SEATTLE — In 2017, Gleyber Torres was the No. 2 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, trailing only Shohei Ohtani.
The next year, Torres finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting, finishing behind Ohtani and Miguel Andujar.
And at this point in 2019, Torres was headed to his second straight All-Star Game, on his way to 38 homers.
These days, Torres is a mess — and as big a reason as any the Yankees’ season has been such a disappointment.
Before sitting out Tuesday’s series opener against the Mariners with left hamstring discomfort after suffering cramps in the area on Sunday, Torres was showing few signs of snapping a year-long slump that has resulted in subpar numbers and an almost complete disappearance of his power.
Of 22 qualified shortstops, only Oakland’s Elvis Andrus (.588) and Pittsburgh’s Kevin Newman (.517) had a worse OPS than Torres’ .635 entering Wednesday.
Without Torres on Tuesday, the Yankees shifted Gio Urshela from third base to shortstop, with DJ LeMahieu shifting from second base to third and Rougned Odor filling in at second.
Urshela has proved at least capable — if not better — at short, and LeMahieu is at least serviceable at third, so if the Yankees chose to move Torres back to second to see if that might unlock his bat, they could.
His defense has been shaky at short, with Fangraphs ranking him as minus-6 defensive runs saved — although with a slightly above average UZR of 0.8.
However, Urshela made a play on Tuesday deep in the hole to his right that Torres almost certainly wouldn’t have pulled off.
Despite Torres’ better performance while playing second, the Yankees have so far shown no appetite of moving him back there and they remain convinced the answer to Torres’ offensive woes is in his lower half.
A seemingly simple adjustment to Gary Sanchez’s lower half — a change of his leg kick — sparked a resurgence at the plate for the catcher.
They’ve yet to come up with a comparable solution for Torres.
He entered Wednesday without an extra-base hit since June 13 — a span of 16 games. He’d gone 6-for-54 with 10 walks, 18 strikeouts and an OPS of just .361.
Scouts have been as mystified as the Yankees by Torres’ prolonged funk, with his drop in homers near the top of the list of issues.
His homer-to-fly-ball ratio has dropped from 21.5 percent in 2019 to 7.1 last year to just 4.3 percent this season, and his hard-hit percentage has plummeted to the lowest of his career.
The Yankees point to small samples of promise, like the five-game stretch from late April to early May in which Torres showed some flashes.
And after being sidelined with COVID-19 for a little over a week later in May, Torres returned with a flourish, going 11-for-18 with a double, a homer and eight RBIs in five games.
More recently, Torres had a 10-game stretch in June with four extra-base hits, but he’s followed that with his current power outage.
Torres is still just 24, but his early-career breakout is becoming more of a distant memory.
Though he’s far from alone in The Bronx when it comes to subpar performance, he’s certainly fallen as far as any of his teammates, especially with Sanchez rebounding from his poor 2020 and early 2021.