Texas Rangers Should Continue the Delino DeShields Experiment
By Jason Burke
On Saturday night the Texas Rangers continued to tinker with their lineup, moving Delino DeShields Jr. to the two-hole behind the resurgent Shin-Soo Choo and in front of the best hitter in the Ranger lineup, Prince Fielder. While the end result was a heartbreaking loss in the ninth at the hands of visiting Cleveland, the team scored eight runs, receiving contributions up and down the lineup.
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While DeShields went 0-for-4 on Saturday, he did have an rbi and a run scored. Not exactly a flashy debut near the top of the order, but there are reasons to believe he could become a fixture in this spot in the lineup. Take his .286 batting average, which is only behind Fielder (.340) and Kyle Blanks (.327) on the team. DeShields’ on-base percentage of .407 leads the team however, and putting him in front of Fielder, the team’s batting average leader makes a whole lot of sense moving forward.
The counterargument is that DeShields has these sterling statistics in limited action. However, for a Rule 5 pick to be performing at this high a level, especially coming to the big leagues without a single game in Triple-A, is a good sign. If he can provide a jolt batting second, the speedy DeShields could see his name on the lineup card quite a bit in the coming days until Josh Hamilton returns sometime in the next week.
The speed that Delino displays will be a tool that could play well with Fielder hitting behind him. Prince has struck out just 19 times in 147 at bats for a strikeout percentage of 12.9. This means he makes contact at a good rate, which is perfect for the team to put on some hit and runs. When the offense isn’t clicking, something will have to kickstart it, and DeShields could do the trick.
When Hamilton returns, he will likely see the majority of time in left field with his splits against righties and lefties being about equal in terms of batting average. Instead, it’s possible DeShields could see some extra action in centerfield with Leonys Martin struggling at the dish, collecting just three hits in nine games in May.
Another option would be to have Hamilton DH with Fielder manning first and Mitch Moreland getting the day off. This would leave left field wide open for DeShields to roam, and would give the Texas Rangers their best defensive outfield. Then again, if Thomas Field begins to struggle at second base, that is another position that DeShields could offer some help if Rougned Odor is still struggling in the minors.
There are options for the Rangers to consider, but the idea of a lineup headed by Choo, DeShields and Fielder sounds tantalizing.