Paul DeJong will be the face of the St. Louis Cardinals by 2021. Change my mind.
He's currently on a team with the organization's most iconic catcher, one of its most beloved pitchers ever, and one of the best hitters in baseball for the past 7+ years. Molina and Wainwright are established leaders and recognizable figures tightly associated with the Cardinals. Paul Goldschmidt has been a superstar for many years (and hopefully for several more).
I do not think those things will matter. If Molina and Wainwright both decide to hang around a bit longer, it won't matter. If Goldschmidt continues to be Goldschmidt, it still may not matter. DeJong is the best of them all right now, and it's possible that he's just getting warmed up.
If you were forced to pick one Cardinal player to be an All-Star this year based on performance, which one would you choose? Who really is the most deserving of that kind of recognition?
Think of it another way. Which player is the most under-the-radar-needs-national-attention-not-even-Uber-drivers-in-other-cities-know-who-he-is guy?
Please tell me you didn't think of anyone other than Paul DeJong.
DeJong had the most low-key push for ROY in 2017, and if not for Cody Bellinger coming really close to 40/100 in nearly a full season, DeJong could have netted the award with just 2/3 of a season under his belt. I've watched a lot of baseball since then and have heard DeJong getting very little love for that runner-up finish.
Such is the relative anonymity of a player who legitimately is the team's MVP to this point of the season. He's also the embodiment of what I believe the BFiB value in a franchise player.
He's not controversial, and he doesn't come off as someone who ever will be. He grew up in Illinois, so he's not too far from being a local guy. He was a 4th round draft pick in 2015, so he's not someone many thought was a lock for stardom (or even success). He's solidified the position the Cardinals have struggled most to fill with a long-term solution for the past decade.
Including team options, he's signed through the 2025 season. If you buy his jersey, you probably don't have to worry about it being outdated before you've defiled it with a mustard stain at Busch.
He doesn't have neck tats, he's not quite as outspoken and extroverted as some 6'7" pitchers, and he hasn't received the fanfare that accompanies a 5 yr / $130M extension.
What he has done is become a top 5 shortstop by turning himself into a plus defender and plus baserunner in addition to being the most productive hitter on the team.
And he looks comfortable playing with puppies.
He's pretty much everything you could ask for in a franchise player, and there's plenty of time for him to get the neck tats.