The Cardinals offense has been most consistent part of the young 2019 season. Marcell Ozuna and Paul Goldschmidt are among the National League Leaders in home runs with 11 and 9 respectively. Jose Martinez has done exactly what we thought he would do… absolutely rake to the tune of a .354 batting average. What might be a surprise to some is who is arguably your most productive player thus far.
You might recall that earlier in the off-season I was very high on DeJong. Back in October of last year I wrote about my thoughts on whether DeJong could be an impact player in 2019 as well as compared his young career to that of Trevor Story of Colorado. At the end of this piece I gave my projections for DeJong which you can see below.
| 31 HR | 91 RBI | 42 BB | 132 SO | .283 BA
But then I decided to double down. Not only could DeJong be an impact player… But he could be an MVP type of player. So in January of this year I wrote another piece trying to dive into whether or not DeJong could put up MVP type numbers. In the end I settled on a bold prediction saying DeJong could finish in the top 5 for the NL. But with that came new projections. Take a look.
36 HR | 110 RBI | .283 BA | .903 OPS |
As you might notice I didn’t include the walks and strikeouts. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that. DeJong would have to lower his strikeout rate and raise his walk rate. He was able to do it going from his 2017 to 2018 season so that along with the Cardinals signing Jeff Albert as the hitting coach gave me hope that DeJong could do it.
I had DeJong projected with the above numbers striking out 22.1% of the time which is down from his 25.1% of 2018. I also had his walk rate rising from 7.3% in 2018 up to 9.4% in 2019.
DeJong has blown my projections out of the water to begin the 2019 season. And I couldn’t be happier.
DeJong for MVP
36 G | 140 AB | 7 HR | 14 2B | 17 RBI | .336 BA | .408 OBP | .600 SLG | 1.008 OPS | 2.6 fWAR
The power has been there for DeJong as he has 7 home runs on the season. If he keeps up that pace he should finish with 30-32 home runs. But what is more impressive about DeJong is that he is barreling up the ball and taking extra bases. He currently leads the Major Leagues with 14 doubles on the year giving him 60-62 projected on the season. I do not think that pace will keep up, but he’s been putting on a hitting clinic this season. He’s hit safely in 31 of 36 games this season.
So back to the strikeout and walk rates.
Strikeout Rate – 22.1%
Walk Rate – 9.4%
Strikeout Rate – 15.9%
Walk Rate – 9.6%
So as you can see, his walk rate is incredibly similar to my projections, but his strikeout rate has dropped nearly 10% from last year. Call it the Jeff Albert effect if you’d like, but he’s made adjustments and it’s showing. He’s currently second in Major League baseball with a 2.6 fWAR sitting only behind Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers.
Paul DeJong has made improvements Walk Rate 2018 – 7.3% 2019 – 9.2% Strikeout Rate 2018 – 25.1% 2019 – 16.4% Call it the Jeff Albert effect or whatever you want to call it, but DeJong is dangerous right now. #STLCards #TimeToFly
We haven’t even talked about his defense yet. DeJong made significant strides in 2018 when it came to improving his defense, and he hasn’t missed a beat. Take a look at where he ranks among all MLB Shortstops when you look at the metrics. (26 qualified)
DRS – 4th in MLB
RZR – 5th in MLB
UZR – 2nd in MLB
UZR/150 – 6th in MLB
DEF – 2nd in MLB
Feel free to take a look at Fangraphs in order to get insight on each of these metrics, but basically, DeJong is one of the best shortstops in baseball from a defensive standpoint. He currently sits at 0.6 dWAR according to Baseball Reference which is good for a tie for 10th among all positions and 4th among shortstops.
DeJong had solid years in both 2017 and 2018 where he put up a WAR of 2.7 and 3.5 respectively. In just 140 at bats he already has a WAR of 2.6. That’s absolutely insane.
I do expect there to be some kind of regression during the season, but if DeJong keeps it up, a top 5 finish may not have been high enough. I’m looking forward to see how DeJong plays the rest of the year. I guess I made a pretty solid pick on my fantasy team this year.
What are your thoughts?
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