Ronald Torreyes was a bit of an unsung hero for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2021, much to the surprise of. . .well, everyone.
Everyone except manager Joe Girardi. While some of the attachments Girardi has to certain players have come under fire at times, his recommendation in keeping Torreyes on the 26-man Opening Day roster was one of his finer decisions.
But truthfully, Girardi is lucky that the move largely paid off. By now, it's known that Torreyes was managed under Girardi during his time with the New York Yankees from 2016-2017, hence the skipper's allegiance to the 29 year-old.
Torreyes is a utility player at best, but because of Alec Bohm's defensive struggles at third base, and Didi Gregorius' at shortstop, he saw more playing time than typically anticipated.
It also just so happened that Torreyes' bat would spark at the right time, earning him more starts than he probably should have been granted.
This all being said, Torreyes' ability to come through in the clutch and fill defensive holes around the diamond for Philadelphia aren't unappreciated. In fact, it's hard to imagine where the Phillies would have been had Torreyes not exceeded expectations.
In 111 games, with 82 of them being starts, Torreyes batted .242/.286/.346, with 77 hits, 10 doubles, one triple, seven homeruns, 41 RBI, 19 walks, and 41 strikeouts.
Not great offensive numbers by any stretch, especially for a player receiving a bulk of starts. However, Torreyes' numbers with RISP and in the clutch tell a different story of his 2021 season.
With RISP, Torreyes hit .321/.398/.481, with an OPS of .879 and 34 RBI. With two outs and RISP, he hit .297/.409/.486, and in tie games, .304/.314/.435. No wonder Torreyes, nicknamed "Toe" by his teammates, became a fan favorite in such a short amount of time in Philadelphia. To fans, it appeared he was always coming through in the big spots.
As mentioned before, Torreyes also brought solid defense to two positions that had been lacking just that. In 50 games at third, he committed zero errors, had 33 putouts, 69 assists, and turned nine double-plays. In 44 games at shortstop, he collected three errors, 48 putouts, 86 assists, and turned 19 double-plays.
However, whether Torreyes returns to the Phillies in 2022 is currently unknown. As Inside the Phillies previously adressed in our arbitration projections article, Torreyes is one of those players eligible at an estimated $1.6 million. It's difficult to imagine that the luck Torreyes found this past season could be sustained.
President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski has already stated that the organization wants Bohm to be their Opening Day third baseman, and although Gregorius has not been guaranteed Opening Day shortstop, it's likely that the team will decide to upgrade in free agency or hold out for top prospect Bryson Stott.
Torreyes could be brought back to fulfill his original purpose as a utility man, but with budding players such as Nick Maton or Luke Williams, who can satisfy the role for much smaller salaries, it’s hard to see Torreyes returning in 2022.
On the contrary, Girardi's growing influence on roster decisions, his preference of Torreyes, and his reluctance to give opportunities to younger players could see "Toe" in red pinstripes once again next season.
Whichever is Torreyes' fate, he will be remembered fondly by Phillies fans for how he stepped up for the team in 2021 and how he always played with his heart on his sleeve.
More From SI's Inside The Phillies:
- Phillies Trade Scenarios: Who Might Dombrowski Move This Offseason?
- Could Acquiring Starling Marte Make Sense for Phillies?
- Arbitration Projections: Who Will the Phillies Keep?