by Ray Kuhn
When the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Jedd Gyorko, considered a perennial disappointment based on his long term contract and the expectations it brought, the move was questioned. With Jhonny Peralta sidelined for the next two to three months with a thumb injury, the depth Gyorko provides has value (as long as the team fails to acquire an alternative). That value is clear for the Cardinals, but should fantasy owners share that optimism?
For starters the fact that Gyorko will now receive regular at bats from a weak shortstop position while also retaining eligibility at second base has to count for something. The question is just how much? Also, can we guarantee that it will be Gyorko who slides into Peralta’s spot in the lineup?
Greg Garcia is more of a utility/bench option, so while he might take Peralta’s roster spot it is unlikely that he will take much of the playing time. After playing 28 games at shortstop last season, and arriving for Jon Jay this winter, Gyorko and his pedigree will get the first crack at the job.
Should he falter the Cardinals will likely take a closer look at Aledmys Diaz, who has just 14 games above Double-A. Last season Diaz hit .264 with 10 HR and 46 RBI in Double-A before hitting .380 with three long balls and driving in six runs at Triple-A. At this point Diaz appears to be a name to file away.
Gyorko burst onto the scene in 2013 for the Padres and hit 23 HR while driving in 63 runs in 486 AB. Over the past two seasons he has battled expectations from that debut and a back injury, while never truly finding his footing. After spending June in the minor leagues last season, Gyorko rebounded and finished the season with 16 HR and 57 RBI in 421 AB.
If we look at Gyorko’s expected Power Index, per Baseball HQ, the quick answer is that he can match last season’s numbers with 400+ AB. Last season his actual PX trailed his xPX by a substantial amount; 96 to 130. Additionally both his 14% HR/FB rate and his 37% fly ball rate appear to repeatable based on his performances from 2013 and 2014. There was also a noticeable bump to his metrics in the second half last season once he returned from the minors.
You can’t expect much from Gyorko in the average department, as his contact rate and expected batting average don’t point to an average higher than .240 to .250. However he will be part of a strong lineup with St. Louis and has shown the ability to be a run producer and hit a HR about every 25 to 30 at bats. That puts Gyorko in The top 10 for long balls among shortstops and he is worth a look as a value play in the middle infield.
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