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Sunday, June 19, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: IAN DESMOND SS/OUTFIELDER TEXAS RANGERS

Yes sometimes it all comes down to the ballpark.  And a fresh starts helps as well.  Combining those two themes has resulted in one of the better comeback stories in 2016 fantasy baseball and that story can be found in the Texas Rangers outfield where former Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond is showing us all that he is far from done in terms of being an impact player both in real and in our fake game.  Having stupidly rejected a sizable contract extension from the Nats prior to the 2015 season, what happened next was the classic case of a train wreck season as Desmond put up a career-worst campaign that had him cut loose in more than a few fantasy baseball leagues.  A three-time 20/20 man who developed into a firm top five fantasy baseball shortstop the previous five years, Desmond's 2015 was comically bad both in the field defensively and at the dish.  The result was a horrific .233 average and a drop below the 20/20 mark with 19 home runs (still a very good total for a shortstop) and 13 steals.  Thus the Nats showed no interest in Desmond once free agency began and the veteran was forced to take a below-market deal with the Texas Rangers and in turn make a position change to the outfield which would hurt his earning potential even more than it already was.

Fast foward to present day and Desmond as we said earlier has been one of the smashing success stories of 2016 fantasy baseball.  Still shortstop eligible for one more year despite being an everyday outfielder now, Desmond has upped his numbers in a tremendous way across the board.  Hitting in an offensive park for the first time in his career, Desmond goes into Sunday's games with a .311 average (which would be a career-high by a mile if the season ended today), to go with 10 home runs and 12 stolen bases.  A few things are at work here in addition to the ballpark boost which is a sizable help given that Texas annually has some of the best offensive dimensions in the game.  In addition to that, Desmond has drastically cut down his K rate which had gotten way out of hand both in 2014 and 2015.  Consider that in 2014 and 2015, Desmond's K rate was a miserable 28.2 and 29.2 percent which went a long way toward his average sinking from a previously decent .280 to very sketcky .255 and .233 marks.  In 2016?  Desmond has cut that number WAY down to 22.4 percent which is a huge reason as well that he is hitting over .300 which is territory we never see him at.  Of course Desmond has also gotten some help in the luck department as his .378 BABIP is into lucky territory by a WIDE margin.  That means the average will come down for sure but Desmond's above average speed will help curb a total crashing of that number.  A .280 average is where Desmond should be at considering the K Rate and some BABIP adjustment and that we can more than live with considering how nasty he has been in that category the last few seasons.

In addition to the average boost, Desmond is now running again at his old 20/20 levels and the Rangers historically have been a big stolen base team.  20-plus steals seems certain again and 20 home runs is also likely considering the pace he is on.  While at shortstop a 20/20 campaign is tremendous, it is also very useful in the outfield.  Considering that many got Desmond as a middle-to-late round pick and the value has been sizble.

When you put it all together, Ian Desmond has been one of the best value plays in fantasy baseball for 2016.  While it will stink that he loses shortstop eligiblity, Desmond is showing that he is still ready to be a big-time weapon for another few seasons at least.

 

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