It was a very unlucky year for Paul DeJong to say the least. He made solid contact overall, which led to a solid .340 BABIP, but he had just three home runs and a .250 batting average to show for it. For DeJong, the .250 average is actually quite good, but the three home runs left a lot to be desired, especially when you consider the fact that he hit 74 home runs between 2017-2019. Some of his batted ball metrics don’t line up with his overall statistics from 2020, so there’s reason to believe that DeJong should return to his normal production in 2021. Although, the Cardinals lineup is going to look a little bit different thanks to a gift from the Colorado Rockies, and that can really help the St. Louis shortstop.

Before we get into his batted ball profile, let’s talk about DeJong’s plate discipline. He posted a walk rate above nine percent for the second straight season, and last year’s 9.8 percent mark was the best of his young career. It likely comes as no surprise with an elevated walk rate that he stayed in the strike zone more, leaving the zone just 28 percent of the time. Of course, that was a career best for DeJong.

The game of baseball shall giveth, and the game of baseball shall taketh. You’ve probably heard that ancient proverb before! At the dish, DeJong struggled to make contact when he did swing the bat in 2020, posting a career low 69.8 percent contact rate and a career-worst 14.7 percent strikeout rate. Because of that, as you might expect, his strikeout rate ballooned to a career high 28.7 percent.

Despite chasing less on fastballs and breaking pitches, his strikeout rate increased? Yes, because despite chasing slightly less, when he did chase, he missed more frequently.

Missing more across the board hurt DeJong and led to the elevated strikeout rate. There’s always going to be some strikeouts in his game, but he should be closer to a 25 percent strikeout guy compared to a 30 percent strikeout guy in 2021.

Now, the other big takeaway from DeJong’s 2020 campaign is a .099 ISO. Yes, three home runs and six doubles across 45 games isn’t going to result in a high ISO, but after being at .193 in 2018 and .211 in 2019, what the heck happened? His exit velocity was in the same realm and his barrel rate was within around a half of a percentage point. His launch angle was up, so what about his exit velocity on just fly balls and line drives?


Avg. Exit Velocity on FB/LD










Nope. Nothing abnormal there. He underperformed his expected slugging metrics by a good bit. His xSLG was .408, and guess where his slugging percentage marks were in recent years? .433 and .444. What didn’t help DeJong was the fact that his HR/FB ratio dropped to 6.4 percent, whereas he posted a 16.1 percent rate from 2017-2019.

Another thing to monitor in 2021 for DeJong is if teams shift him more frequently. Teams did it about one quarter of the time in 2019, albeit to little avail. However, in 2020, the results were staggering. It was pretty clear where the infield needed to line up when DeJong came to bat.


GB Pull % / GB Oppo %



62.6% / 11.1%



68.3% / 8.9%



54.8% / 13.3%



58.6% / 3.4%



DeJong’s ground balls are to the left side of the infield or up the middle nearly 97 percent of the time. Why even put someone to the right side of the infield? Slightly exaggerating, but you get my point. It worked in 2020, too, as his .341 wOBA with no shift vastly exceeded his .256 wOBA when a shift was deployed.

A lot of the metrics show that DeJong’s 2020 season was most similar to his 2018 season where he parked 19 balls with 68 RBI across 115 games. There’s more pop in his bat there, especially if he makes hard contact like he did in 2020 and he’s a tad bit luckier with balls leaving the yard. Returning to more normal marks should bode well for DeJong, and in a great lineup, he could be staring down the barrel of his best statistical season yet. If he remains at the top of the order, he should score plenty of runs, especially with Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado there to bring him around.

DeJong is currently the 23rd shortstop off the board, per NFBC data, and he is incredible value if you ask me. If he runs like he did in 2019, he’ll provide a massive return on investment. Even without the stolen bases, his batted ball profile should remain steady, his strikeouts should come down a bit, and he should be able to provide somewhere around 25 home runs, 85 runs scored, 80 RBI and a .250-ish batting average. At his current price, he’s a guy you should be actively targeting in all formats.


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