Paul DeJong has gotten off to a slow start for the St. Louis Cardinals. While fans may be ready to bench him forever, it may just be time for a little change for the shortstop.
When a manager puts their one-time All-Star shortstop in the clean-up position of the batting order, you tend to have high expectations. Placing a quality, high production bat behind Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado is important for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Basically. You don’t play around.
For his career, Paul DeJong has hit .249/.318/.454 with a 105 wRC+. He has 79 homers and 240 RBI. Granted, DeJong was not consistently in the cleanup position as he’s started this season. In past seasons his hit anywhere from second to further down in the lineup.
While he’s been in the cleanup position for the eight games played thus far, his numbers are not matching up to what one would expect from DeJong.
According to Baseball Savant, in 34 plate appearances, he is hitting .107/.265/.321 with just a .586 OPS. DeJong has had three hits, two of which were home runs hit in the second game of the season in Cincinnati.
What is more concerning is that he has 12 strikeouts, including three ugly strikeouts in Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
We are eight games into this season, but many of the vocal fans on social media have been quick to call for the
benching of DeJong, I think that is a bit too much.
It’s possible the cleanup position may not be the right fit for DeJong.
Manager Mike Shildt should consider either moving DeJong or Carlson to second in the order ahead of Goldschmidt and Arenado. If Carlson is second in the lineup, move DeJong a couple of spots after the clean-up spot with Yadier Molina in the cleanup spot. If DeJong is moved to the second spot, place Carlson in the cleanup position.
It may also prove beneficial to move DeJong further down the lineup, after Molina or possibly trading positions with Carlson who has had a hot bat in this young season hitting in either the sixth or seventh position. Carlson is hitting .192/.290/.577 with one double, three homers, nine RBI, once hit by a pitch, and three walks. Carlson has struck out nine times.
The change in lineup scenery might be beneficial to him as well.
With the fan base already feeling frustration with the lineup after eight games, we can suspect there is some frustration for Shildt and the team. It is obvious the status quo is not necessarily working. I would expect to see some lineup tinkering in the next few games. The team and the fans do not need more frustration in a young season with so much promise.