For the fifth straight year, we’re taking some time in that time between the end of the season and the winter meetings to discuss each player that made an appearance on the St. Louis roster this season. Whether they played almost every day or never actually got into a game, they get covered in this series. All stats are exclusively their time in St. Louis. Just think of this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a quick evaluation before heading home for the winter.
This year’s Exit Interview series is “being brought to you by” some of the various Cardinal podcasts that are out there for your listening pleasure. Our focus this time is Cubs Cards Cast. No doubt it’s been tough for Dan, a Cards fan in Chicago, to talk with John, a Cubs fan in St. Louis, this season but they always are able to discuss both teams with only good-natured ribbing. Find them on iTunes or check out their site!
Player: Jedd Gyorko
Season stats: 128 games, 438 PA, 58 R, 9 2B, 1 3B, 30 HR, 59 RBI, 37 BB, 96 K, .243/.306/.495, 110 OPS+, 2.9 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Hero 11, Goat 7
Overall grade: A
Positives: From the All-Star Break to the first game in August, had a home run for every two games he started (eight HR, 16 starts)….smashed a key home run the last weekend of the year, breaking a tie with Pittsburgh and keeping the team’s playoff hopes alive….hit .301 in July with a .957 OPS….had a 1.027 OPS in games the Cardinals won….hit .274 when he batted seventh, his most common spot in the lineup….had an .854 OPS against relievers and an .882 mark against finesse pitchers….loved facing his old team, putting up a whopping .560/.593/1.360 line in seven games (six starts) against the Padres….hit .318 with a 1.121 OPS in Miller Park….hit 23 of his 30 homers in the second half.
Negatives: Hit just .176 with a .471 OPS in June….had a .135 mark with two strikes….hit .230 with runners in scoring position and .236 with men on in general….hit .188 with a devilish .666 OPS with two outs and RISP….hit just .218 in late and close situations, though did crack six homers in that setting….had a .195/.250/.506 line in high leverage situations….actually got worse against starters the more he saw them, with just a .161/.203/.429 line the third time around against them….had only five of his 30 homers against power pitchers….hit only two homers against the Cubs, but had a .803 OPS against the baby bears….he and Curtis Granderson became the first players to hit 30 homers and not reach 60 RBI.
Overview: When the Cardinals acquired Gyorko for Jon Jay in the offseason, reviews were fairly positive even at the time. Everyone knew that Gyorko had some power, given he’d hit 23 in his rookie season, but even his 16 from the past season would be great for a guy that was expected to be a utility infielder. Instead, Gyorko powered up and played his way into basically an every day role, aided in part by Kolten Wong‘s struggles as well as Jhonny Peralta‘s injury. Gyorko seemed to cool mid-summer (he hit .228 from July 30 to September 6 while starting all 33 games he played in that time) but had a great final kick, hitting .357 during the last series with Pittsburgh.
Outlook: Gyorko was a valuable asset to the Cards in 2016 and there’s no reason to think he won’t be going forward as well. His defense, while not spectacular, can usually be tolerable at most places save shortstop, which should let him get time in at most of the infield positions next season. If Wong gets to play more regularly, at least in part due to his glove, Gyorko may not have quite the number of at bats next year and no matter what probably won’t hit 30 again, but he’ll be a great guy to come off the bench and play quite a bit at various positions.