The Yankees can rest easy because their young star second baseman Gleyber Torres is fine after getting drilled in the wrist by a 90-plus mph fastball over the weekend. He stayed in the game and the Yankees are certainly elated that he checked out fine.
After being rightfully named AL Rookie of the Month for May, Torres has certainly lived up to the billing of being a high-impact player at just 21 years old. During the calendar month, Torres hit .317 with nine home runs and 24 RBI to go with a .374 OBP. He has certainly looked like a player that is wise beyond his years. Yes, he has not played completely clean baseball with some errors at second base, but you would expect that would lessen when he gains more experience at the major-league level. Torres is as good as advertised.
With that being said, we need a little bit of a reality check on him as well. He is sensational and looks like the potential for him is limitless. Just because he has ‘star’ written all over his game, does not mean that he will become a legendary Yankee.
There is a difference between an All-Star player and a legend. When I grew up, Don Mattingly was one of the best players in the majors and was the captain of the Yankees. It looked like he was well on his way to a Hall-of-Fame career. Unfortunately, injuries took their toll and even though Mattingly had a great career, he fell short of Cooperstown.
Even though he was a great Yankee, he was not a legendary Yankee. He does not belong with the likes of Mantle, Ruth, Gehrig, Berra and Jeter, just to name a few.
So, can we just let Torres continue to develop and mature without placing unrealistic expectations on his shoulders?
He is not the next Derek Jeter and he is not the next Roberto Alomar at second base. He is the first Gleyber Torres.
I know, I know. We all love to compare players from different generations and are always looking to grade out initial impact or potential. It’s fun and I get it, but I also know that you are going to be disappointed if the player does not live up to realistic expectations.
Let me bring up an example from another sport that I think serves as a lesson for all of us a sports lovers. Former USC star Harold Miner was nicknamed ‘Baby Jordan’ in the early 90’s because of the style in which he played basketball. Miner was never Jordan and just because you stick your tongue out when driving to the rim, does not mean you will be the next anything, no less Jordan. My point is this, as everyone searches for the next Jeter, I think you need to appreciate what Jeter did and what he accomplished for the Yankees organization.
Torres looks like he is going to be a great Yankee, that does not mean he will take on the legendary status that Jeter earned.
Nobody is going to be the next Derek Jeter for the Yankees. Jeter will have no heir. He finished his career holding eight Yankees records including hits, singles, doubles and stolen bases. He helped the Yankees win five World Series titles, his last being in 2009. He was also an attraction off the field and his marketability was off the charts. Just ask Nike.
Jeter was not just a puzzle piece in the championship runs, he was a key cog. His clutch gene was off the charts. His ability to take charge at a key moment and his desire to win was immeasurable.
So, before you give me some ‘hot take’ that Torres is the next Jeter and give me a headline or write a column, I think you need to appreciate the player Jeter was. It is amazing how people so quickly forget what he was as a player. We can all appreciate the young brilliance of Torres without losing our minds. He needs to accomplish so much to reach the level of Jeter. Is it impossible? No. Is it improbable? Yes.
Legends earn their status every step of the way. And to be a legend with the Yankees is something that is not easily earned. Jeter did and even in retirement, he is not getting the respect of his accomplishments that he so richly deserves. It is not a slight to Torres, but it is RE2PECT for Jeter.