Delino DeShields on Creating Chaos and Crossing the Plate

When I first talked to Delino DeShields, he was 20 years old and finishing up a season in which he hit .287/.389/.428, with 12 home runs, between Low-A and High-A. More notable is the fact that he stole 101 bases. Hardly anyone noticed. That same year, Billy Hamilton swiped an unprecedented 155.

The introduction to the 2012 interview included the following suggestion: “DeShields may ultimately prove to be the better player.”

The jury is still out. Three-plus years later, the Reds’ jackrabbit has the edge in the running game. However, the more well-rounded Ranger has been better with the bat. In last year’s rookie campaign with Texas, DeShields slashed .261/.344/.374 with a team-best 10 triples. His 25 thefts weren’t anything to write home about, but the son of former big-league speedster Delino DeShields, Sr. isn’t too concerned with stolen base numbers. His primary focus is the Runs Scored column.


DeShields on his overall development: “I’ve come a long way [since 2012]. A lot of that is just maturity and being around the game more and more. Here, I’m around veteran guys who are taking me under their wings and showing me the ropes. These are guys who have been there, done that, and they have your back. They’re always pushing me.

“As far as my progression goes, I feel that I’m definitely at a different point than I was three years ago. Everybody is a little different by the time they get to this level. In the minor leagues, you kind of just stick to one thing, and it works. You get away with a lot of stuff. Here, the pitchers are smarter and more consistent. The game is quicker and you have to slow it down. You have to keep up with the speed.”

On his hitting profile: “My swing is pretty much the same. What’s changed is my mindset at the plate. You have to look into the details of what teams are trying to do to you, specifically, as opposed to the rest of the lineup. You also have to be able to adjust when they adjust.

“I think I have pretty good plate discipline. Whether I get a hit or not, I have a good idea of the strike zone. That goes a long way. If you know the zone and swing at strikes, the other stuff will take care of itself.

“I only hit two home runs last year, but I was just trying to get comfortable and make sure my swing was good. I was just trying to hit line drives. As soon as you start trying to hit homers, things go bad. It’s never a goal of mine to hit a certain number — it’s not my game — but I do have the ability to leave the yard. I’m not a guy who wants to slap the ball and run. I want to drive it in the gaps and hit doubles and triples. That’s me.”

On being a threat on the bases: “I’ve been blessed to have the ability to run, and I can do a lot of stuff with that gift. But I see myself as a guy who can get on base and really doesn’t have to steal bases to be productive. I can be on first and be a distraction. I can cause chaos just by standing there.

“Stolen bases are nice on paper — they’re nice overall — but to me, it’s about getting on. With the guys hitting behind me, if I get on base, we win ballgames. Three-four-five-six, those guys have the capability to drive balls. My thing is that I want to score 100 runs. Get on base 200 times, score 100 runs. That’s my offensive goal, not stolen bases, home runs or RBIs.

“I’d love to steal 100 bases again. But like I touched on, me being on first base is chaotic. Ask any of the pitchers here. If they have a guy who is a threat on first base, they’re more likely to make a mistake. With the lineup we have, I don’t have to go all the time. If they make a mistake to (Shin-Soo) Choo, he’ll hit it in the gap and I’ll score. I’m in scoring position at first base.”

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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Hacksaw Frank
7 years ago

I’m in an NL-only league and you had me excited there for a minute. Should be “the Rangers’ jackrabbit,” yes?

Hacksaw Frank
7 years ago
Reply to  David Laurila

Eh, maybe I should work on my reading comprehension. Anyway, nice work with this. Thanks.