Rangers Are Getting Delino DeShields Back at the Perfect Time
By Kenneth Nash
Delino DeShields’ return from injury is perfectly and crucially timed for this struggling Rangers team.
When Delino DeShields went down with an injury in the first series of the season, it was a bit of foreshadowing of how the Rangers season was going to go. Losing your leadoff man and starting center fielder is a big blow to most teams but for Texas who lacked any depth options, it was a bit crippling.
Drew Robinson and Carlos Tocci formed a tandem fill-in crew while the speedster recovered but their drop in both offensive production and defensive reliability showed how important Delino is to this team. Both guys started the season on the Opening Day roster but were merely fill-ins for days off with Robinson expected to make more appearances than Tocci. With Delino going down on April 2nd to surgery in his hand, Robinson was thrust into the starting center field role. To say he struggled at the plate would be a bit of an understatement. Drew is batting just .175 having appeared in 19 of the Rangers 23 games this season. He has been a bit of small bandaid on a wound that needed stitches. Tocci was decidedly even worse at the plate. The 22-year old has appeared in 11 games and is hitting a shockingly low, .080. With just 2 hits and 12 strikeouts and 25 at-bats, Tocci has been a bit of a liability at the plate and had Rangers fans chomping at the bit to get DeShields back.
Call to the Pen
Delino did return and impressively, only 3 weeks after having surgery in his hand to remove a broken hamate bone. Originally expected to miss up to 6 weeks, DeShields was activated Sunday with one of his replacements, Carlos Tocci, headed to the DL.
Texas desperately needed their leadoff man back. The Rangers offense as a whole was pretty pitiful through the first 20 some odd games of the year. They rank 10th in runs scored in the AL, 12th in batting average and 11th in on-base percentage. They were pretty lifeless at the top of the order and with subsequent injuries to Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus, the offensive load was heavily shifted to Nomar Mazara and Adrian Beltre. With the return of DeShields, speed and some consistency is once again at the top of the Rangers lineup. The 25-year old is coming off a career year at the plate hitting .269 and posting a .347 on-base percentage.
Defensively, the Rangers were also struggling. Although Tocci in his time was errorless and Robinson had only racked up 2 outfield errors, the difference between abilities was pretty visible. Robinson and Tocci just lack some of the athleticism of Delino has. In 2017, DeShields accumulated only 2 errors in 106 games split between center field and left field.
Long story short, getting the speedy outfielder back both offensively and defensively could provide a spark that this Texas team was very much in need of at this point in the season. If Texas can somehow survive until Odor and Andrus return Rangers fans could finally see what this team at full strength is capable of and then can start making some wholesale judgments on the club.