No. 5: Paul DeJong
Time is running out for Paul DeJong to show what type of player he can be in the MLB. After DeJong’s fantastic rookie year in 2017, the shortstop’s wRC+ has fallen each year. With 19 or more homers in four of his five seasons, DeJong has proven that he can hit for power as a shortstop but the team needs him to do more.
In 2021, DeJong’s 86 wRC+ and .674 OPS were not enough to keep him in the starting role as he lost his spot in the daily lineup to the youngster Edmundo Sosa down the stretch. Falling to a bench bat after starting the year as the team’s cleanup hitter is a tough pill for anyone to swallow, but it is clear that the Cardinals aren’t afraid to bench DeJong if he isn’t performing.
DeJong’s 2021 struggles were masked, in part, by the blossoming of Tyler O’Neill, but in 2022 the team needs DeJong to add length to the lineup. A lot of things went right for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2021 and doing that without DeJong’s help is going to be hard to repeat.
DeJong is slated in as the Opening Day shortstop likely batting 6th after he won back his spot this spring. Over 10 games, DeJong showed a slightly new stance and hit three doubles and two homers, getting on base in more than half of his 22 at-bats.
The biochemist has the brains, it’s just time to see if he can finally get back to the player he was in 2017.