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)