Things may be moving too quickly for Delino DeShields. Unfortunately, his window is closing to stay in the Texas Rangers starting lineup.
Everyone loves Delino DeShields. He’s a Rule 5 draftee that works hard and leaves it all out on the field. He also makes the Texas Rangers a drastically better team when he is doing his job as a leadoff hitter. The problem is he has not been doing his job as a leadoff hitter as of late. DeShields controls center field and the leadoff role; however, recent and future occurrences might just place each role at risk.
Delino DeShields is playing poorly
DeShields was hitting .301 on May 8th. As of today, May 31st, he is hitting .224. Thus, in 23 days, his average has plummeted 77 points. His OBP has decreased from .364 to .301 over that span as well. DeShields’ recent performances are a significant concern. His primary weapon is of course his speed. Therefore, his most important contributions to the Texas Rangers are OBP and stolen bases. If the speedster doesn’t reach base then he can’t steal bases and he can’t score runs…that is a problem.
Ultimately, the leadoff role is too important to be wasted. Leadoff hitters set the tone for the rest of the lineup and are also set up to get the most at-bats. The way Delino DeShields has been playing lately is not living up to the role.
The scouting report on DeShields is not any secret, at least it shouldn’t be. Opposing pitchers have constantly been attacking him with high fastballs and very little of anything else. Delino has routinely been late on high fastballs, especially ones with high velocity (something most MLB pitchers have). It just so happens a fastball is the easiest pitch for most pitchers to get over the plate. For this reason, DeShields is not walking much either.
Hopefully he is just in an elongated slump. Bad weeks and even bad months happen in baseball. The good news is he seems to be one adjustment away from turning things around. With that said, he is running out of time.
A couple more lineup shakeups are on the way
It won’t be long before Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus are back in the starting lineup. While that is outstanding news for the Texas Rangers and their fans, it is not such good news for Delino DeShields.
There will be an obvious surplus once Beltre and Andrus do return. And as fragile as Beltre has been this season, it is very likely he gets a timeshare at DH. So, what does that mean?
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Shin-Soo Choo is the current DH. Choo has been one of the hottest Rangers hitters so he will stay in the everyday lineup. But Beltre as the DH means Choo heads to the outfield–an outfield that includes Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo.
Mazara will continue to play everyday and the Rangers love to have Gallo’s power in the lineup on a nightly basis. Frankly, Delino DeShields seems to only factor in as a possible matchup play. Delino could get some time against left-handed pitchers while Gallo faces the right-handers. However, you also have to consider the fact that this is a growing year for Gallo. Texas prefers he gets at-bats against southpaws and that he takes on an everyday role.
It will be interesting to see how the Texas Rangers play it. Looking ahead, it seems the logical way is to play Gallo, Choo and Mazara in the outfield and use DeShields as defensive replacement/pinch runner. DeShields can platoon as well. Admittedly, a Gallo, Choo, Mazara outfield does not standout from a defensive perspective. Though, you know the old saying…”if you can hit, you can play”. DeShields is not hitting; Shin-Soo Choo is.