Underrated Player: Yorvit Torrealba

Take a glimpse behind the plate. Where's the Ageless Wonder and all his rippled muscles? In the dugout. Because Benito's performance has not been too impressive recently, he's seen more pine than dirt, and Yorvit Torrealba has been given more chances to wear his mask.

I'm not a stats person. I don't like to write based on stats, nor do I like to read them, but since Yorvit Torrealba was a last minute choice for this series of articles, I gathered as many stats as I could on this back up catcher because I, like many other fans and spectators, don't know a lot about this young player. I stared at the stats and didn't know what else to do with them.

After I watched Benito Santiago struggle in game two of the last Dbacks series, and noticing myself breathe a sigh of relief when Torrealba came into the game, I deleted all my stats and started over again.

It's no mystery that this talented young receiver does a great job behind the plate and defensively, but this season he has really evolved into a respected force to pitchers. And his offense? Try being on base three times and getting two RBIs, one on a bunt single, in his last start.

This is no shot at Benito. I, like many other fans, love Benito and appreciate all he's done for this ball club, but this is the reality: Benito's years are getting to him. Despite being called the "Ageless Wonder," Benito wears out fairly easily now, and once he does, his offense is in disarray and he just doesn't have the speed to react defensively. Plus, I don't remember the last time Benito threw a base stealer out.

Yorvit has to give Benito some credit, though. He can't say that spending all this time behind a veteran force like Santiago isn't partially responsible for the player he's bloomed into today.

Benito will continue to be the starting catcher for this team, but the Giants will highly take into consideration the growing career of Yorvit when the free agents are released in the off season. There goes that awful "O" word again. I apologize.

Back to the topic at hand. In the beginning, Yorvit was unable to handle pitchers, especially the young ones. Recall Jerome Williams' first start as a Giant. He was doing fine when throwing to Benito, but when Santiago had to leave the game and Yorvit took over, everything fell apart, including Williams.

Since then, Yorvit has earned the respect of the young pitchers as well as the veteran arms. He calls a good game and is learning which pitches to make and when to make them, not to mention his defense and amazing ability to pick base runners off. When he sees a situation present itself, Yorvit will trot to the mound and have a meeting with the pitcher and the infielders, telling them to get ready for the bunt, and to get ready for the play to go to second or third base. Like Benito, he is a force behind the plate and is slowly but surely earning the respect he deserves from other players around the league.

So how nameless and underrated is Yorvit? He went on the bereavement list because his grandmother passed away about the same time Barry Bonds was on the bereavement list after Bonds' father passed away, but that was overlooked compared to Bonds, and understandably so, because Bonds is a superstar and Yorvit... Isn't.

Still, it made me a little nervous to watch the old Viking behind the plate and knowing that Yorvit wasn't sitting in the dugout ready for action. Benito is a great player, and any team would love to have him in their ball club, but he just has not been producing. Yorvit has, and it's gone rather unnoticed, not by Giants fans, but by the league.

Maybe the league should start getting used to it. At the rate Yorvit's going, and at the rate Benito's NOT going, it'll be tough to bet against Yorvit getting the starter job next season.

On deck: Tim Worrell

Sara Kwan was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area. She currently writes game recaps, other articles, and is the Giant Prophet for SFDugout.com. Any comments or questions about the article, baseball, or the meaning of life can be sent to Sara at kwanchino@alpha-q.net

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