The Yankees have a star-studded team, currently headlined by Aaron Judge. But will Gleyber Torres take that title in the coming years?
Over the past century, the Yankees have had a ton of superstars, and with that, they’ve had a ton of leaders and poster boys. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Thurman Munson, Derek Jeter, to name a few. How many kids who didn’t watch a lick of baseball had a Jeter poster in their room? Exactly. But with those four guys long out of the picture, the spotlight shines on a new leader. A “face of the franchise,” if you’d like. That person is none other than… no, not Aaron Judge. Gleyber Torres.
Look, I know some of you (most of you, maybe) are shaking your head at this, but I urge you to hear me out. Torres, acquired from the Cubs in the 2016 Aroldis Chapman trade (along with Billy McKinney, Adam Warren, and Rashad Crawford), has essentially two full seasons under his belt since being called up in April of 2018. He finished third in Rookie of the Year voting behind teammate Miguel Andujar and two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, who won the hardware.
In 2018, Torres showed great promise, hitting .271 with a .340 on-base percentage, while also driving 24 home runs out of the yard and knocking in 77 in 123 games. In 2019, the 23(!!!) year-old took it to another level. Last season, Torres hit .278 with 38 long balls and 90 RBI. Those numbers are flat out electric.
Don’t get me wrong — Judge has put up some gaudy numbers himself. In 396 career games, Judge is hitting .273 with a .394 on-base percentage. He’s also hit 110 home runs and has driven in 246. Not to mention, he plays a stellar right field, with 45 DRS (defensive runs saved) in his relatively short career to this point. But it’s more than just numbers on the field as to why Torres is the future face of the Yankees.
Judge’s Injury History
The Yankees are known for injuries the past year or so, and that doesn’t exclude Judge. However, it does exclude Torres. Matter of fact, Judge has had injury issues for almost four years ago, dating back to his call-up in 2016. Since then, he’s had three injury stints, all costing the right fielder major time.
In September of 2016, shortly after his debut, Judge had a right oblique strain, ending his season. In 2018, Judge took a pitch off the wrist from Kansas City Royals’ starter Jakob Junis, which sidelined him from late July to mid-September. Yes, a fluky, unpredictable injury, but an injury nonetheless. In 2019 Judge strained his left oblique (again against the Royals, ironically enough), and that had him out from late April until June 21.
Most recently, Judge had been missing all of spring training and was slated to miss the start of the regular season with a collapsed lung and a broken rib that took place late last season, believed to be on a diving catch attempt against the Angels at Yankee Stadium.
When Judge is healthy, he’s a force to be reckoned with, but the keyword here is “when.” Over the past few years, the slugger simply hasn’t been on the field much.
Torres is Much Younger
He’s only 23! Torres is much, much younger than Judge, and that’s not saying Judge is old, but rather Torres has more mileage left in the tank than Judge, who just turned 28 on Sunday. Considering Judge is a free agent after the 2023 season and Torres is a free agent following the Summer of 2025, this can give Torres more years to flourish.
It’s very possible, too, that Torres hasn’t even hit his peak yet. I mean, he’s not even 25 and can still hit his prime, which can come around by age 27-29. Even if Torres has hit his peak, this isn’t a bad place to be for the youngster. If he can stay around the mark he’s at right now or even get better, the shortstop can easily be a top-five player in baseball.
Judge, meanwhile, is currently in his prime, most likely. In a few years, he’ll be on the wrong side of 30 while Torres will still be just 25. It’ll be interesting to see if Judge takes a decline once that age marker hits.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying Judge isn’t good. I’m not even trying to say Torres is better. But when you factor in Judge’s injury history the past few years and Torres’ youth, it’s not hard to imagine that the latter is the future superstar of the team, not Judge.