Much of the struggles of the San Diego Padres season had fallen on the shoulders of Jedd Gyorko initially, but he has caught fire and is now producing like a mad man. His production could not have come at a better time as the Padres team struggles to find an identity. With Cory Spangenberg and Yangervis Solarte getting a ton of playing time, Gyorko needed to hit in order to stay in the lineup everyday.
Gyorko had a great rookie season (2013) in which he slugged 23 home runs in 125 games. He also played excellent defense and was still only 24 years old. Gyorko finished fifth in rookie of the year voting and was rewarded by then Padres general manager Josh Byrnes at the beginning of the 2014 season. The five-year/$35 million dollar contract was hefty, but Gyorko seemed poised to build on his rookie season.
He did not build on it, in fact he regressed quite a bit. The 2014 season was a horrible one for the second baseman. He had a batting average of .163 and an on base percentage of .229 on April 14th when he signed his extension. Some really questioned the timing of this deal with the team. It was not a pressing issue and the normally frugal Padres went out and gave him a guaranteed $35 million dollars to essentially buy out all his arbitration years and one year into free agency. Not exactly a great move by the team.
Gyorko never picked it up in April, finishing with a .151 batting average in the month and followed that up with a .186 batting average in the month of May. He was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis (left foot) in late May and missed two months of the season. Upon his arrival in August he got off to another slow start. Only managing to hit .217 in the month. The Padres had to really be concerned at the time. He seemed like only a shadow of his former self. Gyorko picked it up in September by hitting .267, but all in all it was a lost year for him and the Padres.
The 2015 season was supposed to be Gyorko’s bounce back year. He once again struggled out of the gate for the team and eventually was sent down by the Padres. He has responded since his call up from Triple-A hitting .266 (54-203). He has the total overall numbers of .246 with 12 home runs and 43 RBI’s. Not horrible numbers for a middle infielder by any means. Gyorko looks to be blooming a bit as a hitter. In the past 14 days Gyorko is hitting .294 with four homers and 10 RBI’s and vs LHP he is hitting .286 total with two homers and nine RBI’s.
More surprising than anything is that Gyorko has recently been playing shortstop and has done a decent job at it. In 64 total innings, Gyorko has not committed an error at the position and has shown decent range. The experiment of him at short was frowned upon initially but he has shown that he has the ability to play the position adequately. Padres fans are not quite sure who made the decision to try Gyorko at shortstop, but it has proved to be a very decent idea for a Padres team that was searching for some consistency out of the position.
Will the Padres use him in the position going forward? That remains to be seen. He looks decent enough there, but the team is surely going to explore a more long-term fix there. Still Gyorko has proved his versatility and more importantly he is starting to perform. His contract is not looking like a total waste and the Padres are surely happy about that. What will Gyorko’s future hold? Will the team let him learn the shortstop position more or will Gyorko be relegated back to second base? The Padres have many unanswered questions for next season, and where Jedd Gyorko plays is another one.