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Thursday, January 26, 2023

After winter revamp of swing in ‘the lab,’ Paul DeJong eyes decisive spring with Cardinals

“This is the first offseason where I’m truly optimistic about the changes.”

Asked how best to illustrate those changes, DeJong shared a split-screen video Wednesday that had synced his new swing on the left to his abandoned swing on the right. The three-second clip showed the hours of work he’s put in over these winter months. Gone is the lift of his left foot, replaced instead with a twist for timing. From that moment it’s clear in the new swing how his head remains still, his sight-line level. What follows is a swing that keeps his torso upright, less lunging for balance, and then doesn’t snap forward until contact. His previous swing came down on the ball with a negative attack angle, as if chopping wood, instead of using the lumber to lift liners.

He finished his former swing by releasing his right hand for a one-handed follow-through. Now after a positive attack angle, he holds tight for a two-handed follow-through that maintains control through the entire sweep of the swing.

The results have been like the split-screen: On the old side, a ground ball spins off the end of the flicked bat as DeJong’s swing finishes high, straight-armed but body bent forward.

jimfurtado Posted: January 26, 2023 at 11:45 AM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, paul dejong

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 26, 2023 at 12:27 PM (#6114590)
But is he in the best shape of his life?
   2. My name is Votto, and I love to get Moppo Posted: January 26, 2023 at 01:15 PM (#6114595)
His OPS+ has declined five years in a row. I doubt that's the record, but I wonder what is.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: January 26, 2023 at 01:39 PM (#6114603)
That's gonna be tough to beat ... and if deJong adds to his "record" he'll be out of baseball by May. To top that, surely it would have to be a C, SS or somebody like Brooks Robinson (it's not Brooks) or, these days, a Miggy type (it's not Miggy).

Pujols did it 5 times but not when you think -- 192, 189, 173, 148, 138, 116, broken by a 126. Or maybe that is when you think.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: January 26, 2023 at 01:44 PM (#6114605)
Pudge II gave it a try but kept barely improving now and then -- 137, 95, 97, 84, 87, 74, 73, 66 is clearly in the spirit but doesn't meet the criteria.
   5. DCA Posted: January 26, 2023 at 02:14 PM (#6114613)
Bagwell declined 6 years in a row to end his career: 164-152-140-135-128-116-94. Was above average all the way until the end (dead average in 39 games in his final season). Very nearly did it 9 in a row, the preceding 3 years were 178-168-158.
   6. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: January 26, 2023 at 02:21 PM (#6114616)
At the other end is David Ortiz, who went -43, 101, 107, 120, 144, 145, 158, 161, 171.
   7. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 26, 2023 at 02:25 PM (#6114617)
Kevin Seitzer to start his career - 142, 128, 122, 106, 103, 95. Had a nice comeback later in his career though.
   8. salvomania Posted: January 26, 2023 at 02:28 PM (#6114619)
I'd love to see DeJong get back to being an average bat, or even a bit below, as his defense grades out so well that he would be a very valuable piece to have, allowing Edman and Brendan Donovan to mix and match all over the diamond on days when he plays SS.

In 2019, when he had a very pedestrian OPS+ of 99, he still compiled 5.3 bWAR.

Even last year, when he had an OBP of .245 and an OPS+ of just 53 in 237 PA, he still put up a positive bWAR (0.3).

I can see why the Cardinals want to give him every chance to succeed, especially as he's owed $9.2M for 2023. (He can be bought out of his 2024-25 contract years for $3M). He's still only 29, but the trendlines aren't encouraging...
   9. Walt Davis Posted: January 26, 2023 at 04:13 PM (#6114645)
Possibly deJong is the most ordinary hitter to pull off the decline quinella. It's clearly not so hard to do if you're starting out at 170 -- that's just aging with the bad luck not to have a late bounce.
   10. The Duke Posted: January 26, 2023 at 09:28 PM (#6114708)
Allen Craig did five years in a row and went from 151 to 21. For an encore he did 21 again in his final year. With the exception of his shirt rookie year, that's his whole career. I wonder if anyone has ever had a whole career with declining OPS+. Craig also did this in his "prime" years

Lou Brock did 5 years as well
   11. The Duke Posted: January 26, 2023 at 09:33 PM (#6114710)
Garry templeton almost did it twice. From 1979 to 1983 he went from 112 to 77. Then for an encore he went down four straight years from 88-91 going from 84 to 54.

He racked up 28 bWAR
   12. Rough Carrigan Posted: January 26, 2023 at 11:11 PM (#6114730)
I thought Dave Stapleton might have done it with the Red Sox in the early 80's but he just missed.
Starting with the 1980 season, his OPS+'s were: 113, 109, 87, 76, 55, 59, -10
   13. Howie Menckel Posted: January 26, 2023 at 11:39 PM (#6114731)
Rhys Hoskins had a "best shape of my life" story the other day and I wondered if it would earn a thread....
   14. Baldrick Posted: January 27, 2023 at 04:10 AM (#6114740)
Ken Griffey Jr. had six seasons in a row. It's exactly when you think.

Another fun fact: from age 29 onward, Ken Griffey Sr. was actually better than Jr. (18.5 WAR compared to 18.1)
   15. DCA Posted: January 27, 2023 at 10:18 AM (#6114755)
Ken Griffey Jr. had six seasons in a row. It's exactly when you think.

That's only 5 seasons of lower OPS+ than the previous. I think it's still just Bagwell that we've found with 6 drops in a row.
   16. Cooper Nielson Posted: January 27, 2023 at 10:19 AM (#6114756)
Cecil Fielder declined in 7 of 8 straight seasons, including the last 5.
   17. Cooper Nielson Posted: January 27, 2023 at 10:47 AM (#6114763)
Carlton Fisk ended his career with 5 down years; Tony Peña had 5 down years in the middle of his career.

Kurt Suzuki has an active streak of 5 straight down years -- if he plays this year, he can make it 6 (needs to be lower than 60, which is doable).
   18. Baldrick Posted: January 27, 2023 at 01:52 PM (#6114790)
That's only 5 seasons of lower OPS+ than the previous. I think it's still just Bagwell that we've found with 6 drops in a row.

Oh, duh, you don't count the first number in the sequence as a decline because by definition it's the high point.

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