With all the hype surrounding Gleyber Torres, Tyler Wade has become something of an afterthought for the New York Yankees. That’s a mistake.
It’s been said that you should never trust a man with two first names. When it comes to Tyler Wade, the New York Yankees should toss that out the window, as the 23-year-old is the team’s best choice to handle second base on Opening Day.
That’s not a knock on Gleyber Torres, the team’s über-talented top prospect who is, without question, the long-term answer at the keystone in the Bronx. Heck, we here at ESNY have Torres batting seventh in our “Best Case” lineup for the Yanks.
Your Yankees BEST CASE lineup in 2018.
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) February 18, 2018
Now, it’s true that Wade didn’t do much of anything at the plate in his first taste of the big leagues in 2017. Over 30 games, he posted an anemic .155/.222/.224 slash line with a 30.2 percent strikeout rate. Torres seems like a stone cold lock to crush those numbers.
But it’s not like he’s always been a light-hitting player. Over parts of five minor league seasons, Wade owns a career .275/.355/.364 slash line. He slashed .310/.382/.460 over 85 games in his first stint with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders in 2017.
With such a stacked lineup, the Yankees don’t necessarily need a superstar at second base. If Wade landed somewhere between his career numbers in the minors and his performance at Triple-A last year, that’d be more than enough production at the position.
To his credit, Wade believes failing at the plate in 2017 is only going to make him a better hitter.
“You learn from failure,” Wade, a left-handed hitter, told NJ Advance Media’s Randy Miller. “I failed, and I think it kind of worked to my benefit because I changed up a lot of things in the offseason. Triple-A to the big leagues is a big difference. I changed my hands and I’m bending my legs a little bit more, which is going to allow me to get to more pitches. I’m more direct. It’s less movement for me.
“I think when normal reps come, I’m going to hit in the big leagues.”
In fact, according to the YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits, Wade spent part of the offseason refining his swing with a future first-ballot Hall of Famer:
Tyler Wade worked with Albert Pujols on his swing this past offseason. With Pujols’ guidance he made adjustments which now allow him to better handle inside pitches. Wade told me “ it’s night and day” feels good about where he is at offensively coming into ST #yankees
— Meredith Marakovits (@M_Marakovits) February 20, 2018
Say what you will about Pujols circa 2018, but when you get a chance to learn from one of the best hitters of the past 20 years, you don’t pass up the chance.
The offense won’t be a problem for the Yankees, but they are short on speed heading into 2018. Wade helps solve that problem. Over the last two seasons, he’s gone 53-for-66 in stolen base attempts. Torres has some speed, but he’s not nearly as polished a base-stealer, swiping 60 bags in 100 career attempts.
Having two players (Wade and Brett Gardner) that can cause problems for the opposition when they get on base at either end of the lineup, well, that’s not a bad thing.
Neither is experience at the keystone, something Wade has far more of than Torres.
|Career G at 2B||Career Innings at 2B||Errors|
In fact, of Torres’ 11 career games at second base, only six of them have come in the minor lagues—five came when he participated in the 2016 Arizona Fall League. Wade played 15 games (11 starts) at second for the Yanks in 2017 and held his own.
At worst, Wade’s defense is on par with Starlin Castro‘s. While it’s easy to take shots at Castro’s glovework now that he’s gone, the truth is that most Yankees fans would have been perfectly happy had Castro remained the starter at the position to open 2018.
Wade isn’t likely to win any Gold Glove Awards for his defense, but he’s certainly solid. Torres has Gold Glove upside, but he still needs more reps at the position.
He can get that, without any pressure, back at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Lest we forget, Torres, for all of his accolades and hype, has played a total of 55 games above Single-A. That’s it.
Giving Wade the Opening Day nod and letting Torres get a bit more experience in the minors would also delay his service-time clock from starting, something general manager Brian Cashman insists won’t play into their final decision.
“It’s not part of my evaluation process,” Cashman told Newsday’s David Lennon. “We’re trying to win. If we feel that somebody could benefit from more time in the minors, we’ll make that decision at the end of camp. But I’ll take all the information from what I see and factor that into the evaluation. Every win for us is valuable.”
Cashman is saying all the right things, but delaying Torres’ service-time clock from starting has to be a part of the decision-making process.
There’s absolutely no reason to sacrifice a full year of control over a potential franchise player in Torres. Not when they’ve got a perfectly serviceable replacement—one with upside, nonetheless—already on the roster in Wade. Even with the recent acquisition of Brandon Drury from Arizona, Wade should be the choice in the Bronx.