Jedd Gyorko's Recent Power Surge Is No Fluke

Jedd Gyorko homered in both halves of a doubleheader Tuesday for the second time in a week. Can he keep mashing and earn a more solid spot in the lineup?

It was weird enough when Jedd Gyorko went all revenge game on the San Diego Padres last week by hitting home runs in both halves of a doubleheader. That's a pretty sweet accomplishment for anybody, but seeing a guy with Gyorko's past struggles do it adds an extra little cherry on top.

The bad man done did it again yesterday.

This time, it was the New York Mets feeling his ball-bashing wrath as Gyorko launched a pair of taters to help the St. Louis Cardinals split the twin bill. Doubleheaders are rare as is, so it shouldn't be a shock that Gyorko is in some pretty elite company in accomplishing a feat like this.

This should help settle the decade-long debate about whether Gyorko is a better hitter than Barry Bonds. Advantage goes to the 5'10" middle-infielder who slashed .247/.297/.397 in 2015.

Beyond all the cool, surface tidbits about Gyorko's accomplishment lies one that may be both a bit less evident and even more surprising: it's not a total fluke. Gyorko's batted-ball stats are trending in a way that suggest he could keep making good contact going forward, and if that's the case, the Cardinals may need to find a more permanent spot for him in the lineup.

Multi-Faceted Improvements

It's fair if you wanted to write off Gyorko's .491 slugging percentage in the month of April as simply being the product of a small sample size, and you would have been correct in doing so. However, the further we've gotten into the season, the more evident it has become that his skills are trending in the right direction from where they were last year.

New Busch Stadium isn't a hitter's haven, but it's still a sizable increase over his former abode in Petco Park. As such, looking at Gyorko's slash lines and such will be misleading, making that discussion irrelevant. Instead, let's focus on his park-neutral and quickly-stabilizing stats that don't face those same restrictions. Here, it becomes a bit more evident that Gyorko is making legitimate strides.

SeasonStrikeout RateWalk RateHard-Hit RateFly-Ball Rate

He has managed to pair 2014's walk rate with 2015's batted-ball stats all while making significant improvements to his strikeout rate. These are stats that will stabilize at fewer than 100 plate appearances, so it's clear this is a different and better hitter than we saw in the past.

The other interesting thing about Gyorko is that he has shown improvements within the season, as well. If we set the cutoff at June 1st, we get relevant sample sizes on both sides of the split from which to draw conclusions. Even though he's not playing as often, Gyorko's still finding ways to tinker and trend the right way.

Time FrameStrikeout RateHard-Hit RateFly-Ball Rate
Before June 1st20.2%30.4%34.2%
June 1st On18.8%36.5%41.9%

Those shifts may seem small at first glance, but -- especially with the hard-hit and fly-ball rates -- they make a big difference. We've seen the benefits of that to the tune of 7 home runs since the All-Star break in just 44 plate appearances. He's clearly not going to keep up a pace like that, but Gyorko truly is not the same guy he was in his time with the Padres.

Unfortunately, our new pal Jedd has a big ol' problem in the not-so-distant future. Matt Carpenter is nearing a rehab stint, and Brandon Moss is not too far behind him. Those are two more sticks the Cardinals will (and should) want in their lineup on an every-day basis. Eventually, Jhonny Peralta will join them, as well. This is an offense that isn't brimming with opportunity, and that could shove Gyorko out of the lineup.

The one positive for Gyorko is that the Cardinals have recognized how well he's swinging it. Gyorko has hit either fourth or fifth in each of the past four games, up from largely the seven hole prior to that. If he keeps stroking the way he has, it's going to be hard to keep him out of the lineup, even when the other big mashers return.

It's fine to be skeptical of a guy with Gyorko's track record suddenly catching fire and doing what he has done since the All-Star break. However, in every area we'd look to see whether or not this is fluky, he's both excelling and showing improvement. Gyorko's success seems sustainable, and he's making a bid to lock down a permanent spot in the order.

Especially if it's a doubleheader.