When it comes to St. Louis Cardinals infielder Jedd Gyorko, power truly does play.
The first time the media gathered around the Morgantown, West Virginia native in January of 2016 at the Winter Warmup in downtown St. Louis, he admitted to taking a liking to Busch Stadium and St. Louis. Like his best friend Brandon Moss, Gyorko isn't shy about discussing his greatest asset on a baseball field: sheer power. He carries plenty of it to the baseball field.
When Gyorko arrived in St. Louis a few weeks after the end of the 2015 season in a trade for on base percentage specialist Jon Jay, there wasn't much excitement. When you come to a baseball city that just witnessed their general manager get out-witted by a pair of rival GM's for players like Jason Heyward and David Price, you aren't going to see a red carpet rolled out.
The thing that most people forget about John Mozeliak's whiplash trade for Gyorko is the exact swindle he put on San Diego with the deal. The Padres will be paying Mozeliak and the Cardinals a total of 7.5 million dollars from 2017-2019 for Gyorko's services in St. Louis. While Jay is playing in Chicago, the Padres will be cutting a check for part of Jedd's services here in the Lou. How about that?
It helps that Gyorko is finding a true level of consistency with his new team; he's not just bashing home runs, Gyorko is playing multiple positions and slugging everything. He hit 30 home runs last year in just 128 games while producing a .801 OPS, and 3.0 WAR all for just four million dollars. Forget the Kolten Wong controversy with Gyorko's arrival. Just eat up the rewards of having a guy producing three wins above replacement for four million bucks.
Gyorko can turn on a fastball like you turn on a kitchen light, whisking the bat through the zone like a sharp shooter and reminding the pitcher that any pitch inner waist high will be blasted into the seats. In other words, he won't be getting that baseball back anytime soon. 2017 isn't just an encore for last year's show; Gyorko is getting on base and adding average to his repertoire. A slash line of .337/.392/.652 to go with six home runs and eight doubles in just 89 at bats on the young season.
Remember last year where Gyorko hit so many round-trippers yet couldn't collect doubles for his life? That is a different story this year, as the man already has ONE less double in 300+ less at bats. He's cleaned up in the lineup and also given some extra plumbing to the seventh spot in the lineup. Wherever manager Mike Matheny needs him, Gyorko plays and produces.
The man's defensive skills aren't too shabby for the Birds. Say what you want about the Cardinals porous defenders in the 2017 season, but Gyorko has only committed one error this season. Gyorko played every single infield position for the Cardinals last year, like a handyman with a key to every door in the building. Gyorko's greatest hits came at second base, but overall, he only committed ten errors in 462 chances. You won't see a gold glove on Gyorko's mantle anytime soon, but he offers the golden parachute of versatility for a coaching staff needing to play mix and match with their injury plagued roster.
Going into the 2017 season, the question's about Gyorko were simple: can he produce the same power as he did last year and where will he get the most time in the field? In other words, who will he push the hardest for starts? With Wong's hot start (about time!) and Jhonny Peralta's slow crawl into the calendar year, Gyorko has seen the most time at third base and looked very good over at the hot corner.
When it comes to the power, Gyorko has delivered and offered a tease of what a full season could look like with his name written in around 150 times. The money will remain a bargain for the foreseeable future as well, with Gyorko's biggest payday of his current five year will be 13 million dollars in 2019, with a team option waiting in 2020. The Padres will be paying two million this year, 2.5 million dollars in 2018, and three million dollars in 2019. Talk about a power bat that plays and comes in at a healthy bargain.
Remember when I wanted the Cardinals to give Chris Davis a whirl? Don't worry, I've stopped drinking Folgers coffee. The Gyorko brew will do just fine for the Cardinals.
2017 has been anything but dull and relaxing for the fans, but at least the early returns on an already tumultuous season are this: Gyorko's power has found the consistency it lacked in San Diego, and there's a possibility that his bat can co-exist with Wong's abilities in the same lineup. Sorry, Peralta. Not sorry, actually.