly filled with a rambunctious and raucous crowd that pelted him in chants of “Larry” at seemingly every opportunity.
This season, however, one player is dominating a rival like we’ve never seen before: 22-year-old infielder Gleyber Torres. The Bronx Bomber has absolutely demolished Oriole pitching—but who hasn’t?
The Orioles are currently 39-81, sitting 41.5 games behind the first place Yankees in the AL East. They have a 5.91 team ERA on the year and have given up 249 homeruns on the season. The most homeruns in a single season by a team is 258, set by the 2016 Cincinnati Reds. The Orioles aren’t just on pace to break it up with a month and half to go in the season, but they’re going to absolutely shatter it. I mean, the Yankees alone have had 15 different players hit a homerun against Baltimore and have hit a combined 61 by themselves.
As for Torres, his overall season slashline looks way beyond solid: .283/.349/.521 with 26 homeruns and an .870 OPS mark that’s high above league average. This is good enough to give Torres a BRef WAR hovering around 3. But just how much of his excellence is bloated by his superior performance against probably the worst pitching team in the history of baseball?
Exactly half of Torres homeruns this season (13) have come in either the friendly confines of Camden Yards or the friendlier confines of the Yankee Stadium porch in a game specifically against Baltimore. This broke the record set by Cubs’ Sammy Sosa against the Milwaukee Brewers (12) in 1998. After a multi-homerun day in the recent double header, Torres even went as far as getting the Barry Bonds treatment; as Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde decided to “hide” him in the basepaths to load the bases.
Torres is in his second MLB season, and in 28 lifetime games against Baltimore has hit .366 with a .444 on base percentage and .891 slugging percentage. He has 16 lifetime homeruns, 1.336 OPS, 3 SB and 14 walks. He’s driven in a scorching 31 runs against the club.
To truly emphasize just how much he completely wrecks the team, let’s look at the calls on the homeruns from legendary O’s broadcaster Gary Thorne:
All 13 Gleyber Torres homers against the Orioles this year!— Kyle ⚾️ (@KyleNYY) August 13, 2019
Gary Thorne getting more depressed after each one is the best part 😂 pic.twitter.com/rnn4D2yl77
“You’ve gotta put 4 fingers up because when he rounds third it’s too late” is the perfect explanation for what the Orioles strategy should be against the 2x All-Star middle infielder. But should that be the strategy for everybody else?
In two words, probably not.
We’ve documented his Oriole dominance that exudes decimation. As for the rest of the league, it isn’t quite the case.
Gleyber Torres against every team this season that isn’t the Baltimore Orioles: .261 batting average, .326 OBP, .420 SLG%. His OPS is .746, and his wRC+ is 94 (comparatively, it’s 284 against Baltimore and 128 overall). This is a very far cry from his statistics against the lowly O’s team, and actually puts into perspective the overall production you’ll get from Torres, at least right now.
For comparison’s sake, the league average in each stat is as followed:
Noticeably, the only 2 statistics that Torres beats total against 29 other teams is batting average and on-base percentage; barely surpassing these marks. The two statistics go hand-in-hand, because the on-base percentage obviously takes your batting average and adds in your share of walks, hit by pitches, as well as reaching on things such as fielder’s choices and errors. It does subtract sacrifice flies, which batting average does not. When it comes to getting on base, he’s around league average and below league average in power marks. Torres is all around a slightly below average offensive performer against the rest of the league. Now, let’s compare these numbers to his career numbers against the pitching staffs he’ll potentially see in October on the AL side of the playoffs:
Tampa Bay: .200/.294/.300, .594 OPS. 0 lifetime homeruns in 26 divisional games.
Houston: .265/.275/.449, .723 OPS. 2 homeruns in 13 games.
Minnesota: .286/.340/.388, .728 OPS. 1 homerun in 13 games.
Cleveland: .263/.300/.632, .932 OPS. 2 homeruns in 5 games.
The only pitching staff of the 5 American League teams currently in playoff spots that he’s hit above league average against is Cleveland and in the most minuscule of possible sample sizes. The Kevin Cash-led Rays absolutely own Torres. He’s had the least amount of success against them, despite playing them more than 25 other teams in the league.
Gleyber Torres is having a breakout campaign and is statistically riding on one team to put up such numbers. He’s been so destructive against Baltimore that it statistically takes a player who hovers around league average and makes him look like the greatest second baseman since a young Robinson Cano.
As an avid follower of the sport, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player crush one pitching staff in such an eye-popping, malevolent fashion. How will this translate to Torres down the stretch now that the team is has completed its season series against the orange birds? Only time will tell. But it has been an absolutely mesmerizing run of destruction to watch in 2019.
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