St. Louis Cardinals: Can Jedd Gyorko Repeat his 2016 Performance?
By Trevor Hooth
Jedd Gyorko posted some of the best numbers of his career last year during his first season in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform. It is certainly the hope of fans that he can repeat, if not improve on these numbers.
The first thing to do is to figure out where Jedd Gyorko fits into the puzzle that is the St. Louis Cardinals infield. I wrote not too long ago about his chances to play third during the upcoming year. But he also could fit in at second. That will depend entirely on the play of Kolten Wong. As it stands right now, Wong will start at second, and Gyorko is in need of a position to play.
During the last season, Gyorko hit a career high in home runs (30) and set a career high walk percentage (8.5%). These two stats can correlate with each other. A better eye at the plate translates into getting into better hitters counts, which results in better pitches to hit and drive.
Here is the thing about Gyorko at the plate, he has never reached a .250 average in the Majors. Last season he hit .243, which translated into 97 hits on the year. That means just under 1/3 of his hits were home runs. That may sound like an appealing stat, because if he starts everyday he will hit tons of homers, but I assure you it is not. Especially in a system that historically prides itself on getting runners on and moving them over.
Gyorko’s nine doubles shows a lack of ability to drive the ball to the gap. He can be considered a home run or bust hitter. And while home runs are nice, so are bases clearing doubles to the gap and singles that get rallies started. Swinging for the fences normally leads to a huge flyball rate but in this case, Gyorko hit just as many ground balls as fly balls, showing some selection.
An all or nothing hitter can be very helpful if there are runners on base. Gyorko came up to the plate 199 times with runners on base last season, and he hit 12 home runs and 6 doubles. So he did come through in those situations.
When looking at if Gyorko can repeat, it is important to look at if he has been consistent throughout his career. Which he has. It is also necessary in this case to have the assumption he will get the same amount of playing time as he did last season. With that in mind, yes he can repeat his feats from last season. The 30 homers, maybe not. But everything else should be similar, if not better.
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The main reason for this is the framework of the team. Last year Gyorko was a part of the a team that relied on homers. Now that Brandon Moss and Matt Holliday are gone, and Dexter Fowler joins the team, the team will go back to getting players on and into scoring position. This will give Gyorko more RBI opportunities to create runs without the long ball, which may get him to try and drive the ball to the gap more.
History shows that it does change his approach. While his line drive percentage hovers around 20, when runners are on base fly ball percentage drops by 8% and his ground ball percentage goes up. His approach is no longer to hit it out of the park, but trying to get on top of the ball and keep the line moving.
In three of his four seasons as a Major League player, Gyorko has had a batting average in the .240s. That consistency will be key in him repeating stats from last year. The other important thing to do is to keep working the count. His most successful count from a home run standpoint was 1-0. If he can get his pitches, then a repeat campaign will be easy to reach.
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There is really only one huge obstacle in his way of repeating is the playing time. Wong was on a short leash last year, and if he under performs again Gyorko will have an opening. But the way it stands, Gyorko will play third against left-handed starters. Peralta will be the main guy, but he struggles against lefties.