HOUSTON — In 2011, in his second season with the Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton, 21, hit 34 home runs.
At 22, he hit 37, which helped him lead the majors with a .608 slugging percentage.
And still Stanton, the NL MVP in 2017, said there’s no comparison between himself at 22 at the plate and 22-year-old teammate Gleyber Torres, who continues to be on fire this postseason.
“I’d say he’s just a better overall hitter,” Stanton said. “I was very free- swinging at that age, swing as hard as I could. I wasn’t as good an overall hitter as he has been in this little bit of time he’s been in the big leagues.”
Torres, who finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting last season after hitting .271 with 24 homers and 77 RBIs and an .820 OPS in 123 games, followed that up by hitting .278 with 38 homers, 90 RBIs and an .871 OPS in 144 games this season.
That roll has continued into October.
After going 5-for-12 with a homer, three doubles, four RBIs and a 1.378 OPS in the Yankees’ three-game sweep of the Twins in the ALDS, Torres went 3-for-5 with five RBIs in the ALCS Game 1 victory over the Astros on Saturday night. That ran his four-game postseason total to 8-for-17 with two homers, four doubles, nine RBIs, six runs, one walk and two stolen bases.
“Smart. Confident. And when you have talent, that's a really good combination,” said Aaron Boone, whose Yankees tried to take a 2-0 ALCS lead on Sunday night. “He's always had that since he's come to the big leagues and he just plays the game with kind of a free and easy way and a confidence about his game. And I think the intelligence part is big because it's allowed him to continue to grow and get better at all of the little things. He comes into the game prepared. He likes playing these situations and he's confident in his ability to produce. And that leads to a dangerous player.”
At 22 years, 303 days old, Torres became the third player in MLB history under the age of 23 to record five RBIs in a postseason game, joining Andruw Jones, who was 19 when he did it in Game 1 of the 1996 World Series against the Yankees, and the Cubs' Addison Russell, who was 22 when he drove in six runs in Game 6 of the 2016 World Series at Cleveland.
Torres' teammates and manager long ago ran out of superlatives regarding him but keep trying nonetheless.
“He's relaxed, very relaxed, very confident,” DJ LeMahieu said before Game 2. “And he's got his power swing and he's got his put-the-ball-in-play swing. And for a 22-year-old to kind of have two approaches and to know when to use both, it's impressive.”
Torres is so confident that before Game 1, he told Aaron Judge that for the second straight postseason game, he would be receiving the championship belt that is awarded in the clubhouse after each regular-season and playoff victory.
“I said, ‘We’ll see about that. I know you’re going to have a good game, but we’ll see,’ ” Judge said late Saturday night.
Torres got the hardware in Minneapolis after ALDS Game 3 and, as he prophesized, took it home after ALCS Game 1.
“He proved it tonight,'' Judge said. "He just comes in every day ready to work. Doesn’t care if it’s a big situation, he’s going to go out there and produce.”
Torres is not surprised that he has had so much success so soon.
“I mean, not really,” he said. “During my career in the minor league, I prepared really well myself for every situation. I take all the experience and now I just put all the experience in my game. Prepare really well to be here and help my team. So now I get the opportunity. I just [try to] be patient and just go to the ballpark, play hard and try to win all the games.”
Going into Sunday night, in this postseason, Torres and the Yankees had done exactly that.