St. Louis Cardinals infielder Jedd Gyorko has cooled off a bit as of late after starting the year hitting the ball very well.
In a previous article I painted Jedd Gyorko as a one trick pony who can only hit home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals. That is because last year a third of his hits were home runs. That is an impossible pace to keep. It looks like this year he is more versatile.
Well, he is no longer on the impressive home run pace. He is currently at nine bombs through sixty-two hits. That means he puts one over the fence one in every seven hits; much more of a realistic pace that means the twenty-eight-year old may be maturing as a hitter.
The result of this is a batting average of .291. Much higher than the .243 mark from last year. Whatever changed in Gyorko’s approach this year is showing results. But here is the thing, there is not much in the physical results that has changed. There must be a mental change, or the ball is just bouncing the right way for him now.
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It is funny how baseball is. Part of the issue with Gyorko from last year was his fly ball percentage of 40.3. The immediate thought is that with a higher average he would be driving the ball more. But in reality his fly ball percentage is 41.1 this year. His line drive percentage has not changed at all. He has gone from 19.0 percent to 19.1 percent.
There is only one real change to his approach, and that is his willingness to go with the ball this year. In past seasons, Gyorko has been a heavy pull hitter. When hitting the ball in 2016 his percentages were 45.2/33.1/21.6. The difference in 2017 is the reason he is hitting fewer home runs and getting more hits overall.
His new approach puts his percentages at 38.3/32.1/29.6. He is no longer consistently hitting it to one field, he has waited to hit the ball where it is thrown.
That is great and it will help him be a better hitter overall. But his strikeout percentages are rising and his walk percentages are falling. That is not a good trend to have at the plate. It somewhat takes away from his average. It is approaching the point where if Gyorko doesn’t get a hit then he is unproductive.
While it is commendable that Gyorko has worked to become a more reliable bat, he is not all the way there yet. He still needs to jump over a few more hurdles to get to a place where he can be considered a consistent bat. The use of all fields is a huge step in the right direction though.