Every year since 2012, we’ve spent some time after the season looking back at those that wore the Birds on the Bat. Whether it’s a bit player that got into just a couple of games or someone that played almost every day, we’ll look at their stats, their positives, their negatives, and grade them based on what we would have expected from them. The stat line is from their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers may include time with other teams, if applicable. Think of this as like the players packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter. Once again, our great header work comes to us from cardinalsgifs, who continues to be a master.
If we’re talking about 2019, we’ve got to highlight the brand that made the most impact this season: Primos and their partnership with Jose Martinez. Throughout the span of these interviews (today through Dec. 5) you can get 10% off your order of that sweet, sweet Cafecito coffee (well, I guess you probably have to doctor it to make it sweet) or anything else at their site. My wife is a coffee snob and we’ve bought multiple bags of the medium roast. It’s a great stocking stuff or Christmas gift as well, especially when you expand your order to pick up the Jose Martinez coffee mug. So use code C70SAVE10 at checkout and show your support of their ties to the Cardinal fanbase!
Player: Paul DeJong
Season stats: 159 G, 664 PA, 97 R, 136 H, 31 2B, 1 3B, 30 HR, 78 RBI, 9 SB, 5 CS, 62 BB, 149 K, .233/.318/.444, 97 OPS+, 4.1 bWAR
Statcast: 8.6% barrel %, 87.0 exit velocity, 34.0% hard hit %, .325 xwOBA
Hero/Goat: Hero 13, Goat 8
Overall grade: B-
Positives: Had a career high in games played….had a three home run game against Pittsburgh….had two four-hit games on the season….had a .782 OPS against righties….20 of his home runs came away from Busch….hit .258 in the first half….had a great April, putting up a .342/.403/.607 line….hit .265 hitting third….13 of his homers came while he was hitting fifth….had a 1.386 OPS when he put the first pitch in play….hit .358 when he had no strikes on him….hit .261 with two outs….six of his home runs came with the game tied….had an .866 OPS in low-leverage situations….was 4-10 in extra innings….14 of his home runs came from the seventh inning on….hit .302 against ground ball pitchers….had five home runs against the Cubs and six against the Brewers….had a 1.002 OPS against Milwaukee….was a finalist for the Gold Glove at shortstop….had the highest walk percentage of his career.
Negatives: Had a career high in games played….hit .140 the last two weeks of the season….had three homers and a .678 OPS against lefties….hit .219 in St. Louis….had a .202/.285/.447 line in the second half….hit .197 when leading off an inning….had a .513 OPS when he had two strikes on him….hit .193 with runners in scoring position….that dropped to .182 (with a .558 OPS) with two outs….had a .569 OPS in tie game situations….hit .195 in medium-leverage situations….hit .191 (though with four homers) against the Reds….hit .154 on offspeed pitches.
Overview: It’s hard to know how much to lay on DeJong’s shoulders and how much to lay on Mike Shildt for continuing to run him out there day after day with no rest. He got only three days completely off all season long, not counting off days. From May 2 to the end of the season, he hit .206 while starting 126 of the 129 games he played. That said, he shouldn’t have been all that worn out in May and, after getting basically the day off on May 2 (pinch-hitting in the ninth), he hit .202 the rest of the month.
You have to give him credit for continuing to try to improve his batting eye and his strikeout rate actually decreased and his walk rate increased for the third straight year. His fielding was strong (and it got better after the season, at least statistically) and putting him in an infield with Kolten Wong and Paul Goldschmidt was wonderful for the pitchers. All that said, there were too many times when you expected nothing out of DeJong at the plate and were not disappointed.
Outlook: As we know, DeJong’s a smart player and I’m sure he’s making some adjustments this winter to continue to improve things. He did have a career high mark in homers and RBI, though some of that comes from all that regular play. It’d be great for the Cardinals to find a reasonable replacement for DeJong. You’d still like to see him out there 140 times a year, but there’s a difference between that and 159. If Tommy Edman can’t be that guy, the front office needs to find someone on the free agent market that can. Give DeJong a break!