St. Louis Cardinals: Paul Dejong’s rookie of the year case
Even after a rough season, the St. Louis Cardinals got a mention in the awards finalists thanks to their young shortstop.
Last night Paul Dejong became a finalist for National League Rookie of the Year. After manning shortstop part way through the year, Dejong put up impressive numbers and cemented his place as a starter for the foreseeable future for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Unfortunately, here comes the bad news. Dejong will be up against Cody Bellinger for said award. Essentially Dejong is playing for second, because Bellinger seemingly locked up the award at the All-Star break. This isn’t to take away from Dejong at all. He had an incredible rookie season. He just happened to face someone who had a head start and played possibly the hottest baseball of anyone in the early parts of the season.
When looking at Dejong’s stats, it’s hard not to be impressed. Dejong had twenty-five home runs in 108 games, not including the thirteen home runs in forty-eight triple-A games. Thirty-eight home runs over 156 games between AAA and the majors is an impressive feat. The hope is the power will continue to develop and Dejong can be a thirty-five home run guy year after year.
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Between Bellinger and Dejong, the power is comparable.
Bellinger has the edge, but it’s not too far apart. One of the biggest differences between the two is their ability to take pitches. Cardinal fans all know how much of a struggle it was for Dejong to take a walk.
Through his first 108 major league games, Dejong had an abysmal 4.7% walk rate. Fangraphs would actually rank Dejongs K% (28) and BB% (4.7) as both being awful.
In comparison Cody Bellinger had an above average BB% (11.7) to pair with his awful K% (26.6).
It is no question that Dejong has to see the ball better to continue to have success at the major league level. A 4.7% walk rate doesn’t strike fear into anyone, except for fans and management. This isn’t about bashing Dejong though, he had a great year and looks to be on his way to a solid career. He is a young player who will continue to develop more and more.
The Cardinals got very lucky with Dejong. He didn’t project out to be as successful as he was this year. Whether or not he sticks at shortstop remains to be seen but his bat will most likely slot right into the middle of the order for years to come.
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When the Rookie of the Year is officially announced, Cody Bellinger’s name will be called. That doesn’t take away from the year Dejong had in any way. Cardinal fans should be excited about the future of their current shortstop.