After a red-hot start with a revamped swing, Paul DeJong has hit another cold stretch without a base hit. Should we be as concerned as we were in years past with DeJong at the plate?
Due to an unusual scheduling quirk, the St. Louis Cardinals had two days off before Friday's game at Pittsburgh. Having played nineteen games in nineteen days, this team needed a physical (and perhaps mental) break from baseball. Starters Nolan Arenado and Willson Contreras recently broke their hitting slumps against the Royals this week. Paul DeJong, on the other hand, did not.
DeJong is mired in an 0-for-23 slump at the plate. He has seen his on-base percentage drop from .371 to .311 and his slugging percentage drop from .596 to .495. In the last six games, DeJong has picked up one strikeout each game. There’s a history with Paul DeJong when it comes to great starts that eventually crash and burn out. Is this another episode in the DeJong show?
Right now, it is too early to tell if Paul DeJong reverts to near-automatic-out status. DeJong has been able to produce the highest HardHit percentage of his career to this point. His wOBA (.346) is the second-best wOBA he's had in his career since he broke into the majors (.359 in 2017). DeJong's almost-identical xwOBA (.345) is his career best to this point. In fact, he's tied with Giovanny Gallegos on the team in bWAR at 0.9, which is higher than Arenado and Contreras.
Perhaps if this was any other hitter on the St. Louis Cardinals, we would shrug it off as a cold stretch. Unfortunately, that's not the case with Paul DeJong. Viva El Birdos notes that DeJong was eventually going to deal with regression, as a 48% HardHit rate was unsustainable. In addition, DeJong may have experienced some bad luck. Hopefully, the two days of rest will give DeJong, and the team, refueled energy for their six-game stretch against the Pirates and the Rangers.