Pittsburgh Pirates: Players You May Not Have Known They Draft Pt. 2

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WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 14: Paul DeJong #12 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on prior to playing against the Washington Nationals in Game Three of the National League Championship Series at Nationals Park on October 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 14: Paul DeJong #12 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on prior to playing against the Washington Nationals in Game Three of the National League Championship Series at Nationals Park on October 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

Paul DeJong

Paul DeJong is the St. Louis Cardinals current shortstop, but was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014 in the 38th round. As a catcher of all positions. The Pirates weren’t able to sign DeJong, but imagine if the Pirates did sign him, and developed him as a catcher. Think of how different the current catching situation might be.

Regardless, DeJong went on to be drafted by the Cards a year later in the 5th round as a third baseman. He stuck to the hot corner for most of his minor league career, and only transitioned to shortstop full-time in 2017.

After a hot start to the year at Triple-A, DeJong was called to the Majors and was outstanding. In 443 plate appearances, DeJong batted for a .285/.326/.531 line and 25 home runs with 26 doubles. Among rookies with at least 300 plate appearances that season, DeJong’s 123 wRC+ ranked 5th across the board. His fWAR of 3.1 ranked 3rd behind the two Rookie of the Year winners, Cody Bellinger and Aaron Judge.

Defensively, he graded out as a solid, but unspectacular defender at short with 0 DRS, 2.1 UZR, 1.1 range runs, but -6 outs above average. He also received some playing time at second base, but it was only a 158 inning sample size. Overall, he finished just behind Bellinger in Rookie Of The Year voting. His great rookie season earned him a 6-year contract for a guaranteed $26 million.

Obviously, expectations were high for the middle infielder following 2017. DeJong would become an outstanding fielder the following season at short, posting +12 DRS, a 7.1 UZR, 6.6 range runs above average, and 9.3 UZR/150. While OAA still posted him as below average at -5, he was still an above average defender, but his bat took a hit in the process. DeJong turned in a .241/.313/.433 line and 19 home runs across 490 plate appearances. His wRC+ dropped by 20 points down to 103.

So far, 2019 was his best defensive season. At shortstop, DeJong was tied with division rival Javier Baez for the lead in DRS at +26. However, DeJong led all shortstops in UZR (11.4), and posted above average range (2.2 range runs above average), the third highest UZR/150 (9.6), and outs above average finally agreed he was a good defender with +13. But like in 2018, his bat fell another peg. Despite having a career high home run total at 30, he still posted underwhelming numbers including a .244 BA, .313 OBP and .444 slugging percentage. DeJong had an wRC+ of 100, placing him at league average.

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