One of the prime themes of the 2018 fantasy baseball season is the sudden dearth of steals around the league, while power has exploded everywhere. What this means is that guys who can pick up steals in bunches such as Trea Turner, Jose Altuve, Billy Hamilton, and Jose Ramirez are more valuable than ever. It also means that there are fewer sleeper steal options to check out in the middle-to-late rounds of drafts as well. While this is clearly a stark trend, Texas Rangers outfielder DeLino DeShields Jr. certainly is on the sleeper radar when it comes to steals and he has been for the last two years as well. While DeShields can run like the wind, his ability to hit major league pitching has held him back before but in 2017 he seemed to suggest the light bulb has gone on there a bit to add to the hype. On that front, these are the numbers DeShields posted in his 376 at-bats with the Rangers a year ago:*****PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE: EARLY OFFSEASON EDITION ON AMAZON. USE THE LINK BELOW TO PURCHASE.*****
Looking at the numbers, DeShields is at the very least a good two-category guy; contributing nicely in runs and especially in stolen bases which is his ultimate calling card. DeShields' .269 average last season though was big progress from the .209 he batted in 2016 and that was helped by him improving both his BB/9 and K/9 rates last season. In particular, DeShields' 10.0 BB/9 was classic leadoff stuff and so DeShields at the age of 25 could very well be figuring things out against major league pitching. If DeShields gets on base at a consistent clip like he did a year ago, the steals could be immense and make a literal run at 40 or more. Yes there is not much power to speak of here as you will take big hits in homers and RBI but DeShields' improvement as a hitter and raging speed do in fact make him a super mid-round selection for those in search of increasingly tough to find speed.
When you put it all together, DeLino DeShields seems like a prime post-hype sleeper worth checking out this spring and his overall outlook has never been brighter at this point leading up to a new season. Take advantage of the discount here and reap some steals reward.
2018 PROJECTION: .257 8 HR 38 RBI 84 R 39 SB