Joseph Pytleski

Listen, I’ll be the first to admit that Jedd Gyorko had a very intriguing year. Any rookie to put up 23 HR with above-average counting stats, and an ISO of .195 at the keystone is all right in my book. The nicest part about his year was that you probably didn’t pay much to acquire him, or you jumped on the chance to buy low when he went down with a groin injury in June and July. Yes, indeed, by all accounts it was a positive campaign for the Pads’ new 2b.

Taking a closer look, however, I’m just not feeling the love that is vaulting this guy into the top 5 overall 2b category, and I’m one who’s partial to jumping aboard with young, talented players like Gyorko.

First, Gyorko has bad plate discipline: a bad BB-rate (6.3%) with an equally poor 23% K-rate, coupled with an atrocious contact rate (60%) and below average swinging-strike rate (13%). None of these portend future success as a hitter, as evidenced by his .249 BA, and .301 OBP.

Second, he doesn’t run. Fantasy managers typically look to get speed out of the middle infield spot. Considering Jedd stole 20 bases…in his entire MiLB career, stole 1 base last year (along with 1 CS), and spent a month on the shelf with a groin injury, I’m assuming the speed is not his forte.

Third, there’s no guarantee that he’ll stay at 2b long-term. With the Padres continuing to fail at locking up Chase Headley as their long-term 3b, there could be talk of moving Gyorko over to the hot corner and letting Corey Spangenburg take the reigns at the keystone. In that case, Gyorko’s power wouldn’t play there nearly as well from a fantasy perspective.

And so we come to fourth, Gyorko’s power. Is it for real? It is true that he whacked 23 HR last year (2nd only to Robinson Cano at 2b), sported a .444 SLG%, and has a great MiLB track record of putting up enormous power numbers (albeit in the PCL). Furthermore, his batted ball data seems to support the fact that when he makes contact, he’s making good contact (above average LD%, GB%, and FB%, along with an almost 16% HR/FB ratio). While some may be quick to point out that PETCO is a power-killer, the data says differently. PETCO ranked 17th in the league in HR allowed in 2013. Obviously moving in the fences has made it at least a bit more HR-friendly.

All this said, color me skeptical. Taking a quick glance at the ESPN Home Run Tracker I find that 12 of Gyorko’s 23 HR were of the “Just Enough” variety, and 2 more were straight “Lucky.” We’re talking about 61% of his HR being classified as barely enough to get over the wall. So, when I see a guy who doesn’t walk, whiffs a lot, who has a low-contact rate, and who now has the unenviable task of going around the league a second time when the book is out on him…I’m raising some red flags.

Expecting regression in the HR/FB rate is a given, and if even half of those lucky HR end up being doubles or caught on the track, then you’re talking about a guy who could maybe go .260/.310/.400 with 15 HR and no speed. I’m not saying that won’t be valuable as a 2b (at least for next year), but I’m pretty sure I could get that amount of production from Neil Walker or Chase Utley much later in a draft (or much cheaper) and be just as happy with myself.

If someone is valuing this guy as a top-5 option, by all means sell. If you can still secure him on the cheap do so. He’s young and there’s still room for growth–but I think his value will be inflated for 2014.

(Photo courtesy of SD Dirk via Flickr)

 

6 comments on “Don’t Be a Gyork(Jerk)-o

  1. “First, Gyorko has bad plate discipline”

    He had bad discipline in his first taste of the majors. If he also had bad discipline in the minors I’d be concerned, but that is not the case. He average about 9% walk rate and 17% k rate throughout his minor league career which is not bad at all. I expect his walk rate to climb and his k rate to decline this year.

    • Dan SchwartzDan Schwartz on said:

      Yeah I thought he had like a 72+% contact rate…also his Power related peripheral all jumped in 2nd half…fb up, iffb down, hr/fb up…I think there’s enough room for discipline related growth where I’m still very bullish on him as a 2b next year and fine with him as a better freese as soon as 2015

      • Joseph Pytleski on said:

        Dan,

        2nd half K-rate up, BB-rate down, but you’re right on the other stuff. My main point is not that he doesn’t have room to grow (I mentioned that in the article), just saying he’s going to be a risk where he’s going to be drafted this year.

    • Joseph Pytleski on said:

      MJ,

      I’m not quite sure on where I stand on the correlation between minor league plate discipline and MLB. Obviously it means SOMETHING, but I’m not sure how much. I think it’s safe to say that Gyorko has a idea of what he’s doing at the plate, and thus, can make some adjustments (STEAMER projects a 3% drop in K-rate next year). However, the book will be out on him as well, so I’m not sure we’ll see significant improvement although I’m sure he’ll get better in some places. My biggest concern, and I’m more with Keith Law on this (I believe), that he’s not the power-bat that he showed in the minors and last year. I’m probably stepping out here, but I’m taking the under on 20 HR next year. I’ll probably be in the minority and it’s a bold prediction. We’ll see.

      • Dan SchwartzDan Schwartz on said:

        Disciplines one of the more translatable segments of a players overall skill set…just takes a few years naturally for them to catch up to their ceilings. Gyorkos a stud 2b….have him in tier 3 with altuves overall value…he just drops off when he’s not 2b eligible and 3b dropss off by ’15 so he will still be valuable. Wright beltre will drop off by then, miggy might not be there, moustaks yet to live up, arods donezo, arenado should develop power by then but gyorko should contain long term value…this is just another perspective.

        • Joseph Pytleski on said:

          That’s definitely realistic as we’re all playing the prediction game. I love that Dan is bullish though–if I had him I’d sell to you!

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