Today I will be posting three projections, rather than the customary two or yesterday's one. The reasoning behind this is that I will be looking at three guys who are all in the same boat in my mind this year. Jose Martinez, Jedd Gyorko, and Yairo Munoz are all going to be really fighting hard for playing time behind Ozuna, Fowler, O'Neill (who is also on the bench), Matt Carpenter, Paul DeJong, Kolten Wong, and Paul Goldschmidt. I am currently giving the 3 of them (and O'Neill) 415 PA apiece for now. We'll see how the spring goes to see if those projections need to change based on PA allocation.
“Uncle Jedd” Gyorko is entering his 4th season as an infielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. He has received 438, 481, and 402 plate appearances by his managers over the last three years. It might be harder to find PA this year with an infield of Carpenter, DeJong, Wong, and Goldschmidt entering spring training. Then again, Gyorko has simply found plate appearances each and ever year despite being destined as the bench bat each year. While I don’t like his infield defense up the middle and I believe he’s basically a third baseman playing all the spots, filling in during a pinch wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world at any spot on the infield (although there’s no reason for him to play 1B this year because if Goldy’s out, then Carpenter should move over and Gyorko would be the third baseman).
In Gyorko’s 3 years and just over 1,300 PA with the Cardinals, he has a .259/.331/.463/.794 line - good for a 111 OPS+. He’s averaged 16 doubles, 1 triple, and 20 homers per 440 PA, which is close to the 415 PA I have projected him for. Here is that projection:
49 runs, 17 doubles, 1 triple, 17 homers, 54 RBI
21.0 K%, 9.6 BB%, 3 SB, 1 CS
So those numbers are slightly worse than his STL averages, but it’s better than last year’s numbers and would still be above league average. Let’s compare that to the four infield spots and see where his bat fits best, as we know his glove fits best at third base.
As you can see, the bat just doesn’t play as a first baseman. It is well above average at the middle infield, but his glove is below average there. It’s still well above average at third base and truthfully, with his glove there, he’s an above average 3rd baseman with this projection. It’s scary that he may not even get the 415 PA I am projecting because our infield is loaded.
How/If things go wrong:
Unlike Jose Martinez, Gyorko has been much worse in his career when not starting. Both as a sub and as a pinch hitter, his OPS is well under .700.
What can be pointed out to show that things CAN be better than that?!?
As I stated back in October, Gyorko is improving greatly with his plate discipline as a Cardinal.
Gyorko has raised his walk rate each of the last three seasons as a Cardinal. This year he reached 10.9% (his first time over 10% in his career). He also struck out less than 20% of the time for the first time at 19.2%. That means that a guy who struck out 3.44 times for every walk as a San Diego Padre has now had a season in which he struck out just 1.75 times per walk. He has basically halved that rate.
This is huge with Jeff Albert coming in as our new hitting coach, I believe. If Gyorko has already turned the corner on putting more balls in play or getting on base another way and Albert can help him with those balls he puts in play, then he could be quite good off of the bench.