The New York Yankees, long hated for going out and buying the best available and Major League-proven talent, have pivoted to youths. The results speak for themselves. The Bombers fell a game shy of the World Series last year and are way ahead of schedule. For the third consecutive season, a rookie called up to put on pinstripes is setting the world on fire.
In 2016, catcher Gary Sanchez launched 20 homers in 53 games while posting a 1.032 OPS, enough to make the Rookie of the Year race with Michael Fulmer exceedingly tight. In 2017, it was outfielder Aaron Judge who assumed the mantle of Next Big Thing by hitting a league-high 52 homers, slugging .627 and pushing his OPS to 1.049. This was enough to win AL newcomer honors and finish second in MVP voting.
Now it’s second baseman Gleyber Torres. All he’s done since being called up is hit, and hit for power. He has 8 homers in 93 at-bats and a .323/.385/.613. On Wednesday, he became the youngest Yankee to go yard in three consecutive game. It’s a small sample size but he is, as advertised, a difference-maker.
The Yankees have an embarrassment of riches in the young talent department. The new Core Four is more like an Essential Eight. Yet they’re not a lot of outside love for this exciting new world because they are, after all, the New York Yankees — baseball’s Boston Celtics.
Torres to this point is also flying a bit under the radar because of what fellow rookie Shohei Ohtani is doing with the Los Angeles Angels. It’s difficult to get market share when the other guy is doing Ruthian things on the regular.
There’s also the thought that the endless parade of young talent has dulled the senses. Ohtani, Judge, Sanchez, and so many others in recent years have hit the ground running and posted absurd stats. A 21-year-old coming up and feasting on Major League pitching should be more eyebrow-raising.
Let’s enjoy him and the inevitable next guy who shows up in the Bronx and plays at a world-class level. And the guy after that.