For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season. Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong. The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year. Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter. As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.
Player: Paul DeJong
Season stats: 108 G, 443 PA, 55 R, 26 2B, 1 3B, 25 HR, 65 RBI, 1 SB, 21 BB, 124 K, .285/.325/.532, 121 OPS+, 2.7 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Hero 16, Goat 4
Overall grade: A
Positives: Again, as many did, made his major league debut this season….hit 38 home runs between Memphis and St. Louis….hit a home run in his first major league at bat….went 9-21 (.429) over the last six games….hit 19 of his home runs against righthanders but had a higher OPS (.952) against lefties….hit .358 with a 1.058 OPS under the Arch….hit .313 in the first half….put up a .985 OPS in July….spent most of his time hitting third, where he hit .292 with 11 homers….hit .395 on the first pitch….with nobody out and nobody on had a 1.017 OPS….was best in medium leverage situations (.338/.398/.656)….crushed power pitchers to the tune of a 1.058 OPS.
Negatives: 124 strikeouts in 443 plate appearances is fairly striking, no pun intended….faded a bit in September overall, putting up an .824 OPS….hit just .185 with two strikes on him….had a .634 OPS with runners in scoring position….hit .195 with a .535 OPS with two outs and RISP….in high leverage situations had a .529 OPS….hit 20 points less against teams .500 or better…hit .243 when the Cardinals were behind.
Overview: Unlike some of the others that came up from Memphis this season, we had a bit of an inkling of what DeJong was about, though nobody expected him to be this impactful. Brought up to try to fill the void that Aledmys Diaz was creating with a lost season, DeJong quickly took to the starting lineup and made sure no one was going to take him out of it. Besides Tommy Pham, DeJong may have been the most valuable offensive weapon the Cardinals had this season. Defensively, he wasn’t going to remind anyone of Ozzie Smith, but neither was Diaz. He made plays on a regular basis and didn’t embarrass himself, which is all you really need out of a guy smashing homers all the time. There are obvious concerns about his plate discipline, of course, and the specter of Diaz’s one and done path hangs over him but if 2017 really is an indication of what’s to come, the Cardinals have quite an asset on their hands.
Outlook: I’ve said before that I think the Cards would like DeJong to be the guy they thought they were getting with Jedd Gyorko (before Gyorko became the regular third baseman)–the power-hitting middle infield supersub, playing regularly at third, second, and short. The problem is there are no other options at shortstop. If John Mozeliak was able to bring in a significant shortstop, perhaps moving DeJong to that role would be more palatable, but there’s also the possibility that DeJong will learn a bit more patience while keeping his power stroke. If that’s the case, there’s no real need to get him out of the lineup at all.