While Bryce Harper is making a push to become the National League Most Valuable player, another player on the Phillies has become the Phillies’ MVP: Ronald Torreyes.
The 28-year old first signed as an amateur free agent with the Cincinnati Reds in 2010. Over the next few years, he would bounce around the Minors spending time in the Cubs, Astros, and Blue Jays organizations before being purchased from the Jays by the Dodgers in 2015. Torreyes made his MLB debut on September 13th, 2015. Over eight games in 2015, Torreyes managed to record two hits in six at-bats.
During the 2015 offseason, Torreyes was acquired by the New York Yankees, the team that he would call home for the next three seasons. While with Girardi’s Yankees, Torreyes played in 221 games over the course of the three seasons amassing a .281 BA, a .682 OPS, and four home runs. Torreyes mostly acted as a utility player for the Yankees, seeing action at third base, shortstop, and second base depending on the day.
A Depth Move
The Venezuelan infielder first joined the Phillies prior to the 2020 season. A non-roster invitee on a minor-league contract, he was going to need to earn his reps while being looked at mostly as a depth addition. Given “Toe’s” history with Girardi, it was a logical acquisition to get Girardi someone he is familiar with to call upon as necessary. Over the course of the 2020 season, Torreyes would appear in four games while accruing one hit in seven at bats.
Torreyes returned to the Phillies on a similar deal ahead of the 2021 season. After a strong showing in Spring Training, Toe earned himself an Opening Day roster spot and did not look back.
Ronald Torreyes: Jack of All Trades
After an asymptomatic bout with COVID-19 kept Torreyes on the shelf throughout the second half of April into May, Torreyes returned to the Phillies on May 18th. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Toe entered the tie game as a pinch-hitter, smacking a two-RBI double.
On that same day, Didi Gregorius also went down with an elbow injury. Torreyes stepped up as the Phillies’ starting shortstop for the new month and a half until Gregorius returned.
Having proven his worth during Gregorius’ absence, Torreyes began to see regular starts throughout the month of July. Whether it was covering for an injury or giving a player an extra day off, Toe was finding his way into almost every lineup. On the month, Torreyes went 16-for-57 at the plate with nine walks for an overall OPS of .794.
Replacing Alec Bohm
Alec Bohm has had a rough go at it this year. A true sophomore slump, Bohm owns a mediocre .654 OPS on the year and has been abysmal in the field. In fact, Bohm is in the bottom eight percent of all fielders with a -4 OAA.
Torreyes, by comparison, sits in the 78th percentile of the League with an OAA of 2. So while Torreyes does not possess the power nor the overall potential of Alec Bohm, he is the superior option at the hot corner while the Phillies struggle to make defensive plays.
Torreyes has now started at third base for five consecutive games in a row. On Saturday, Torreyes went 3-for-4 with a solo home run against Luis Castillo and the Reds. While Girardi has gone on the record stating that this is simply a ‘reset’ for Bohm, it will be hard to choose Bohm over Torreyes if he continues to play as he has of late.
Is Now His Time to Shine?
On the season, Torreyes owns a .273 BA and a .721 OPS. While those statistics are not impressive in and of itself, what is impressive is that Torreyes only strikes out 10.5% of the time. The MLB average in SO% is 22.0%. Torreyes puts the ball in play more than just about anyone in the League and is a strong defensive asset for the Phillies.
So while Torreyes will not win any major awards this offseason, he has proven himself an integral part of this Phillies team. From making contributions on both sides of the ball to filling in at just about any spot on the field, Toe is not the most glamorous player on the Phillies, but one who gets work done each day and whom the Phillies could not win the division without.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire