Can Andres Torres Become Baseball's Version of Jake Delhomme?
The San Francisco Giants have a need for speed, and if starting center fielder Aaron Rowand doesn't improve his performance from the last two seasons, journeyman outfielder Andres Torres should be given a shot.
While the chances Torres succeeds long term are minimal, there have been similar stories written in sports.
Current NFL free agent quarterback Jake Delhomme is an example of an athlete who bounced around for awhile before becoming a star.
Delhomme first entered the NFL as undrafted free agent pickup by the New Orleans Saints in 1997. The Louisana native spent a couple of seasons on the Saints' practice squad and in NFL Europe.
After only appearing in a six games from 1997-2002 with New Orleans, Delhomme signed on as a backup with the Carolina Panthers.
During week one of the 2003 season, Delhomme took over the starting job from Rodney Peete and led Carolina to a come from behind 24-23 victory while throwing for three touchdowns in the process.
The Panthers went on to play in the Super Bowl that season with Delhomme at quarterback but lost to the New England Patriots.
Since then Delhomme has been the Panthers' full time starter until being released this offseason.
He may no longer have an employer, but Delhomme's story is one of perseverance.
Now can Giants outfielder Andres Torres do the same?
It is certainly possible.
San Francisco will start the season with the $60 million man Aaron Rowand as the everyday center fielder and leadoff hitter. But Rowand's lack of speed combined with a terrible approach at the plate and a horrendous on-base percentage aren't fit for leadoff.
Torres, on the other hand, has blazing wheels and the potential to blossom into a productive leadoff hitter for the Giants.
In his first year with the Giants last season, Torres posted the following line:
.270/.343/.533/.876 in 152 at-bats
With an OPS of .876, Torres was second on the team behind Pablo Sandoval's mark of .943.
In fact, Torres had such a strong performance in limited playing time that if had he played a full season in the starting lineup at last year's pace, he would have hit 24 home runs, 32 triples, and 24 doubles.
To put that more simply, he was on pace for 80 extra base hits! How can I put that into perspective? Well, Sandoval only had 74 extra base hits.
Torres' speed combined with being a gap to gap hitter made hitting for extra bases at AT&T Park a common occurrence.
Could this impressive stint from Torres simply be an anomaly?
Sure, it probably was nothing but a random offensive outburst in what otherwise will be a disappointing career.
But what if it wasn't?
What if Torres was just a late bloomer? Considering AT&T Park is perfectly suited to Torres' attributes and that the Giants are in need of speed at the top of the order, why can't he at least come close to his '09 performance over increased playing time?
Last season was the first year Torres spent in the National League. Perhaps he is better equipped to hit NL pitching. Nobody can say for certain that his performance from last year was a fluke until he gets a fair shake.
Barring a highly unlikely increase in performance from Rowand, Torres might get his chance to play everyday.
And if he is allowed a couple weeks worth of games in the starting lineup, I'm willing to bet he would at least be more productive than the man he is replacing.
I mean Torres' OPS could drop over 100 points, and it would still be higher than Rowand's 2009 mark of .738.
And who knows? Maybe Torres will shine in the leadoff role and continue to have an OPS over .800.
Despite being 32-years-old, there is still a possiblity of untapped potential with Torres, unlike Rowand who has quickly bottomed out.
Because of that possible potential, Torres should at least be given a shot to prove that his '09 performance was no fluke.
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