Dejong Is Still Young – Why His 2018 Was An Improvement

paul dejong
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Now I know you are looking at your fantasy team and thinking, how was Paul Dejong’s season an improvement for my team? Truthfully, it wasn’t, at least from a fantasy perspective. His future outlook, however, is quite bright.

Let’s start with the basics. Dejong burst onto the scene hitting 25 home runs for the 2017 Cardinals while batting .285 in 105 games. If it weren’t for the historic performance of Cody Bellinger, Dejong may have very well been the NL Rookie of the Year. This year he has hit 14 home runs in 85 games while batting .234. He has battled injuries, but those aren’t excuses for why the numbers aren’t there. As such, he could be labeled as a disappointment this year. However, for the purposes of this article, I’m interested in the deeper numbers, the numbers that don’t count in fantasy leagues.

First, Dejong’s plate discipline. Full disclosure, plate discipline is something I obsess over with hitters. Dejong had a 4.7% walk rate in 2017, giving him a .325 OBP. In 2018 he has an 8% walk rate, giving him a .311 OBP. So right off the bat, Dejong seems to have developed a better eye. Just watching him over the course of the season seems to support that theory, as he often lays off the high fastball and slider outside the zone. His strikeout percentage is still high at 26%, but that is a 2% improvement over last year.

His GB/FB ratio has also improved from 0.79 to 0.68. So while Dejong isn’t hitting more home runs, he gets the ball in the air more often. His hard contact is also up almost 2% over last year. Dejong is learning how to go the other way, hitting the ball to the opposite field at a 5% increase over 2017.

Dejong also adjusted his swing after Harrison Bader noticed a problem with his batting stance. The results haven’t been there, as Dejong is batting .195 in the month of August, but this article isn’t focused on what he is doing this year for your fantasy team stat-wise, but rather why you should have your eye on him in drafts next year. His BABIP is down, but I think it’s around normal for him. A .349 BABIP last year seems a bit high for Dejong, but his current .280 seems more reasonable.

A down year may not help you this season, but it should give Dejong a major discount in 2019 drafts. He is one guy I will be looking for in drafts as a buy low guy.

What are your thoughts on Dejong?

Is he a bounce-back candidate in 2019?

As always you can contact me at @fantasyaid1 on Twitter.

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