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St. Louis Cardinals: Is Jedd Gyorko a better option at second?

Jedd Gyorko was the Cardinals longball leader in 2016.

There has been a lot of discussion among St. Louis Cardinals fans over the playing time scheduled for Jedd Gyorko. With Matheny naming  Jhonny Peralta the starter at third, it looks as though Jedd will be a super utility player once again. Many fans have been calling for Gyorko to start over Kolten Wong at 2nd base. On Saturday, Rick Hummel asked Matheny about a possible platoon, “That’s something we’re going to have to consider,” said Matheny. “We can’t expect to see these (bench) guys to stay sharp if they never play.”

After what can only be called a dismal year for Kolten Wong, fans are clamoring for Jedd Gyorko, who clubbed 30 HRs, to be the everyday Cardinal 2nd baseman. However the question remains: Is Jedd an upgrade over Wong?

The biggest reason people want Gyorko in the line up is his ability to hit home runs. It’s true what they say… “Chicks dig the long ball.” Cardinal fans should look past the 30 home runs, because they only produced 59 RBI. Wong swat 11 HRs in 2015 and had 61 RBI. A lot of home runs do not always lead to big RBI numbers. Jedd’s low RBI totals were hindered by an awful .230 RISP and .188 RISP with 2 outs. So, just for a moment, let’s look past the 30 home runs.

Jedd Gyorko had a 243/306/495 slash in 2016, which was similar to his 2015 slash of 247/297/397 in San Diego. This seems to be the typical line you will get from Jedd, as it has been consistently the same all four years he has played in the majors. Not a horrible sash line, but fairly unimpressive.

Looking at his run production is where I grow concerned. As stated before Jedd had only 59 RBI, tied for the worst RBI total of players who hit 30 or more home runs. (Curtis Granderson who is a leadoff hitter also had 59 RBI) Gyorko scored a mere 58 runs in 2016, also the lowest amount of hitters with 30 HR or more. While Gyorko lead the team in home runs last year he accounted for only 87 total runs, the lowest amount of runs produced by someone hitting 25+ home runs. Comparing his stats to the rest of his teammates.

Home runs       1st

RBI                     7th (43 of 59 came off HRs)

Runs                 6th

Doubles           11th (Only 9 for the year)

Walks               7th

Strikeouts       5th

Suddenly those home runs don’t really mean a whole lot. Jedd also had a career high HR/FB ratio, 24.4%. He is expected to return closer to his career average of 16.1%, which is why Zips is projecting him to have only 22 home runs in 2017. For a player who gets 73% of his RBI via the home run, that is not a good thing.

From an offensive point of view the Cardinals need more production than 87 runs from 2nd base, but honestly… I don’t think Wong can do any better. That is the awful rock and hard place facing the Cardinals in 2017. Many stat casters are projection Wong and Gyorko to account for the same amount of total run production from the plate. This is why I believe Matheny is choosing defense over offense when making the choice between 2nd basemen. Wong has a better UZR and bigger range and has had flashes of brilliance in the field. I personally wish there was a better option at 2nd base, but that remains to be seen.

Several things to watch for this year:

  1. Greg Garcia could continue to get on base. (Career .377 at the MLB level) This could lead to a good amount of run production. Garcia could end up being the team’s best option at 2nd.
  2. If Jose Martinez or Matt Adams start to have impressive offensive numbers, Matheny could allow more playing time for Matt Carpenter to play 2nd This isn’t the best option as Carpenter’s worst defensive position is 2nd base.
  3. Kolten Wong learns how to hit again, and stops getting picked off… (A guy can dream)
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