Apr 6, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder David DeJesus (7) doubles against the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field. Texas Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

David DeJesus Reminding Everyone Why Rays Committed to Him

When the Tampa Bay Rays agreed on a two-year extension with David DeJesus worth $10.5 million with a third year option, it was a strange deal right from the start. $5 million a year might not be a lot of money for other teams, but for the Rays to give that much money to a player with DeJesus’ deficiencies was quite surprising. The Rays were really committing to two years on a 34 year old platoon outfielder? Of course, the deal had its benefits as well–DeJesus was a player that the Rays had long admired, and he had the ability to be a solid contributor for them over the life of the contract. When DeJesus struggled to begin the season, however, everyone’s worst fears had been realized.

From his second at-bat on April 8th until the end of the Rays’ game on April 20th, DeJesus went 0 for 24 with a lone walk. It does not get much worse than that. Overall, he had a .119/.196/.214 line through 46 plate appearances, and he was doing this primarily from the leadoff spot. Every game against a right-handed pitcher, DeJesus would step up to the plate first and be a guaranteed out. DeJesus looked lost at the plate, and the dread only increased in Rays fans when the realized that DeJesus is also signed for 2015. Then, before we knew it, DeJesus had gotten back on track and made clear why the Rays want to keep him around.

In the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader, DeJesus drilled a solo home run and battled Jake Peavy for a bases-loaded walk, driving in both Rays runs in their 2-1 win over the Boston Red Sox. It was DeJesus at his best, but it was only the most recent example. Since he broke that 0 for 24, DeJesus now has a .348/.516/.652 line with a double, 2 homers, and 8 RBI in 31 plate appearances. The craziest thing, though, is that he has drawn 8 walks while striking out just twice. In fact, the reason stretch has gotten DeJesus’ pitches per plate appearance up to 4.68 on the year, the most in baseball minimum 25 plate appearances. DeJesus is not quite this good, but the Rays know they can rely on him to provide quality at-bats and be a valuable piece of their lineup.

A big deal was made last year about the Rays’ “swarming” offense. With David DeJesus in a Rays uniform for all of this season, he will complement that but add another dimension as well. DeJesus gives does an excellent job putting the ball in play, but he also works counts to both draw walks and hit the ball with authority. That is in sharp contrast to other Rays hitters like James Loney and Yunel Escobar, who make contact but are extremely aggressive when the opposing pitcher throws them strikes. Loney has been great for the Rays the past two years and the Rays hope that Escobar can return to his 2013 levels at the plate, but neither of them set as good of an example as DeJesus for the Rays’ young hitters. The outfielder to DeJesus’ left, Desmond Jennings, has managed a very good 23-14 strikeout to walk ratio to begin the year. That may be just a coincidence, but having a veteran like DeJesus around has to be valuable to hitters like Jennings and Wil Myers. He can only be a positive influence as both Rays outfielders hope to find the consistent plate approach that will lead them to new offensive heights.

There is a reason that the Tampa Bay Rays coveted David DeJesus for so long before they were finally able to acquire him. He makes the Rays’ lineup better through his excellent combination of contact and discipline and he could be just as valuable off the field. That is the type of player everyone wants on their team, and the Rays feel lucky to have him for at least the next two years.

Next Rays Game View full schedule »

Tags: David DeJesus Tampa Bay Rays

  • Phattitudes

    You gotta love his enthusiasm. He is definitely an asset. A lot of that comes from the fact the he is a veteran. He understands that slumps will end and expectations need to be managed. He knows what steps to take when things aren’t working. All the qualities he has are turning out to be the missing ingredients for Brandon Guyer. He is lost and does not know the way out. He is trapped. No options to go down. No chance to work it out as a regular in the lineup. Forsythe may be in a similar state but he has some experience to fall back on. De Jesus will be fine but right now, Guyer and Forsysthe are black holes in the lineup versus lefties. Is it time to part ways with Guyer and put him on waivers? Would Sands or Betemit be a more productive roster member?

    • Robbie_Knopf

      This sounds nuts, but what Brandon Guyer really needs to do is suffer some injury and go onto 15-day DL. Then, get him a month of playing time at Triple-A, bring him back, and figure out what he actually can be. That way you can send him to the minors and still not lose him. If Guyer has the slightest amount of soreness, I’m sure the Rays will do that.

      • Phattitudes

        Couldn’t agree more. The only solution is getting regular ABs somewhere and regaining his stroke. Hey, he is “injury prone”; so let’s see an injury. I am a believer in Brandon but it looks like this 3 ABs a week is not going to work for him. His lost time killed him and he may need a new home to get the chance he needs.

        • david egbert

          The truth is that the Rays made a real mistake in keeping Guyer and letting Sam Fuld go. Knowing how to come off the bench and play is a real skill.