If there is one player on this Giants roster that is hard to project for the rest of the season, it has to be Andres Torres.
Based on statistical data, Torres' 2010 is simply unbelievable considering his history.
Here is Torres' line before he came to San Francisco in 2009:
.210 batting average, .258 OBP, .276 slugging, .534 OPS, .219 wOBA in 89 games between Detroit and Texas from 2002-2005.
Here is what he has done since coming to the Bay Area:
.281 average, .363 OBP, .513 slugging, .877 OPS, .385 wOBA in 118 games with the Giants from 2009-2010.
That's an incredible jump, especially in the categories of OBP (where he jumped 105 points), wOBA (166 points) and slugging (237 points). Basically, Torres turned himself from free hacking, slap hitter (think a poor man's Juan Pierre) to a patient, speedy leadoff hitter with serious pop (think Brady Anderson).
Now, who is the real Torres? Is Torres going to keep up this hitting prowess for the remainder of the 2010 season? Or is he going to fall back to his career numbers prior to his arrival in San Francisco?
Well, Giants fans should believe in the latter and I'll point to you a reason why:
Torres is a different player from his Tiger and Ranger days, and his minor league numbers in 2007 and 2008 and improvement from 2009 to 2010 show that.
Since 2005, Torres pretty much bounced around in Triple-A. He played for four Triple-A clubs from 2005-2009: Oklahoma (Texas), Rochester (Minnesota), Iowa (Chicago), Toledo (Detroit), and Fresno (San Francisco). (He also played for a Double-A club, the Erie Seawolves, in 2007.)
In 2005 and 2006, Torres seemed to be the same player he was in Detroit and Texas (e.g. a slap hitter without much plate patience). He posted a a .743 OPS in 15 games with Oklahoma in 2005 and a .687 OPS (and .317 wOBA) in 118 games with Rochester the following the season.
However, starting in 2007, Torres' numbers took a huge spike...in a good way.
Starting in Double-A Erie, the Tigers' Double-A club, Torres posted solid numbers in 85 games. His OPS improved to .844 in Double-A, his OBP jumped to .372, and he hit 11 triples and six home runs (he had only 11 triples and home runs combined the previous season in Rochester).
Later in the year, Torres was promoted to Toledo, the Tigers' Triple-A club. He continued to show the power he showed in Double-A in the International League. While his OBP went down (to .348), his slugging went up (from .472 in Double-A to .506 in Triple-A) as did his OPS (from .844 to .854). What was the reason for the average jumps? In 42 games, Torres hit nine triples and four home runs.
Now, the OBP drop in Toledo was to be expected. After making progress in drawing walks (Torres has a 0.56 and 0.58 BB/K ratios in 2006 in Rochester and 2007 in Toledo, which included walk rates over 10 percent), he took a step back in Toledo. His BB/K ratio hovered around 0.28, and his walk percentage dropped to 5.8 percent in Triple-A (almost a five point drop from Double-A).
However, the following season in Iowa, Torres brought back his BB/K numbers up to the numbers he put up in Rochester and Erie. In 2008, he finished the year with a 0.53 BB/K ratio (which included an 11.5 percent BB/9). The better part though about his 2008 season? His power didn't drop from Toledo despite the better plate discipline.
With the Cubs, Torres posted a .892 OPS and a .397 wOBA. His wRC (runs created based on wOBA) was 86.7, 28 points higher than his previous high in Double-A in 2007, and in addition to hitting 10 triples, 11 home runs and scoring 91 runs, he also stole 29 bases on 33 attempts.
Granted, Torres put up these numbers as a 30 year old in Triple-A. As evidenced by Joe Borchard this year in Fresno, that doesn't necessarily translate into big league success.
Despite those odds being against him, Torres has succeeded at the Major League level with the Giants. Furthermore, he has shown progression from 2009 as well.
One of the reasons I was skeptical of Torres going into the 2010 season was because of his low BB/K ratio (0.36 in 2009), high O-Swing percentage (29.1 percent), low contact rate (72.3), and low GB/FB percentage (0.69) considering his speed (eight triples and six stolen bases in 170 plate appearances in 2009).
So far, he has improved on those numbers. While his contact rate (81.3 percent in 2010) and GB/FB ratio (0.93; but he's helped by a 26.2 percent line drive percentage) aren't anything special, they certainly are improvements from 2009. However, his main improvement has been in his O-Swing percentage (pitches swung outside the strike zone) and BB/K ratio. He cut down his O-Swing percentage to 23.2 percent and his BB/K ratio sits at 0.76.
Torres has the credentials of a true leadoff hitter in 2010, something you couldn't necessarily say out of him last year based on his stats.
Overall, Torres has been a surprise, and it will be predictable to see his stats regress over time. His BABIP is high at .343, and considering his GB/FB ratio, it is likely that it won't sustain at that level for the remainder of the season.
However, if you look at his overall statistics, Torres has made incredible progress as a Giant, and he should continue to make an impact in the leadoff spot. Now, I know Giants fans worry that he might fall back into the numbers of his Tiger days, but I think Giants fans shouldn't fret. Torres isn't the same player, and his minor league numbers from 2007 and 2008, and his improvement in plate discipline from 2009 to 2010 is proof that that this "San Francisco" Torres is different from the "Detroit" Torres.
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