Delino DeShields, lottery ticket

Delino DeShields, dart throw
Delino DeShields, dart throw

There isn’t a ton of value to be gleaned from Spring Training results. So many players are simply looking to get into shape, trying this, polishing that. There’s no reasonable case that we should exhaustively study these stats.

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That said, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Spring Training is not completely meaningless. For one thing, some roster spots — and even starting spots — will come down to who plays better in March, and occasionally the grapefruits and cacti can give an indicator for a possible breakout player.

Enough of the preamble. Today’s assignment is to talk about Delino DeShields Jr.

DeShields has been a blur for the Rangers this month, posting a .317 average and .446 on-base percentage, with 12 steals in 12 attempts. It’s pushed him into the left-field discussion for Texas, and it’s possible DeShields will get a chance to lead off when the real games start. He’s an interesting fit for that post, drawing 14 walks in 60 at-bats.

The Rangers lineup is usually deep and bankable; they were seventh in runs last year, third the prior season. They get a full year from Jonathan Lucroy this season. Mike Napoli is a quality addition. Anyone in the Arlington lineup is interesting to me, especially in the meat of the order.

DeShields has competition in left field, of course. Jurickson Profar, post-hype kid without a true position, is one option. Ryan Rua is another. The Rangers also have to deal with some nicked players, like Adrian Beltre and Carlos Gomez.

DeShields didn’t hit a lick last year (.209/.275/.313), his fantasy value basically nil. Nonetheless, he stole 25 bases in 2015 — over 121 games — and had a respectable .261 average and .344 OBP. He can work the count. Manager Jeff Banister has praised DeShields’s plate discipline this spring. Double D certainly can swipe a base, like his old man could. There’s plausible upside here, which is why we have a discussion, and why we act in many cases.

In most 5×5 leagues, the steals column is the least of my worries. Steals will always emerge from out of thin air, be it from limited players or more broadly-skilled commodities. You can find them on the wire, for the smallest buy-in. DeShields has a first-round pedigree and he’s entering his age-24 season. Maybe he’s ready to give us some fantasy juice.

The bottom of your mixed-league roster should always be fluid. DeShields is a lottery ticket, nothing more. If he clicks in early April, you hang on. If he quickly fizzles or loses time, you cut bait and look for the next interesting addition.

You don’t have to hit for a high average with these types of plays. You just hope one hits, every so often. Or in this case, walks, runs, crosses home plate. Scratch along with us. DeShields is unowned in 92 percent of Yahoo leagues.

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