(Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)
Everyone goes into fantasy drafts expecting the best case scenario. When it comes to planning for stolen bases it’s typically most popular to either plan on taking a lot of 10-20 stolen base players (Francisco Lindor, Alex Bregman, Christian Yelich types) or to take one BIG stolen base guy (Billy Hamilton, Dee Gordon, or Trea Turner). When neither of those work out then the plan becomes punting stolen bases entirely. To avoid leaving ourselves scrambling mid-draft let’s get familiar with a few late round SB options that are worth knowing in case you miss out on the early options.
Delino Deshields (OF, Texas Rangers) – Deshields has always been just short of establishing himself as a full-time starter since his rookie season in 2015. Averaging 32 stolen bases per 162 games over the course of the career, the challenge has been getting to 162 games. 2018 looks to be the year things change for Deshields. What they lack this year for the first time is another serious option at CF. The starters Nomar Mazara, Shin-Soo Choo, and Willie Calhoun are all limited to the corners or DH and pose no threat to playing time. The only other challengers in CF are Jurickson Profar and Carlos Tocci (recent Rule 5 draft acquisition). While I’m sure the Rangers would be thrilled to see Profar or Tocci earn playing time, neither is a particularly threatening bench piece.
When Delino Deshields plays he has most frequently batted leadoff. Having Adrian Beltre, Nomar Mazara, and Joey Gallo behind him will be excellent for run-scoring opportunities. And indeed it has been in the past as in 2017 when batting leadoff he scored 63 runs over 80 games played; that’s a 128 run pace over a full season. Now I’m not saying we should expect that kind of production, but it does at least show evidence that 90+ runs are certainly possible. What the Rangers have liked about Deshields is his OBP is often in the .345 range when healthy. Getting that OBP and his speed at the front of the lineup is exactly what teams want to do.
Deshields has an ADP just over 200. What that means is if you miss out on some of the early SB options and are panicking, maybe save an OF spot open for Delino and you can likely pencil in 30+ stolen bases.
Bradley Zimmer (OF, Cleveland Indians) – Bradley Zimmer is a tough one to fully buy into. He started his first couple months hitting the ball very hard but then faded away to nothing in August and September. His strikeout rates exceeded 35% over the final two months but September was nearly completely lost between a head injury and a broken hand that ended his season. But that still leaves August where he was just about entirely useless. His minor league history does suggest he will have a higher strikeout rate and be limited to a .250 level hitter. On the other hand, his speed score is excellent and he truly has 40+ stolen base potential. While he’s hitting a lot of groundballs (47.9%) he does have a strong enough hard-hit rate that you could see him eventually become a 15-20 home run threat down the road. For now, we are still left with his question-marks.
With an ADP around 170, you can stomach the risks for the upside he offers. If you take safer bats early in the draft it might be worth adding Zimmer late.
Cameron Maybin (OF, Miami Marlins) – Freshly signed by the Marlins, Cameron Maybin should have full playing time in the Miami outfield. The only other true outfielder on the roster at the moment is rookie Lewis Brinson. The danger here is that Maybin has been incredibly inconsistent over his career. His batting average has ranged from .220 to up to over .300. xStats suggests that his true talent batting average is somewhere between .245 to .270. He has also battled injuries over the course of his career, but for a back of the draft option those are the types of questions you could expect. In Miami I would not expect much power, but the speed should be there. Given the lack of impact bats left in Miami, it is possible Maybin eventually sticks at the top of the Marlin’s lineup, providing a lot more consistent playing time than he has provided in the past with the Angels or Tigers. If you do get stuck without a top end speed player in your draft, consider Maybin as a reserve pick. Full playing time and 30 SB potential when healthy is all you can ask.
It is worth noting that all these late round options are outfielders. Jose Peraza is one of the few infield options late in drafts. For the most part, if you want speed in your infield you are going to have to pay for it earlier in drafts. Eduardo Nunez, Ozzie Albies, Whit Merrifield, and Elvis Andrus are the main players you’d be looking at other names I mentioned above.