by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Current ADP – 28.5
We all know that speed is at a premium, with only six players being projected to steal at least 35 bases in the Rotoprofessor 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide (click here for ordering information). Trea Turner and Jose Altuve currently carry a first round ADP and are among the elite in the game. We all know that Billy Hamilton is going to be among the best stolen base threats in the league, though you can argue that he’s a one-trick pony. Jonathan Villar and Starling Marte are intriguing options, but do carry their own risks.
Then there’s Dee Gordon, who currently is being selected in the middle of the third round after being traded to Seattle this offseason (and primed to move to the outfield). That’s ahead of all of the other “speed” options, aside from the two obvious choices, but does he really deserve this type of ADP? Should he be selected around 30 picks ahead of Hamilton (current ADP of 61.9)?
Hamilton is perceived to be the stud stolen base threat in the league, though Gordon has stolen 58+ bases in three of the past four seasons. The season he fell short was the one he was limited to 79 games due to suspension and he has consistently shown all he needs is plate appearances to steal a significant number of bases:
- 2014 – 1 SB every 10.2 PA
- 2015 – 1 SB every 11.3 PA
- 2016 – 1 SB every 11.5 PA
- 2017 – 1 SB every 11.6 PA
Last season Hamilton was at a stolen base every 10.7 PA, though he had been even better in previous years (in 2016 he was at a stolen base every 7.9 PA). Either way it’s obvious the potential Gordon brings, and as long as he’s playing every day a 55+ SB season is likely. Over the past five years there have been 9 instances of 55+ in a season, with Gordon & Hamilton claiming seven of them.
Like Hamilton, Gordon also offers little-to-no power. He also doesn’t offer the best plate discipline, though he owns a career .293 average. He doesn’t draw many walks (4.5% for his career) and while he has the speed to carry an elevated BABIP, given these numbers if there’s no “luck” he could struggle in his AVG:
- SwStr% – 6.9%
- O-Swing% – 36.6%
Obviously he doesn’t swing and miss a lot, but he chases outside the zone and that could lead to weak contact. He does take a groundball approach (57.6% in ’17, 58.4% for his career), and that’s exactly what we want to see. Even if he struggles and fails to hit .300, the lack of strikeouts coupled with the other skills/numbers should lock him into a .285 mark (or better).
Throw in the ability to score ample runs, especially with the impressive Seattle lineup behind him, and we have the potential for a three-category contributor. Is this a little bit of a reach, for the advantage of a better average and a few more runs scored over Hamilton? While we do prefer Gordon a third round selection is a premium pick. By selecting him there you are bypassing players like Rhys Hoskins, Alex Bregman, Andrew Benintendi and George Springer (among others). That’s a tough sell, just to ensure getting stolen bases.
Do we want to own Gordon? Absolutely, but given the current ADP we’d rather wait for Hamilton 2-3 rounds later.
Source – Fangraphs
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