In 2010 the Padres utilized a second round pick on a shortstop out of West Virginia by the name of Jedd Gyorko. He was viewed by most throughout MLB prior to that draft to be a bit of a defensive liability at shortstop and the thought was that he’d move positions (his arm being strong enough to play anywhere on the diamond). Gyorko in 2010? He didn’t care.
Where I play [on defense] isn’t a big concern for me. I’m just ready for this chance to live a dream and it will all work out.
As is well known to most (if not all) who are reading this right now, Gyorko shot through the minor league system, ending the 2012 season as Baseball America’s best third baseman in AAA. In 2013, in part due to injuries and necessity, Gyorko made the San Diego Padres out of Spring Training as a second baseman. It’s a position he’s yet to relinquish and was in fact rewarded with a 5 year extension early this year. If (when?) the Padres jettison Chase Headley, Gyorko will be the lone position player who can legitimately be called a homegrown (until the next homegrown player arrives). And he’s here to stay.
And he is struggling. Mightily.
At roughly a third of the way through the season, Gyorko is well below his 2013 offensive output. A slash line of .173/.218/.288 is dismal by any barometer unless you’re a pitcher. To be fair, while Gyorko had a good 2013 rookie campaign, it was still only a slash line of .249/.301/.444. However, Gyorko was propped up by leading the team in HRs and RBI despite playing in 125 games. Considering he did so as a rookie, the prevailing thought was (and continues to be) that Gyorko would only get better.
I suppose now is a good time to stop and interject some editorializing. I still think Gyorko is an excellent player and will be better than the 2013 version and far better than the present version. But the present struggles cannot be ignored.
Gyorko has had 6 multi-hit games all season while striking out on average more than once a game (53 Ks in 52 Gs).
Obviously, Gyorko is far from the only player on this team that’s struggled to hit. And there have been signs of Gyorko pulling out of his early season funk. Of those 6 multi-hit games, 3 have come in the past 9 days. His average has risen 20 points in the month of May, though still is nearly 30 points behind the Mendoza line. And this hasn’t been a case of pitchers figuring him out as they are pitching him nearly identical to how they did a season ago (per Fangraphs).
Some of this is bad luck. Gyorko has a microscopic .206 BABIP. Some of it is the contact he’s making, as his line drives are down 5% but his ground balls are up 6%. Likely not ideal for someone of his speed and probably explains the BABIP.
So what can be done? What should be done? Darren Smith earlier this week posed the question to Josh Byrnes about whether or not he’d consider sending Gyorko down.
Sometimes you do it, and you do it because a player isn’t playing as well as he can. Sometimes it’s a mental break…I wouldn’t say no.
You’d of course need someone to replace Gyorko should that be the decision. Amarista? He’s the only player to play second this season in Gyorko’s absence. Jace Peterson has infield experience down in El Paso and could spell Gyorko. But more importantly, is sending Gyorko down really best for him and/or the Padres?
I don’t know the answer to that question. On the one hand, you don’t want to break Gyorko’s psyche if he continues to struggle at the MLB level. Then again, a demotion may be a more crushing blow to his confidence than an 0-for-4 day in San Diego.
Jedd Gyorko is still new to us in San Diego, and as such a young player it’s difficult for anyone to guess how he will respond to adversity. Then again, prior to the 2010 draft, Jerry Mahoney, Gyorko’s baseball instructor since 5 and a staff member at WVU, was not concerned about how Jedd would handle adversity.
His ability to handle things when they aren’t going well, or things that are out of his control, is probably better than any player I have seen coming up, even back to when he was really little,” Mahoney said. “A lot of kids get discouraged if they get out, or something doesn’t work out for them. With Jedd, he just always never let it bother him and used it as motivation to get better. That’s what he’s always been about.
Gyorko has been a good hitter his entire career. It’s what made him an attractive prospect out of West Virginia. It’s what got him to Spring Training camp 3 years later. It’s what keeps him at second base in Petco Park. For Gyorko in 2014, very little has changed except the result. But that result is likely to course-correct. For now, Gyorko should stay right where he is. Let him keep swinging, the hits will come.
Should he stay or should he go? What would you do with Gyorko? Or do you think he’s coming out of it after this past week? Comment below or Tweet me @LeftCoastBias.