Former Mountaineer Gyorko having best baseball season
Disappointment has shielded the spotlight in St. Louis from focusing on third baseman Jedd Gyorko. The wildly popular Cardinals are mired in third place in their division . . . they have a losing record . . . injuries have caused more losses than wins . . . and the summer is quickly moving toward the annual All-Star game.
Normally the Cardinals are in first place or at least contending with the Chicago Cubs or Pittsburgh Pirates.
But here in 2017 it is the Milwaukee Brewers in first, the defending World Champion Chicago Cubs in second and the Cards feuding with the Pirates and Reds in trying to stay out of last place.
Now 28 and seven years removed from West Virginia University, Gyorko is playing a stellar third base for the scuffling Cardinals.
This is Gyorko’s first full season as a third baseman. It is his second season with the Cardinals after coming to the big leagues with the team that drafted him in the second round in 2010, the San Diego Padres.
After a three-year career at WVU, Gyorko left the school as one of its all-time best hitters. He batted .409 as a freshman shortstop, followed that with a .421 average the next season and hit .381 as a junior in 2010 before being signed by the Padres.
Gyorko had played at University High in Morgantown and is now the only former Mountaineer found in the major leagues.
In his final season as a Mountaineer, Gyorko slugged 19 home runs in 236 at-bats.
After giving Gyorko a hefty bonus to sign, the Padres thought they were getting a power-hitting second or third baseman.
There were three seasons in the minor leagues and in 2013 Gyorko began another year in Class AAA. He eventually came to San Diego and hit 23 homers and drove in 63 runs on a .249 batting average. He was stationed at second base.
The next year he slumped to a .210 average and had 10 homers and 51 RBIs.
After batting .247 with 16 homers and 57 RBIs with San Diego, he was signed to a $35-million multi-year contract . . . but traded to St. Louis before the 2016 season.
St.Louis contended with the Cubs last season before missing a wild card bid. Gyorko hit .243 but improved his power considerably with 30 home runs while driving in 59 runs.
With the Cardinals buffeted by injuries to starting pitchers and other regulars not performing as well as they have in the past, Gyorko might be St. Louis’ best bet to make the All-Star team. He’s been above the .300 batting mark for much of the season and was hitting .293 earlier in the week. His 11 homers and 32 RBIs lead the team in those categories.
If Milwaukee wins the Central Division, it would surprise many baseball people. The Cubs have been snagged by a few injuries and several under-performing regulars – just like the Cardinals.
Gyorko has played third base this season and will not get the votes to oust Chicago’s Kris Bryant as the people’s choice at that position.
But every team has to be represented on the All-Star team, and the Cardinals don’t have Stan Musial, Ken Boyer, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Mark McGwire or Steve Carlton to help the league this year.
From University High to WVU , to the San Diego Padres and now the Cardinals, Gyorko has plied his trade and been impressive with his power, knowledge of the game and everyday grit and determination.
He could be representing the National League and all of West Virginia in the 2017 All-Star game.