Expect 2019 to be the breakout year for Paul DeJong and Kolten Wong. Last year established DeJong and Wong as defensive standouts, and I believe this year they become solid offensive contributors for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Many Cardinals fans may not know, but Paul DeJong and Kolten Wong were in the top ten in Defensive WAR in baseball last year. Wong came in tied for sixth with a 2.3 Defensive WAR and DeJong came in at tenth with a 2.1 Defensive WAR.
DeJong and Wong belong to an impressive group in the Top Ten Defensive WAR. Oakland A's third baseman Matt Chapman came in first with a 3.5 Defensive WAR, followed by Angel's shortstop Andrelton Simmons at 3.1, Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed at 2.9, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor at 2.5, Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain at 2.4, Tigers outfielder JaCoby Jones is tied with Wong at 2.3, Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu at 2.2, Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte at 2.1, and then DeJong.
So now the challenge for both players is to up their game offensively, and I believe they will.
Paul DeJong made his major league debut on May 28, 2017 at Coors Field. He was named the starting shortstop for the Cardinals in June after Aledmys Diaz was optioned to Memphis. In 108 games, DeJong showed his power and RBI potential when he hit a slash line of .285/.325/.532 with 25 HRs and 65 RBIs. Defensively, he was solid in 2017 with a Rtot/yr of 4 and Rdrs/yr of 0.
Rtot/yr and Rdrs/yr are defensive metrics per Baseball Reference that measures a players defensive performance, with 0 being average.
DeJong's 2018 season was interrupted when he suffered a fractured left hand that required surgery in a game on May 18th. He was reactivated on July 6th and struggled offensively, hitting a slash line of just .241/.318/.746 with 19 HRs and 68 RBIs. However, the 25-year-old's defense improved significantly by raising his Rdrs/yr to 17, thus landing him in the top 10 in Defensive WAR for 2018.
Kolten Wong's major league career has been, literally,an up and down affair since he was called up in 2013. From being picked off on first base in the 2013 World Series vs the Red Sox, to being demoted to AAA Memphis in 2014 after struggling at the plate in April, to being named NL Rookie of the month for May after his return, illustrates Wong's career with the Cards.
For those of you who remember,Kolten Wong often reminds me of former Cardinal shortstop Garry Templeton of the late 70s and early 80s. Making the great plays, but sometimes struggles to make the routine plays. In 2016, the Cardinals even experimented with Wong in the outfield for 16 games.
Wong's career has seen him play as many as 150 games in 2015 and as few as 108 games in 2017. The left handed bat has a six year slash line of .255/.325/.388 and has only hit above the .240s in 2015 and 2017.
However, the 28-year-old Wong had his best year defensively in 2018. He had a Rtot/yr of 15 and a Rdrs of 25 in 127 games. Wong was also credited with saving 19 defensive runs and nominated for the Gold Glove award. along with having the sixth best defensive WAR in baseball.
Expectations for 2019.
The St. Louis Cardinals need a full year from Paul DeJong and Kolten Wong in 2019. Both players established their defensive credentials last year, and hopefully, will up their offensive game this year.
In the past both DeJong and Wong have shown they can be offensive weapons for the Cardinals. We saw a sample of DeJong's in 2017 and Wong's in 2014 and 2015. Kolten Wong is a classic top-of-the -lineup hitter who has speed and can steal bases. Paul DeJong is a middle-of-the- order bat who has power and thus RBI potential.
I believe 2019 will be a breakout year for both players. Defensively they have proved themselves,now I believe they will do it offensively.
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