If I can keep it up all month, 31 days of positive posts! There's going to be enough negativity going around with the Cardinals not in the post-season.
Today's positive October post is a look back at the season that was for Paul DeJong. DeJong tied for 2nd on the team in position player bWAR and was 3rd in position player fWAR. He was basically 3.5 wins above a replacement player in just 2/3 of a season played due to injury. Extend that out to a full season and we're looking at a 4.5 win player, easy.
DeJong is probably the closest thing the Cardinals have to a young core player locked up through his presupposed prime years. He's wrapped up to a contract that will pay him just a shade over $22M over the course of the next 5 seasons and then $27.5M in club options through the 2025 season (his age 31 season). The Cardinals can have Paul DeJong play SS for them for the next 7 years if they want to and pay him less than $50M. According to Fangraphs' $ Valuation system, DeJong has been worth exactly $50M over the first two years of his contract, in just 933 plate appearances and 1,910 2/3 innings in the field. Assuming DeJong stays healthy enough to play 80% of the team's games played over the next 7 years, he will have approximately 4,000 more PA and 8,000+ more innings in the field to accumulate value.
DeJong finished 1 home run shy of 20 homers this year. He finished 2 shy of Jhonny Peralta's 21 homers back in 2014. He has two of the three highest HR total seasons of Cardinals shortstops in the history of the Cardinals and he's only played in 108 games one season and 113 games this season. The kid has averaged just 466 PA in his first two seasons in the bigs and has 49 xbh per season, and has finished with 25+ doubles in each season.
Anyway, back to 2018 and positivity! DeJong was only in his second full season ever playing SS and he finished with a 2.1 dWAR on baseball-reference and finished with a DRS of +14 while his UZR was a +7.1. He was somewhere between 7 and 14 runs better than league average at SS in 2/3 of a season. Get him up to a full season and we're looking likely at a 12-15ish run saving SS over a full year if he keeps this up! Like Bader (who I wrote up yesterday, see the link at the end of the article), I feel like DeJong is one of those Cardinals prospects who is meeting well above his 50th percentile projections overall. He's pushing the boundaries of what he can do and succeeding while pushing those boundaries at the highest level in the world.
DeJong has been amazing to watch. My favorite stats for DeJong this year are that, while injured, he lowered his strikeout rate from 2017 from 28% to 25.1%...while also raising his walk rate from 4.7% to 7.3%. He basically took from one and gave to the other. That nearly doubled his BB to K ratio. He did that while still keeping his ISO near .200 on the year. He did this by lowering the percentage of pitches at which he swung but by making contact on 88% of pitches within the strike zone. Well done Pauly D!
Positive October Day 4 is in the books!
In case you missed them: