ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong has hardly slowed down since wrapping up a season that landed him a second-place finish for the National League Rookie of the Year Award. There has been time spent in the chemistry lab, several road trips around the Midwest and, of course, plenty
ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong has hardly slowed down since wrapping up a season that landed him a second-place finish for the National League Rookie of the Year Award. There has been time spent in the chemistry lab, several road trips around the Midwest and, of course, plenty of hours spent preparing for next season.
MLB.com caught up with DeJong to learn more about what he's been up to this offseason and what his plans are for the holidays:
MLB.com: Now that you've had additional time to reflect on your 2017 season, what stands out to you most?
DeJong: It was pretty surreal if I think about how much my life changed. But I think what I took away most is I have the confidence to play in the big leagues, ability-wise. Now it's about the nitty-gritty of everyday work and performing from here on out. It's more about setting up new challenges for me from here on forward.
MLB.com: What areas do you target for improvement in 2018?
DeJong: As a hitter, I'd definitely like to manage the zone better and get on base more. I think it's a process-based thing, not a result necessarily. A lot of that comes with experience. As little things go, I want to be a better infielder. I want to be a better baserunner. I want to be a steadier run producer. There are a lot of things that I think I can do better, so working on each of those things is on my list.
MLB.com: How did you feel your body held up going through a 162-game schedule for the first time?
DeJong: I felt great, even toward the end. What hit me was when [Cubs outfielder Leonys] Martin robbed me [of a home run], and that kicked us out of the playoff chase right before our last series. That's when it hit me, that, "162 games. Wow." But overall, I felt like I was ready to play in the playoffs and that I was ready to make a push. I felt like I prepared the way I needed to prepare to stay healthy for the full season.
MLB.com: In addition to getting ready for next season, you've also spent a little time in a science lab recently. What brought you back into the classroom?
DeJong: Dr. [Lawrence] Rocks, [father of agent Burton Rocks], is creating this sports chemistry field. He thinks it can merge with sabermetrics as a data collection tool. We did an experiment together where we tested the effect of temperature on the elasticity of a ball dropping 50 centimeters, and we found a sweet-spot temperature of between 68-75 degrees.
I think anecdotally, that's a good conclusion because if you think about me taking BP in St. Louis when it's 90 degrees, the ball feels like it doesn't go anywhere. It feels like mush.
MLB.com: Will you be returning to the lab again this offseason?
DeJong: Nothing planned. Talking about it is fun, but I'm more into other simple things [like] working with my hands off the field, working on my truck or working with my grandpa, helping him do some home-improvement projects. I stay busy in other ways like that. Science, being in the lab, is a tough thing for me to do nowadays because I don't have access anymore.
MLB.com: What plans do you have for the holidays?
DeJong: I'm going to be in Orlando, hanging out with my parents. I'm just happy to be back down in Florida. I just returned recently. I've been bouncing around Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois. I did some fishing and hunting, attended some weddings and homecoming events at [Illinois State University].
It's funny because I had so many ties to Cardinals country before I ever signed with the Cardinals. Now I go back, and everyone knows me because of the Cardinals.
MLB.com: What's on your Christmas wish list this year?
DeJong: Maybe something for my boat. My fish finder is broken, so I need a new one.
MLB.com: Have you set any New Year's resolutions?
DeJong: How about win a World Series? Cardinals fans should know that we're all preparing, and we're ready to tackle 2018 and look forward to seeing people down there in Jupiter, [Fla.]
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.