Joe Girardi’s favorite utility man (and starting third baseman) showed that he did have some value to the team in 2021, but when you really think about it - he wasn’t very good.
.242/.286/.346, 7 HR, 40 RBI, 41:19 K:BB, 68 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR
When Alec Bohm had his sophomore season turn into a pumpkin, the team needed a replacement. Scouring their farm system, since so much was depending on Bohm being good, there wasn’t really a third baseman close to the majors that was readily available, unless you consider Nick Maton to be a third baseman. As crazy as that might seem, Girardi didn’t think Maton would work there, so instead he had to look down his bench. Lo and behold, there was Ronald Torreyes. “He’s got a solid glove”, thought Girardi, “why not try him there?”
And a solid glove he did have. While manning the hot corner, Torreyes did manage to have +4 OAA there, which if we lowered the minimum chances to 100, would have placed him tied for ninth among all third baseman with that many chances. When I started this report card, I went into it thinking that the positive reputation Torreyes had amongst the fanbase when it came to his defense would have been purely subjective. Turns out I was pretty wrong - he’s actually really good with the glove. His numbers are shortstop and second base weren’t embarrassing either, though his range became more of an issue at those two spots.
Unfortunately for Torreyes, “designated fielder” is not a position created for teams to utilize yet. Using Torreyes for a short two or three week span to start at third base wouldn’t have been an issue had they only planned on helping Bohm steady his feet either with a platoon situation or a brief demotion to clear his head. What really became the issue was when Girardi became infatuated with putting Torreyes in the lineup repeatedly, letting him accrue 344 plate appearances on the year.
It’s not as if he isn’t a useful player. Those OAA numbers show that he has some ability with the glove and can be useful to a team that at times used their gloves as a way to keep the bees away. But as soon as Torreyes was used so much, he became more and more exposed as a lacking offensive player. He doesn’t walk (5.5% of the time), has very little power and though he didn’t strike out much, he still didn’t get on base enough to justify his playing over someone like Maton or Luke Williams. The point isn’t that those two aren’t superior players (they really might not be), it’s that the manager continued to insist on Torreyes getting at bats even though the team clearly needed more offensive output up and down the lineup. Using Torreyes late in a game would have been fine, but if someone like Maton was available to use, maybe he should have started more often and Torreyes could have been brought in later during one of Girardi’s beloved double switches.
Torreyes is what he is: a solid 26th man on a roster that can help do some things that a team might need help with (a bunt, a defensive subtitution). He’s the type of player that can get exposed if used too much, and that’s exactly what happened in 2021. It was another managerial misfire from Girardi in a season full of them.
Torreyes was already outrighted off of the 40-man roster and chose free agency as opposed to the minors. While he should not get a major league contract from anyone, if there was one team I would bet on their giving him one, it’s Girardi and the Phillies.
Final grade: C-
I appreciate a good glove at third base just as much as the next guy/gal. In the age of three true outcomes, it’s refreshing to see someone who can execute the fundamentals like Torreyes can. He’s a guy I wouldn’t mind seeing on my bench if I were a big league manager.
I just wouldn’t let him get to the plate 344 times in a season.