Delino DeShields? More like Delino DeSTEALS. I know, I know. Pretty corny but it really is just so fitting. He not only stole a bunch of bases last year, but he represents a great opportunity for a late-round steal in your upcoming drafts. His amazing speed, combined with his ability to get on base and run the bases well makes him a intriguing player especially in the SB and run department.
Tied for 7th in steals last year with 29, DeShields was one of the biggest threats on the base paths and looks to continue that. With a 78% success rate in his SB attempts last year, DeShields should continue to get plenty of green lights this year for Texas. His BsR, or base running runs above average, was tied for 3rd best in the MLB last year at 9.2. The value he adds while on base means lots of stolen base and run scoring opportunities for him and the owners that realize this draft day bargain.
In addition to 29 SBs, DeShields hit .269 with a .347 OBP to go along with 6 HRs, 75 runs, and 22 RBIs. Keep in mind that he only had 440 plate appearances over 120 games as he was not an every day player last season. However, DeShields is preparing to be the starting CF for the Rangers in 2018. This would allow him to bring his stolen base and run total up if he is able to continue to get on base with the additional at-bats. His .269 average may have been a little higher due to a .358 BABIP, but his career .332 BABIP seems to suggest that he will be able to hit for around that average again. His K-rate of 24.8% definitely is not great, but he is a disciplined enough hitter to retain a respectable batting average in today’s environment. He has shown he is capable of getting on base despite the K-rate, evidenced by his .347 OBP supported by a healthy 10% walk rate. Though he may not be a full 5-category contributor as his power numbers aren’t there, very few players actually are. That is why adding someone like DeShields who will give you robust SB numbers, opportunities to score, and a decent average late-round can really bring balance to your team.
Steamer/Razzball projections have DeShields with a .249 average and .333 OBP to go along with 10 HRs, 74 runs, 51 RBIs, and 32 stolen bases over 595 plate appearances. Those are some pretty solid numbers and I believe the 25-year old outfielder could even take another step forward on the basepaths. I would say that a 35-40 SB year is possible for DeShields. In order to do so he must continue to walk at his 10% rate while also trying to limit strikeouts. Though he definitely hits better against righties (.277 vs .250), I don’t see him struggling against lefties to the point where he is in a full platoon. If the Rangers are ready to move forward with DeShields as their everyday CF, he can yield superb fantasy numbers.
Let’s see where he is going currently in drafts.
Average Draft Position (ADP)
Given how high some owners reach to ensure they get some stolen bases, I am pleasantly surprised to see his ADP fall out of the top 200 currently. If you average these 3 sites you come out with an average draft position of 204.7. DeShields’ going rate is roughly a 20th round pick in a 10-team league, and a ~17th pick in a 12-team league. Not too shabby at all for someone who swiped 29 bases last year and seems primed to crack the 30 mark this season.
In my eyes, he could essentially be a
poor wise man’s Billy Hamilton for H2H leagues this year. I know what you’re thinking, BHam did steal 59 bases last year compared to DeShield’s 29. However, Steamer has that number dropping to 46 for Hamilton while it also has DeShields swiping 32 bags. Given a H2H season is usually 20 matchups for the regular season, according to Steamer Hamilton would add 14 more stolen bases over those 20 matchups. Essentially, Hamilton would only be adding .7 stolen bases per week to your team. Those .7 SBs probably won’t win you many more matchups especially when you consider his poor average and offensive output. While .7 steals a matchup is still an improvement, this may not seem as juicy when you consider Hamilton’s ADP is currently 60.8 according to NFBC. That is nearly 12/14 rounds before DeShields is coming off the board.
Here’s the rest of Steamer’s projections for the two speedy outfielders:
Hamilton: .242 avg /.301 OBP, 7 HRs, 62 Runs, 43 RBIs, 46 SBs
DeShields: .249 avg /.333 OBP, 10 HRs, 74 Runs, 51 RBIs, 32 SBs
Looking at these projections, it is hard to justify taking Billy Hamilton THAT early in drafts this year. Especially when you compare the rest of his projected hitting numbers to DeShields who is available much later in the draft. DeShields is projected to edge Hamilton in 4 of the H2H hitting categories, with Hamilton having the advantage at stolen bases. Even if he repeated the 59 SBs from last year, it is still tough to justify taking him 12/14 rounds before DeShields given his poor hitting skills.
Of course it is still early so DeShields’ situation throughout Spring Training should be monitored. His ADP could rise significantly come draft day, or even fall if the Rangers were to indicate less playing time. However, as things currently stand I see Delino DeShields being criminally underrated in fantasy baseball at his current 204.7 ADP. Especially when you consider a very similar H2H player is coming off the board in rounds 5-6. If Billy Hamilton swipes 60+ bags and increases his OBP, I can see this coming back to bite me. But I really don’t see him getting on base at a much higher rate and thus I see him as a one category specialist being drafted too high. DeShields, while not a 50+ SB threat, still heavily contributes in one of the most scare categories and is a more well-rounded offensive player. I’m not telling you to completely avoid Hamilton if you like him, but check out DeShields as a late-round steal.