Per Alex Pavlovic’s Giants Extra blog, the Giants have signed OF Andres Torres to a one-year, $2M deal. Torres, 35 this January, is coming off a down year for the New York Mets, batting just .230/.327/.337 in 434 plate appearances. By measures such as wRC+, Torres was 13-percent below average with the bat in 2012. After posting some truly amazing — and shocking — seasons with the bat in San Francisco, the Andres Torres of more recent times appears to be a below average player on offense.
I wrote a little about Andres on my last piece on ESPN’s SweetSpot blog in a piece entitled ‘Value to be found in non-tendered players’.
Andres Torres, OF – Torres is clearly no longer the batter that he was with the Giants from 2009-2010 when he hit .269/.343/.492 over 740 plate appearances; since then, Torres has batted a meager .226/.320/.334 in 832 PAs. The decline in Torres’ bat moves him from a starting role to a bench role. The good news for Torres is that despite some health issues, he still profiles as an above-average defender in center field and an above-average baserunner. Every team needs a guy like Torres on its bench.
Torres returns as a fan favorite, but the biggest question remains: Will a Torres-Blanco platoon work in LF? It’s difficult to say. While I think it’s probably not a terrible platoon, it’s hard to say, with any certainty, how well Torres actually hits left-handed pitching. The problem with splits is largely sample based. In Torres’ career he’s taken 559 PAs against LHP — or, in other words, nearly one full season of playing time that’s been spread out over eight seasons. Against LHP, Torres owns a career batting line of .258/.340/.403 (104 wRC+). That line looks good, but throw in Torres’ natural decline as a hitter — as a hitter, save for those years in 2009-2010, he was never particularly talented — and the SSS nature of splits, and it’s really, really difficult to say what Torres’ true talent level is at hitting LHP.
Hitting aside, the Giants should be able to boast above-average defense in LF. It’s hard to think of many teams with a better defensive corner unit. Torres still appears to be a an above-average defender and he should rate solidly plus in LF. In Torres and Blanco the team has two center fielders playing a corner OF spot and hopefully they’ll be able to make up for the occasional bad Pagan route.
If Torres can hit LHP at a near league average rate, combined with his defense and running skills, the Giants will be extremely happy. Though, at age 35, he’s somewhat of a risky bet. Health issues have often plagued Andres and players don’t get magically healthier as they age. (He missed 21 games in 2012 with calf issues.) He’s not a bad gamble at $2M, but of all the positions on the 2013 Giants, LF clearly looks like the one with the potential for the most headaches.
Welcome back, Andres. Please don’t be terrible.
Bonus graph: Torres’ splits against LHP since 2009 compared to the league average.
The lineup looks pretty much set at the moment …
1. Pagan, CF
2. Scutaro, 2B
3. Sandoval, 3B
4. Posey, C
5. Pence, RF
6. Belt, 1B
7. Blanco/Torres, LF
8. Crawford, SS