Can We Buy Low on Jedd Gyorko?

The case of Jedd Gyorko, 2014, is a curious one. It’s an ugly one, too, with that .210 batting average and 10 home runs he put up in 443 plate appearances this past season. The San Diego Padres certainly hoped for more given that they signed him to a five-year contract extension, which came with a club option for 2020, in mid-April. Perhaps soon afterward, they began to regret it.

Is this past campaign more of a reflection of Gyorko’s true talent? His production (.249/.301/.444, with 23 home runs, in 525 PAs) in his rookie season more of a fluke? Will more or fewer of his prospective owners in rotisserie, head-to-head, and whatever other types of leagues view them that way? He may be a popular rebound candidate. But how popular?

We won’t have much of a sense of the answer to that last question for some time. We have an immediate opportunity to react to Gyorko’s rough 2014 campaign, though. It’s conveniently comprised of two distinct periods:

The second baseman spent the time between those two stretches on the disabled list for plantar fasciitis.

Gyorko was downright miserable in the season’s first couple of months. When he landed on the disabled list, the rumor mill generated a theory that the Friars had concocted the injury story so that they could deactivate instead of demote him in light of the financial commitment they’d made to him only a month and a half prior. The timeline of the injury begins with his initial development of the foot issue on May 30 and escalates with the flare-up reported in early June, after he’d already received a cortisone shot.

Was the injury a smokescreen? It’d have been a pretty elaborate cover story, complete with protective boot and plenty of medical exam reports. Which doesn’t make it untrue, of course.

It’s also possible that Gyorko was at less than 100% well before his initial run-in with the ailment. The stabbing pain that is symptomatic of plantar fasciitis comes about suddenly but is a potential result of continuous stress on the foot, to put it simply. An array of minor things could have led to that tension. But it’s just speculation.

Interestingly, Gyorko’s performance in myriad indicators didn’t waver, or waver much, from the pre- to post-DL stretch. His plate discipline figures were pretty much the same. The mix of pitches he saw didn’t really vary, so it’s unlikely that he simply struggled with a certain kind of offering. His ISO before (.108) and after (.130) suggest a recovery of power after he returned from the DL, but the distances and speeds off the bat of all his home runs don’t support that idea at all.

Notable differences did occur in his batted-ball data, though: In the first stint, he hit more fly balls; in the second, he traded plenty of those flies for line drives. It suggests an adjustment, perhaps related to his swing plane. Is that health-related, or is that something the organization had him adjust in secret? I viewed multiple videos from his highlight reel of at-bats on his player page from the past calendar year or so and didn’t notice much of a difference at any point. That’s my untrained eye doing the examinations, though.

Gyorko did make some advancements, it’s worth noting. He cut down on the K’s a bit and the swinging strikes a bit more. He reduced his swing rate primarily by cutting down on his reach rate. In terms of plate discipline, 2014 might turn out to be a legit growth year. It’s possible that, overall, some folks found out that Gyorko simply isn’t nearly as good as they thought. It’s also possible this past season was one of even more progress than the overall numbers reflect, based on his impressive stretch after his activation in late July.

Given what he accomplished in 2013, Gyorko’s 2014 draft stock wasn’t as inflated as I’d expected. He was the 10th second baseman and in the top 120 overall, according to Fantasy Pros, but at least there are indications that some fantasy players were bullish on him. His 2013 ISO (.195) probably still set the bar too high in terms of power expectations, especially for a player who calls Petco Park home. His 2015 Steamer projection (.243/.304/.401, with 18 HR) looks like a pretty fair one, to me. The subtracted PT is built in, just in case soft-tissue injuries become a recurring theme. (He missed more than a month in 2013 because of a strained groin.)

Will there be a public overreaction to the season Gyorko, 26, endured in 2014? I think that I hope so. SD may eventually move him back to third base, but that doesn’t really affect his value negatively. The player doesn’t appear to have changed much, if at all. He’s basically at peak. The power production will probably never be great, and the batting average will probably never be good. There’s some risk involved with the second baseman, no question. We have a good idea of his price coming off a quality fantasy season, though, too, and if it’s lower – even significantly lower? – then I’ll probably be buying, at least in 2015.

Nicholas Minnix oversaw baseball content for six years at KFFL, where he held the loose title of Managing Editor for seven and a half before he joined FanGraphs. He played in both Tout Wars and LABR from 2010 through 2014. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasMinnix.

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7 years ago

Shhhhhh. Keep the Gyorko sleeper Secret.

7 years ago
Reply to  Ryan

lol. Whoever is reading a fantasy baseball article in October will be well versed on Gyorko.

7 years ago
Reply to  Patrick

Hahahahaha Who is Gyroko? Is he Japanese?