by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
A year ago Trevor Story was a rookie shortstop who set the baseball world on fire. This year similar accolades are being bestowed upon Cardinals’ rookie Paul DeJong, who entered the weekend hitting .305 with 19 HR and 46 RBI over his first 279 PA in the Majors. Could he face a similar fate to that of Story, who has gone from fantasy hero to fantasy zero in the matter of months?
It’s a comparison that’s worth exploring, so let’s take a look. First, some of the underlying metrics:
Line Drive Rate
Fly Ball Rate
It’s not hard to see some similarities, as both players struggled with strikeouts, benefited from a bit of luck and also posted somewhat bloated HR/FB. Story had the benefit of playing half his games in Coors Field, however, something that DeJong does not.
That makes the outlook a little bit worse, as it’s easy to imagine DeJong facing a regression. The difference is it could come faster, with Story missing the end of ’16 due to injury. Who knows how he would’ve performed late in the season had he been healthy, but seeing DeJong’s struggles start late this season wouldn’t be a surprise.
In regards to the strikeouts, DeJong has struggled with all types of pitches (Whiff%):
- Hard – 11.89%
- Breaking – 20.83%
- Offspeed – 20.91%
That means opposing pitchers can attack him in multiple ways, and that doesn’t offer much hope for a rebound.
When it comes to his power, he’s already hit 32 HR between Triple-A and the Majors. That would make you think that the inflated mark was sustainable, though he only hit 22 HR in 496 AB at Double-A in 2016 (and 5 HR in 219 AB at Single-A back in ’15). That’s not to say that he can’t be a source of power, but there certainly would be fear that he becomes infatuated with the long ball (and that could lead to even more strikeouts).
As it is he hardly walks, and has seen both his strikeout rate (32.2% in the second half) and fly ball rate (44.0% in the second half) rise since the All-Star Break. Those are warning signs, and it’s very possible he follows a similar path to that of Trevor Story. We aren’t suggesting you drop him today, just know the risks and be prepared in case the struggles come quickly.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out our Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects by clicking here!