St. Louis Cardinals: Mr. Stability, Jedd Gyorko?

Jun 11, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Jedd Gyorko (3) turns a double play over Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco (25) during the fourth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Jedd Gyorko (3) turns a double play over Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco (25) during the fourth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite much scrutiny about his defense when acquired, Jedd Gyorko has proved to be just what the St. Louis Cardinals need, a durable middle infielder that can keep the ship afloat.

I will be honest, when John Mozeliak and the St. Louis Cardinals front office acquired infielder Jedd Gyorko from the San Diego Padres, I was never too excited due to Jon Jay being a favorite of mine.  Knowing the Cardinals need for a formidable back-up infielder who could play multiple positions, Mozeliak and the Gyorko signing had me intrigued.

The most concern for Gyorko was if he had a good enough glove for what the St. Louis Cardinals did in 2015. Last year’s team was all about throwing any pitcher on the mound and having full confidence in them to keep the team in games, which was backed by an overall, good defense.

The concern for Gyorko’s defense stems from a 2014 season in which he tallied eleven errors at the second base position. Despite these thoughts, I knew he could be no worse than Pete Kozma was in the back-up role for the St. Louis Cardinals, especially with his power at the plate.

When a player plays in San Diego’s Petco Park, one may not think of them to hit many home runs, however Gyorko managed to defy this thought by hitting 23 homers for the Padres in his rookie year (playing in 125 games). He also managed to hit for a combined 26 long-bombs over the next two seasons in which he had his share of struggles at the plate.

Despite this power, his bat had some baggage with it, hitting for an average of .236 in the three Padres seasons and having eye-popping strikeout numbers by eclipsing the century mark in each season played there. However, 49 home runs in three seasons at Petco Park is nothing to be overlooked.

With all these thoughts gathered together, having Gyorko has a back-up was not as bad as it seemed.  This stands even more true when considering that the Gyorko acquisition meant getting rid of one of the many outfielders that the St. Louis Cardinals had on their roster, Jay, who also had been battling injuries.

In 2016, Jay continues to struggle with injury, only playing 68 games before being sidelined for much of the year looking at mid-September as his likely return.

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In his first month wearing a St. Louis Cardinals jersey, the knack for making poor defensive plays crept back into Gyorko’s game, committing three errors in April, to go along with Aledmys Diaz less than stellar first month of fielding too. Since then, Gyorko has accumulated only three errors from May to present day, two of which have been in August as he has received more playing time due to injuries. Dealing with errors has not been too terrible with the powerful offense that the St. Louis Cardinals boast this season, especially when Gyorko himself makes up for the mistakes.

Gyorko has already exceeded the amount of home runs this season, 18, than he tallied in 2015 (16), doing so in 179 fewer at-bats. Combining that with having better discipline at the dish by keeping his strikeout numbers at a reasonable number, along with his ability to be durable and stay on the field has made the Gyorko-Jay trade an absolute steal by Mozeliak.

Durability to stay on the field is something missing from this year’s St. Louis Cardinals.  To add to this, Jay’s current health status would only have added to this issue for the 2016 Cardinals if he were still on the roster.  Of those injured, the infield for this year’s team seems to have a massive target on its back.

Matt Carpenter and Jhonny Peralta have missed extended time this season being on the disabled list, and Kolten Wong was forced to play a stretch of games in AAA due to poor performances.  Therefore, having a versatile player in Gyorko to fill-in wherever needed has helped the St. Louid Cardinals tremendously– having played games at every infield position (except pitcher and catcher).

His performance at the plate has fluctuated this season, but, in the last two months, Gyorko has been able to keep his batting average in the range of .242-.265.  His average had dipped to as low as .179 in the early months of the 2016 season.

To exemplify his increasing abilities, Gyorko has the second most home runs since the all-star break with 11, trailing only Minnesota Twins second basemen Brian Dozier, who has 12.

Next: St. Louis Cardinals: Time for the kids to shine

When looking back at this season, no matter what happens in the next month-and-a-half, the addition of Jedd Gyorko to this roster may be overlooked.  His production, however, has been invaluable to this organization and, even better, he is signed through 2020, giving the St. Louis Cardinals flexibility in the infield for years to come.