5 most important players for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2022

Nolan Arenado #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals drives in a run with a sacrifice fly against the Milwaukee Brewers in the fifth inning at Busch Stadium on September 28, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Nolan Arenado #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals drives in a run with a sacrifice fly against the Milwaukee Brewers in the fifth inning at Busch Stadium on September 28, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – SEPTEMBER 25: Paul DeJong #11 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a home run against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on September 25, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – SEPTEMBER 25: Paul DeJong #11 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a home run against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on September 25, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

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.

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