Gyroko homers help keep St. Louis in wild card chase
In his first season with the St. Louis Cardinals, former WVU infielder Jedd Gyorko is providing the National League team with what it wanted from him when a trade was made with San Diego to acquire the stocky second baseman this past winter.
St. Louis is hopelessly behind the Chicago Cubs in the Central Division of the league . . . but the Cards are in a three-way fight for the two wild cards that lead to the playoffs.
Through games of Monday, Sept. 12, the Giants had a 77-66 record with the Mets just behind with their 76-68 mark and then came the Cardinals at 75-68.
Gyorko has given the Cardinals just enough power and just enough run production to help keep them afloat as the season reaches the final 17 games of the marathon season.
Appearing in 111 games, Gyorko had slugged 26 home runs in 346 official at-bats. He had driven in 51 runs as St. Louis struggled to overcome injuries all over the diamond, including catcher, outfield, infield and starting pitching.
Batting a respectable .243, Gyorko had scored 49 runs, had seven doubles and 84 hits.
It was back in Morgantown at WVU that Gyorko was signed by the Padres after being drafted in the second round. He had been a shortstop both at University High in Morgantown and with the Mountaineers. In fact, after the 2010 season with WVU he was honored with the Brooks Wallace Award, emblematic of being the best shortstop in the NCAA Division I ranks.
Quickly shifted from shortstop to third base by the Padres, Gyorko didn’t set the minor leagues on fire his first season as a professional.
He was moved to second base . . . and when he was a rookie started slowly again.
But once healthy and established as an every-day player, Gyorko began to hit . . . and hit with power — hammering 23 homers, driving in 63 runs and finishing sixth in the Rookie of the Year balloting.
San Diego signed him to a $35 million contract extension in 2014, but he missed 44 games with a foot injury and batted only .210 with 10 homers that season.
In 2015, he missed more time with injuries and completed last season with 16 homers and a .247 batting average in 128 games.
San Diego traded him to St. Louis after the 2015 season ended.
The wild card scramble in the National League will involve Gyorko and the always-competitive Cardinals trying to outlast both the Giants and the Mets.
Now 27 years old, Gyorko turns 28 on Sept. 23 . . . in the midst of a red-hot race for the playoffs — not something he ever experienced in San Diego . . . and the reason St. Louis brought him and his top-heavy contract to the Gateway Arch and the muddy Mississippi River.