With Nomar Mazara returning soon, the Texas Rangers will have to adjust their outfield. Perhaps it’s time to move on from Delino DeShields in center field.
The Texas Rangers have some curious defensive decisions to make as early as today. That may not seem like big news considering their current collection of versatile defensive players; however, these decisions could include the benching of a long time starter or the benching of a prized prospect.
Nomar Mazara is the cause for change. Mazara is expected to be activated from the disabled list today. He will retake a spot in the outfield and in the middle of the Texas batting order. With Mazara returning to the outfield, which current outfielder will be booted?
It’s time the team demotes DeShields to a defensive specialist/pinch runner role. Texas simply has too many good young players, and one of them losing playing time in favor of a vastly struggling DeShields is not reasonable.
In 2018, DeShields is hitting .205 with a .304 OBP and a .578 OPS in 81 games started. He hit .096 with a .203 OBP over 16 July games and he’s hitting .167 with a .286 OBP thus far in August. Remind you, this is a player best known for his speed. DeShields failing to reach base even 30% of the time is unacceptable. He is not putting himself in a position to use his greatest weapon.
Frankly, there just isn’t much space in a lineup for a .205 hitter that doesn’t hit for power, regardless of how good he is on defense. It does however makes sense for the Rangers to play Gallo everyday despite his .200 batting average. Why? Because he hits home runs and drives runners in. DeShields does not do those things. Playing him on a consistent basis is not helping a lineup that is starting to find its way – for the present and the future.
Who should take DeShields’ spot in center field?
He’s already been mentioned a couple of times…why not test Joey Gallo in center field? He’s certainly not a prototypical center fielder, but he’s shown a great ability to play the outfield corners and he has the overall athleticism to hold his own in center. Two other uncontestable points: 1) there are no other CF candidates and 2) the Rangers have nothing to lose.
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Keep all of the good bats in the lineup on a nightly basis by letting Gallo roam center field. He may misread the occasional line drive or dive when he shouldn’t, but who cares? The Texas Rangers aren’t going anywhere this year so they might as well find a way to get everyone in the lineup that they plan to play next year. With Gallo in center field, Willie Calhoun can stay in left field and Nomar Mazara can hold down right field. Just like that, the problem is solved.
A lesser option is to try Jurickson Profar in center. Though, Profar’s customary infield side-arm motion likely would not translate well to the over-the-top arm motion required in center field. Plus, Profar has had far less experience in the outfield compared to Joey Gallo this year, and I’m not even sure that Profar is that much faster of a runner than Gallo.
Will the Rangers make the DeShields/Gallo swap?
Certainly they’ve weighed the option of playing Gallo in center field. But will the Texas Rangers exercise that option? They’ve had a difficult time taking away DeShields’ playing time in the past. DeShields definitely has a valued outfield glove and Texas always accounts for his game changing speed, even when he goes three months with hardly showing it off.
At this point, it is likely more of a concern that Gallo would be a defensive liability than it is DeShields deserving to stay in center field. Let’s face it, DeShields continues to play practically every game because there are no other options.
Though, Mazara’s return will force the Rangers’ hand. They may finally be forced to use a different center fielder. Gallo in place of DeShields is my opinion; we’ll see how the Texas Rangers decide to play it soon enough.