Yankees’ Gleyber Torres continues to dominate Orioles pitching

If Gleyber Torres played every game against the Baltimore Orioles, he would be destined for a plaque at Cooperstown.

Unfortunately for Torres, the Orioles only make 19 appearances a year. And it must be a relief for the O’s when the bombers move on to face another enemy.

The Yankees infielder not only posts insane offensive stats against Baltimore every year, he does it in a way designed to publicly embarrass the entire franchise.

After a two-homer attempt against his favorite opponent in Tuesday night’s wild Yankees win, Torres was in predictable high spirits.

“Sure, I feel good,” he said succinctly.

Ahead of Wednesday’s rubber match, the Yankees have a 46-17 record against Baltimore since Torres’ debut on April 22, 2018. Yes, this entire period coincides with the ongoing rebuilding of the Orioles, but a .730 win ratio against every major league team is still mind-blowing.

As for Torres, his individual numbers against the Orioles keep producing double and triple takes to verify they’re actually correct.

For his career, Torres (who has more plate appearances against the O’s than any other team) has a swollen chest of .323./397/.642 slash against the Baltimore Birds. With 18 home runs, 16 doubles and a triple against her, Torres records an extra base hit about every seven times he pits against a pitcher dressed in black and orange. His 1,039 OPS Off Orioles’ pitching is 44 points higher than against any other team he has played at least 10 games against. He has 47 RBI and 43 runs made in 64 games. In short, he becomes an absolute terror every time the Orioles raid Yankee Stadium or he drives down I-95 to Camden Yards.

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To dig deeper, some of Torres’ most bullied pitchers of his career are current or former Orioles. Against John Means, the team’s rumored ace of the last four years, Torres is 3-for-8 (.375) with a trio of walks. Mychal Givens, the longtime Orioles aide who escaped the team via trade in 2020 and hasn’t faced Torres since, gave up 1,200 OPS in 12 plate appearances.

Then there’s poor David Hess.

Hess spent 2018-2020 rotating between the Orioles’ starting rotation and bullpen and is currently in the Rays’ organization. Torres and Hess have clashed 11 times while Hess was playing for Baltimore. Three of those matchups ended in hits, and they were all home runs. Three more led to a walk. The only time Hess has ever hauled Torres out has been flyballs into the outfield, all of which are rated “deep” by Baseball-Reference. He was never able to hit Torres or even get him to hit the ball on the ground.

While the Orioles have kept him at bay for most of this season, Torres has made Bruce Zimmermann the new object of his torment. Both of Torres’ homers hit Zimmermann Tuesday night, against whom he now has 1,625 OPS in nine encounters.

The whole Torres-Baltimore thing is both a fun glimpse into baseball’s inherent randomness and an interesting demonstration of Torres as a player. When facing teams with a losing record, Torres’ OPS is 0.830. Against teams above .500, it shrinks to .746. While being able to thrive against bad teams and fall behind against good teams isn’t exactly a revolutionary idea, and certainly not exclusive to Torres, it does speak to some of his limitations.

To be the type of player the Yankees envisioned when they were traded for him, Torres must compete against good teams and not shy away from them. After a lot of pressure was taken off his shoulders this season (both by not playing shortstop and by the Yankees’ overall success throwing him off the radar), Torres has bounced back from his miserable 2021 season.

Now if the Yankees can only get him to see a cartoon oriole on every pitcher he faces, they have the player of their dreams.

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