The Rangers are finally living up to their word.
OK, so it was more of an implication than a word, but the way they talked about Delino DeShields in March suggested that the spring training leader in stolen bases and runner-up in walks would not only claim the starting left field job but also bat leadoff in a high-powered lineup.
Turns out he didn't start until the third game of the season. In fact, he started just five of the Rangers' first 21 games, batting leadoff only once.
I don't know what changed exactly. Maybe manager Jeff Banister thought, with that high-powered lineup struggling out of the gate, that the Rangers could use a spark. But on Wednesday, he inserted DeShields into the leadoff spot. He hasn't removed him since, keeping him there for five straight games.
And all of a sudden, DeShields' primary competition, Jurickson Profar, has been sent in the minors.
Clearly, DeShields has lived up to his end of the bargain so far, reaching base at a high rate and running wild once he gets there. It's a conscious effort on his part after a disastrous 2016 in which he sold out for power, and it shows he's a more refined hitter than pure burners like Jarrod Dyson or Rajai Davis. It's crazy he's only 19 percent owned.
Jedd Gyorko homered twice to the opposite field Tuesday, both in excess of 410 feet, which continues the pattern of sending the ball that way one-third of the time as opposed to one-fifth as in years past. He always struck out at a low rate for a player with his home-run power, so I could see him hitting for average if this adjustment continues. And oh yeah, you can play him at second base, third base or shortstop.
Sunday's outing was notable because of the opponent, but it was far from an isolated incident. Eduardo Rodriguez will have to improve his 5.4 walks per nine innings to stick in Fantasy, but he has picked up where he left off in terms of strikeouts, his fastball-changeup combo giving him the fourth-highest swinging strike rate in the majors, behind Jacob deGrom, Chris Sale and Danny Salazar.
Just like that, Josh Bell is on a 25-homer pace and with the kind of plate discipline (11 walks to 16 strikeouts -- a 71-to-104 pace) we expected all along. The rookie is built like a power hitter, and the leap to the majors may have made "eventually" a reality as far as that goes. He could threaten for top-10 status at first base, especially in points leagues, so let's beat the rush to him now.
Jose Reyes had a higher point-per-game average than Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor or Carlos Correa after joining the Mets last year. A slow start moved him out of the leadoff spot, but seeing as he still works the count and runs a fair amount, he could return there in short order. Given his across-the-board skills at a weak position, you shouldn't overlook the 33-year-old.
Alex Wood's grip on the starting role appeared to be in danger when the Dodgers announced earlier this week that they'll give Rich Hill another go when he's ready to return, but then they put Hyun-Jin Ryu on the DL with a hip contusion Monday. They suspect Ryu will miss the minimum 10 days, but the fact is Wood has been better than Ryu so far this year and seems to be gaining the confidence of his manager.
Tuesday's start will give us a clearer indication whether or not he'll stick, but as lacking as the waiver wire is in starting pitching, you may want to secure him now even if it ends up being just a one-day thing.