Our Milwaukee Brewers report card series continues with one of the team’s successful offseason free agent signings: Jedd Gyorko.
When it comes to the awful offensive season that the 2020 Milwaukee Brewers put forward, there is plenty of blame to go around. Offseason acquisitions were DFA’d, MVPs slumped, and a promising hitter suffered a sophomore slump.
One of the few general exceptions to this rule was infielder Jedd Gyorko. General Manager David Stearns brought him in hoping that he could return to form after an injury-plagued 2019 season and the gamble largely ended up paying off for the Brewers.
Gyorko began the 2020 season working out of a lefty-righty platoon at third base with the light-hitting Eric Sogard. By the time the season was over, he found himself on the other side of the diamond and one of the team’s best hitters.
Gyorko set a number of career highs, statistically, while with the Brewers this season. Among those were new career marks in slugging percentage (.504), walk rate (11.1%), hard hit percentage (43.2%), and weighted runs created plus (118).
He was all across the team leaderboards as well. Gyorko tied for the team lead with a 0.7 fWAR and led all Brewers who were with the team the whole season with his aforementioned slugging percentage and wRC+ as well as OPS (.838). His nine bombs were third best on the team.
While Brewer fans at least had somewhat of an idea as to Gyorko’s offensive potential, what came as a surprise was the defensive performance he put on this season. It started off with him regularly making solid plays when he got playing time at third base.
Eventually, though, the Brewers would need someone to cover first base when the disappointing Justin Smoak ended up being DFA’d. Despite just 35 appearances there prior to 2020, Gyorko ended up in the mix for playing time at first, where he would end up providing the same stout defense that he did at third and earn the lion’s share of playing time down the stretch.
There actually wasn’t much terrible about Gyorko’s season, but nobody is perfect, right? Though he was proficient at slugging and getting on base (.333), his .248 batting average was lower than his standout 2017 and 2018 seasons. His 28.1% strikeout rate was also a career-high.
Gyorko also faded a bit down the stretch. While he avoided any real slumps for most of the season, he finished the final games going just 1 for his last 14 with a walk and six strikeouts. It carried over into the playoffs as well, where he went 1 for 7 in two games versus the Dodgers.
If anything, the worst part about Gyorko’s season was that he wasn’t given regular playing time right away! He got just 10 starts in the team’s first thirty games even though he had an .808 OPS and three homers over that span.
Final Grade: A-
If you would have told Brewer fans before the season that with Gyorko, they would be getting a player who would finish top three on the team in homers and have an OPS in the .800s, most would’ve been quite happy with that prognosis, especially after seeing his 2019 numbers.
If you would also have a mentioned that Gyorko would end up finishing the season as one of the team’s best defenders, fans might have wondered why he wasn’t signed earlier. In the end, Gyorko finished 2020 as one of the few players to actually live up to expectations.
At this point, what remains to be seen is whether Gyorko has his second-year contract option picked up to return to the Brewers. Stearns mentioned in his end of the year press conference that payroll could be tight again next year. Still, of all the players with options, Gyorko would make plenty of sense to bring back.
We will have more player report cards coming as the offseason progresses. Stay tuned with Reviewing the Brew as we grade more of your favorite players.