DeJong's case for consideration was built not only on the offensive production he provided, but also on the stabilization he gave the Cardinals at a key defensive position. A team receiving underwhelming production at shortstop found its answer in DeJong, who became the first member of the organization's 2015 Draft class to ascend to the Majors when he was called up in late May.
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Within a month, DeJong had taken over as the starting shortstop. He never lost the job.
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DeJong's impact only grew, too, as the Cardinals eventually turned to him in their search for a three-hole hitter. He ended up batting third 51 times, more than any other player on the team.
DeJong's production warranted such a prominent spot in the lineup. He hit the first of his 25 home runs in his first Major League at-bat and became the first rookie to lead the Cardinals in home runs since Albert Pujols, who was the Cardinals' last Rookie of the Year in 2001.
DeJong's 25 homers in his first 108 games ranked second among all rookies in 2017, as did his 52 extra-base hits. Only Bellinger eclipsed DeJong in both categories.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.