Paul DeJong is proving doubters wrong since latest call-up, and it could completely change things for the Cardinals.
There were few critics harder on Paul DeJong than me. I wrote numerous times how the St. Louis Cardinals made a mistake starting him at shortstop over signing one of the high-priced free agents this past winter.
For the first half of 2022, it looked like I was right. But after DeJong was called back up to the majors, he has looked like a completely different player, and it’s becoming clear that myself – and many others who doubted DeJong – may have been wrong.
In those 11 games, DeJong, 29, is hitting .297/.400/.757 with a 1.157 OPS, four home runs and 13 RBI. He has resembled every bit of the player that the Cardinals bet on when they signed him to a six-year, $26 million extension in 2024. And now, he’s proving why the organization bet on him instead of signing Carlos Correa, Trevor Story or any other shortstops in a historically deep free agent class.
Of course, it’s on DeJong to continue this level of performance for the remainder of the 2022 season. But all indications, both from his performance on the field and his mindset away from the field, would seem to suggest that this version of DeJong is here to stay. And what that does for the Cardinals, both now and going forward, is a total gamechanger.
It would lock down the shortstop position at a cheap rate ($4ish million per season) and give them the flexibility to pursue adding another high-profile player. Just look at their Juan Soto pursuit this year. The fact that they were so serious about adding Soto suggests that they can be players for anyone on the open market. Even Shohei Ohtani.
The DeJong storyline is perhaps the coolest development of what is shaping up to be a thrilling 2022 season for the Cardinals. And he’s proving many doubters – myself included – wrong as he helps lead the franchise to a division title – and perhaps even further into the postseason.