In 200 plate appearances, there’s four guys that went above and beyond in speed last year. In order of fastest to slowest with slowest still being the very, very3 fastest of the fast players: Jarrod Dyson, Delino DeShields, Rajai Davis and Billy Hamilton. (Fifth is Jake Marisnick which is a name for another day.) None of those qualified last year for the batting title. I mean, even if they did, they wouldn’t have won it, but I mean none of them had a full season of at-bats. Dyson only had 225 plate appearances, Rajai, the King of SAGNOF, had 370 and Billy Hamilton had 454. DeShields had the most with 492. The difference between last year and this year for Rajai, Dyson and Hamilton is a calendar change and nothing else. The first two guys will be platoon guys and Hamilton has his own issues. Whereas, DeShields will not only play every day, but he will also bat leadoff. If he has less than 550 ABs next year, it’ll only be because of an injury. His Speed Score was 8.3. Dee Gordon was 7.3. DeShields gets down the line in 3.8 seconds. 4 seconds is considered to be Cooperstown-type speed. Maury Wills outrunning a motorcycle that’s being driven by Bob Feller’s fastball type speed. DeShields is about as fast as a player has ever been or will ever be. Swish that around in your mouth for a few seconds like you actually consider dental hygiene. In the time it took you to swish that around, Deshields ran from home to first. Anyway, what can we expect from Delino DeShields for 2016 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
One year in the minors, he stole 83 bases. Just about everywhere he played in the minors, he averaged about one steal every two games. Last year on the Rangers in 121 games, he stole only 25 bases. That feels like the absolute worst possible scenario. Like if this was Strat-o-Matic, you’d roll your Yahtzee eight-sided die five hundred times and DeShields would only get 25 steals in a season one time. If that’s how you roll with your nerd die. It seems that it comes down to him being a poor judge of pitchers, since he was caught 8 times. With age, he’ll get better at this. Real World example: The Miz went on to win a WWE championship. Wait, wrong Real World. Okay, another real world example, A.J. Pollock just stole 39 bases, which is more than he ever stole in the minors. He figured out pitchers and how to run, and he did. DeShields could steal 70 bases with the smallest of adjustments. I’d say 45 steals this year would be a conservative prediction. That’s it then, right? Not so fast, Jesse Owens. He had 11 homers one year in Double-A, and Steamer projects him for about ten homers, if he stays healthy. Yes, a ten-homer guy with 60-plus-steal speed. It gets better. Last year, he dropped his strikeout percentage. He only swung at 20% of pitches outside of the strike zone. That’s about on par with Joey Votto. Only DeShields made contact with 85.7% of pitches inside the strike zone, but Votto only made contact with 82.5%. Why do we care that DeShields has a good eye and makes contact? Because of the aforementioned 3.8 seconds to first. DeShields could be the Billy Hamilton everyone expected that they never got. If DeShields hits .315 with 75 steals and ten homers, it wouldn’t surprise me. By the by, that’s first round numbers. Seriously. I’ll be more conservative in my projections for him, but there’s a chance here for one of the biggest impacts in all of baseball with the smallest of steps forward. For 2016, I’ll give him 95/7/46/.279/49 and a huge sleeper.