Coming into the season most experts didn’t really know what to do with Paul DeJong. Through the first 70 games last year, DeJong hit .281 with 13 HRs, 50 runs, and 34 RBIs. He even stole 5 bases. The last 92 games on the other hand were nearly the opposite as he did he 17 home runs but it came at a cost as he hit a putrid .194 AVG. The question remained which DeJong was the correct one leaving most of picking one side or the other. Then the 2020 season started up and once again DeJong is off to a blistering start (2-4, 2 R, 2 RBI) . It’s just two games but he is right back to his hot-handed early season ways, hitting .429 with a homer, 3 runs and 4 RBIs! The problem is, do we believe it?
There was a time when DeJong was a darling of the baseball community. After hitting .285 with 25 HRs in 2017, big things were expected for DeJong and he’s been a bit of a disappointment since. In a large part this has been because of a complete inability to handle the high fastball as he had a .243 wOBA against heaters up in 2019. I will have to see him make an adjustment to counter that pitch before I can fully buy into any hot start to the season, especially since that the current meta in pitching right now. On the other side of things DeJong has been red hot all of 2020. He was crushing the ball when Spring Training was suspended and picked up right where he left off during Summer Camp. I haven’t yet been able to find any evidence of a swing change or new approach but what if DeJong has figured some things out or made some adjustments? It’s certainly something we will have to keep an eye on as the season continues as he has been hitting well for a lot longer than just the past two games this year.
So what do we do with DeJong if he continues to rake? It is worth noting that even though he hit just .233 last year he did hit 30 HRs with 97 Runs and 78 RBIs which is still a pretty valuable hitter. The Cardinals seem committed to him in the cleanup spot and there really isn’t anyone to challenge him for that spot. We’ve seen him break off a 70 game stretch that would put him among the leagues best this year so we certainly know he’s capable of elite production for the shortened season. If nothing else in daily leagues he’s a great bench player who you can slot in when he’s facing RHP or if you have a nice AVG buffer/punting AVG then he will contribute enough in the HRs, Runs and RBIs to make it worth rostering him.
Let’s see how every other hitter did Saturday:
Leury Garcia @ MIN – 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI –
While this was one heck of a game for Garcia, I wouldn’t expect this as the new norm for him as he’s never hit more than nine home runs in a single season. Don’t be quick to dismiss him either though as he did hit .279 last season with 93 runs and 15 stolen bases. That will play. In an improved White Sox lineup we could see Garcia get to 40 + runs and steal 5 bases or so.
Phil Gosselin @ MIA – 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB –
This is the kinda day that makes baseball the greatest sport on earth. Nothing is better than when a 31 year old journeyman has a career day that makes the entire thing seem worth it. We shouldn’t expect to see too many more days like this from Gosselin as he mashes lefties but struggles against RHP which will likely keep him stuck on the short side of a platoon with Roman Quinn in the outfield. Doesn’t matter though, no matter what happens from here Gosselin gets this day and that’s awesome.
Victor Robles @ NYY – 3-4, R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI –
After a tumultuous Summer Camp, it’s good to see Robles get off to a hot start. If he continues to hit like this we’ll either get to see him move up the lineup or flourish as that so-called “second leadoff hitter” that will allow him to get on base with Trea Turner, Adam Eaton, Starlin Castro and eventually Juan Soto there to drive him in.
Asdrubal Cabrera @ NYY – 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI –
I firmly believe that long after you and I are gone Asdrubal Cabrera will still be playing second base somewhere and still putting up respectable numbers. He’s played nearly everyday for the Nationals so far and in shortened season where there won’t be as much wear and tear on his aged body (he’s literally three months younger than me so that hurt to write), we could easily see another really solid season from Cabrera.
James McCann @ MIN – 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI –
McCann has flown under the radar as one of the more solid catchers in the league but now that’s backing up Yasmani Grandal he has to make every at bat count and he certainly did that on Saturday.
Giancarlo Stanton vs WSH – 2-3, R, HR, 2B, RBI, BB –
Stanton hit one of the longest home runs I’ve ever seen as he mashed a tater an astonishing 483 feet on Saturday. Off to an incredibly hot start and looking healthy for the first time in years, Stanton has barreled the ball half the time he’s hit it so far and is making us all wonder if slept on another potential MVP caliber season from the Yankees outfielder.
J.P. Crawford vs HOU – 3-4, R, 2 3B –
We’ve been waiting for years for J.P. Crawford’s awakening and perhaps this is finally the year. All I know is that he’s come out of the gates on fire through two games. It will be interesting to see if this is start of something fantastic for the former top prospect or simply a blip in a strange season but he had a heck of a day yesterday.
Paul Goldschmidt @ PIT – 2-5, 2 R, HR, RBI –
The past few years Goldschmidt has built something of a reputation for being a slow starter so it’s encouraging to see him getting off to a good start. The Cardinals offense should be solid again this year and so there’s no reason not to expect Goldschmidt to continue to be an elite across the board contributor this year.
JaCoby Jones vs CIN – 2-6, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI –
The home run here from Jones was nice but I wouldn’t expect too many more as he never had more than 11 home runs in a full season.
Nelson Cruz vs CWS – 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI –
In case you were wondering if last year was a fluke, Nelson Cruz is picking up right where he left off last season with the Twins. If Cruz can stay healthy while hitting in the heart of that vaunted Twins lineup then we could absolutely see a season of 15+ HRs with 40+ Runs and RBIs, especially since he’ll get to feast on weak Central Division pitching for much of the season.
Christian Yelich vs CHC – 1-5, R, HR, 2 RBI –
There had been rumors that Yelich was all out of sorts during Summer Camp so it was really awesome to seem him park one. The best in the league always figure it out.
Lorenzo Cain vs CHC – 3-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI –
As someone who is rooting for the Lorenzo Cain resurgance, Saturday’s performance was encouraging. He looked spry on the basepaths again and was making the kind of contact we expect from a healthy Cain.
Joey Votto @ DET – 2-4, R, HR, RBI, BB –
Having homered for the second straight day, you have to wonder if Votto is back in business for the suddenly scary Reds. He has yet to swing and miss in 9 plate appearances and if the Reds can continue to average around 5.5 runs per game then 40+ runs is a real possibility for Votto hitting out of the 2 hole.
J.T. Realmuto @ MIA – 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI –
Anytime I see Realmuto hit a HR I can’t help but hope we’re seeing the next stage of his power evolution. Getting one on day two is just music to my ears.