Padres Editorial: Jedd Gyorko and the Sophomore Slump


Recently, Corey Brock wrote about how the Padres are counting on a bounceback season from incumbent second baseman Jedd Gyorko and after looking at his stats, I have to agree. While newcomers Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Derek Norris should help the offense, Bud Black will need a healthy and productive Gyorko on his lineup card in 2015. As Brock writes you can count the Padres manager as a believer in Gyorko saying:

"“We saw in 2013 what Jedd can be, and I think there’s more to Jedd based on 2013. I think last year there were a lot of factors that went into his season that he expected or adjusted to, but that is something he’s hopefully learned from. It’s a tough game. You’ve got to work and stay on top of it. In that regards, I think he learned a lot.”"

But even Black can’t argue that Gyorko’s 2013 season falls into the category of a sophomore slump. Almost since the inception of baseball, fans have been pondering the sophomore slump. How can a rookie come into the league and light it on fire one year, only to struggle the next. Brock and other Padres’ fans are left to wonder how a future cornerstone in the spring of 2014 enters 2015 with nothing but questions about his performance. All of this makes me think about other players who suffered from the sophomore slump and how they fared. What happened to those players and what are the keys that are going to help Gyorko bounce back in 2015?

Ten years ago I read an article by Aaron Gleeman of Hardball Times that broke down past Rookie of the Year winners who suffered from the sophomore slump (by looking at win shares). I was surprised to see that future hall of famers where on the list, as well as people who never did come back. I’ve included the list below for you to review:

Player                         Year     Yr 1    Yr 2   Change

Mark Fidrych        1976      27       7     -20

Carl Morton           1970      21       4     -17

Walt Dropo            1950       21       5     -16

Joe Black                 1952      20       4     -16

Carlton Fisk            1972      33      17     -16

Rick Sutcliffe          1979      16       0     -16

Willie Mays              1951      19       5     -14

Stan Bahnsen         1968     23       9     -14

Joe Charboneau   1980      15       1     -14

Kerry Wood            1998      14       0     -14

When reviewing these players, the most consistent theme is injury, which definitely played a part in Gyorko’s 2014 season. The key is how they bounced back from injury. In 2014 I can think of three players that where in the same position as Gyorko and were looking to bounce back. They are Yoenis Cespedes, Todd Frazier and new Padre, Will Middlebrooks. In the table below you can see their stats.

These players show the three turns Gyorko’s career can take, he could bounce all the way back (Frazier), he could improve on his sophomore year, but still fall short of his rookie campaign (Cespesdes) or he could take another step backwards (Middlebrooks). There are several factors that I believe are going to help Gyorko bounce back. First, the bats that A.J. Preller brought in to surround Gyorko, there are multiple stats that help prove hitting is contagious and hopefully that will help Gyorko in 2015. Based on past cases, other factors seem to be staying healthy, working hard and having mental fortitude.

For years, GMs, writers and fans have been trying to predict who will have a bounce back season and who will never regain their former glory. However, like Bud Black, I am placing my money on Gyorko, he has hit at every level he played and knows how to work hard. Regardless of his success and failures in the past, one thing is certain: the Padres are going to need Gyorko to contribute in 2015 if they want to contend in the National League West.

Next: Padres Favorites To Land Hector Olivera After Showcase?

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