Player Background

The West Virginia University product was selected in the second round of the 2010 amateur draft by the Padres and picked up where he left off in his collegiate career by simply raking in the lower levels of the minors. After a couple of stops in Low-A ball in 2010 where he hit .302 with seven home runs in 68 games, in his second season of professional ball, the 21-year-old spent time between High-A and Double-A, posting an impressive .333/.400/.552 slash line with 24 bombs and 114 RBI. He closed out his 2011 season by making a splash in the Arizona Fall League, slashing a ridiculous .437/.500/.704, smacking five home runs and driving in 22 runs in his 18 games. Heading into the 2012 season, Gyorko jumped to our no. 57 overall prospect and he did not disappoint. As follow up to his monster 2011 campaign, the slugging infielder was equally as dominant in 2012 putting up a .311/.373/.547 line between Double-A and Triple-A and launching 30 home runs and driving in an even 100 runs. The Padres decided to move Gyorko from third base to second base that season (Chase Headley was manning the hot corner for San Diego at the time) to accelerate his path to the big club. Gyorko began the 2013 season with the Padres and despite missing 37 games due to a groin injury, still led the team with 23 home runs and finished sixth in the NL ROY balloting. Expectations were high heading into last season for Gyorko, but a slow start followed by a plantar fasciitis injury in early June that landed him on the DL, derailed his season. Gyorko’s final line of .210/.280/.333 over 111 games was quite disappointing, and has lead to question marks about the second baseman’s expectations heading into 2015.

What Went Right in 2014

Well, there was not much that went right for Gyorko last season. If there is one thing that we can point to as a promising sign was his improved numbers upon returning from the plantar fasciitis injury. Gyorko slashed .260/.347/.398 in 222 PA after his return from the DL, and the .745 OPS was the same as he posted in his 23 home run rookie campaign. His walk rates improved significantly and his contact and line-drive rates also spiked post-injury.

What Went Wrong in 2014

The first half of the 2014 season is one that Gyorko would like to forget. The second baseman was slashing an abysmal .162/.213/.270 in 221 PA in early June before heading to the DL. He struggled with his contact rates during that time, and his 56-to-12 K:BB ratio was worse than the 3.7 K:BB ratio he put up as a rookie. His .192 BABIP in the first half certainly did not help his cause.

What to Expect in 2015

The table below reflects what PECOTA expects from Gyorko in 2015:

















PECOTA is predicting a season very similar to Gyorko’s 2013 rookie year based on these numbers. While the projected .710 OPS is definitely not awe-inspiring, these power numbers from a second baseman will make him quite valuable from a fantasy perspective. Assuming Gyorko remains healthy this season, I believe these projections are pretty fair and what you can expect in 2015. Gyorko’s current NFBC ADP is 229, which is 15th among second basemen, and he was pick no. 176 and the 11th second sacker selected in the LABR Mixed League Draft. While he is only a three-category player and the AVG can be a drain, the potential power at his position will make a desirable MI option in all formats. For reference, in standard NL-only 5×5 scoring leagues, Gyorko was a $15 player in 2013 despite is .249 AVG.

The Great Beyond

There is no argument that Gyorko was not very good last year, but he is not the first rookie to show some regression in their sophomore season as the league adjusts to them. Battling a plantar fasciitis injury in addition certainly did not make things any easier for the young infielder. The Padres’ new hitting coach, Mark Kotsay, said his first task this spring was working with Gyorko to improve his stance in the batter's box, in hopes it will help him see the ball a little longer and allow him to drive the ball to the opposite field with authority. That is certainly something Gyorko will need to improve upon this upcoming season. The Padres 2015 lineup is revamped with Gyorko projected to bat sixth, so he should see plenty of RBI opportunities with the likes of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, and Wil Myers hitting ahead of him. He is also not a victim of Petco, as Gyorko has put up better offensive numbers at home during his brief career, including hitting 20 of his 33 career bombs in the Padres' home park. The long-term plan might be to move Gyorko back to his natural position of third base, but for now he is firmly entrenched as their everyday second baseman after signing a five-year, $35 million deal with the Padres following his promising 2013 rookie season. Gyorko’s minor-league scan shows the potential (.320/.386/.529 line over 1,538 PA), but the plate discipline he displayed during his time in the minors has yet to translate to the majors; Kotsay and the Padres are hoping that will resurface in 2015.

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Apparently his swing mechanics are currently off:

I wonder how likely he is to correct that.
Hi Nojsztat,
Thanks for reading my article!

I was aware of Mark Kotsay working with Gyorko on his swing mechanics, as I mentioned in the piece, and the Padres feel this is correctable but it may take a little more time. I totally understand the concerns over Gyorko as they are warranted. However, based on his scan, where he has hit with power at every level, I am of the belief he will get back on track this year and recapture that power stoke. The early returns this spring have certainly not been encouraging based solely on the box scores, but as Bud Black stated the Padres are more focused on the long term fix with Gyorko this spring, so the ST stats can be misleading as he works on making the necessary adjustments to his swing. From a fantasy perspective, it might be wise to have a little longer leash with Gyorko if he gets off to another poor start. If the adjustments are successful, he will be an excellent power source from the MI spot.
Thank you for writing it! I have Gyorko in my dynasty and wondering if I will end up better off having kept him when he was mashing in AAA and I was getting trade offers left and right for him. I'm banking on that late season improvement, since plantar fasciitis is a tough injury to play through. Health and a better lineup hopefully means better performance. I can afford to be patient. I know the Padres will be.
Sounds like someone to buy low then. There are enough red flags to risk betting on a full recovery back to 2013 numbers, though some signs that he can avoid a 2014 style flameout.
Hi alwaxman,
Yes, I think he is solid buy low candidate. Just expect a low AVG.
The spring training stat I am worried about is that he has more Ks than Baez. I won't be buying.
Hi creejohnson,
Yes, his K rates are high but on a positive note, he does have a .263/.333/.421 line this spring. Your concerns are warranted, and nobody would question your decision to pass on Gyorko.
Nice stuff. But can you guys all stop using the term "slashed" as a synonym for "hit". You can't slash anything with a rounded object. "clubbed" might work.
Hi fawcettb,
Thanks for checking out the article. Your feedback is appreciated.
I believe the use of the word "slashed" has to do with the BA/OBP/SLG, not the "slashing" of the ball.
Hi Keith- I get that ST is a series of adjustments and while he may be working with Kotsay at roughly a 7.5% bb rate and 35% k rate thusfar it is really hard to be optimistic for even a modest rebound. If I can nab him on the super cheap- maybe, but I'd probably try to flip that immediately if he comes out of the gate smoking.