Delino DeShields and the Baseline BABIP for Speedy Players

Delino DeShields currently has a .395 BABIP en route to a .291 average. A .395 BABIP is probably unsustainable, but I was shocked when I saw the Steamer projection of .287 BABIP for DeShields, going forward. A .287 BABIP for a guy like DeShields is just unreasonable. He’s one of the fastest guys in the league, and his baseline BABIP should be well above .300 as he can turn groundouts into infield singles.

So I decided to crunch some numbers, which ultimately confirmed my suspicions. A BABIP of .286 is too low.  Looking at batted ball data, .315 is what I calculated his expected BABIP to be going forward. I’ll explain below:

DeShields has 13.6% infield hit%.

League average is 6.7%.

DeShields is more than twice as likely to get an infield hit, which is 6.9% more likely than average to get a hit in general. As a side note, he’s also 50% on bunting for hits, which is astounding (also more than twice league average).

Baseline BABIP for groundballs is .232

Add a DeShields speed .069 infield groundball advantage, and therefore you’re looking at a DeShields baseline groundball BABIP of .301.

Line drives are the best — .690 baseline BABIP according the source above. Fly balls have .218 baseline BABIP. Speed shouldn’t have much of an effect on these so I’m not adjusting them, other than accounting for infield fly balls which are guaranteed outs.

I’m going to calculate the expected BABIP for DeShields based on the above data. The expected BABIP will equal the summation of the following:

Flyballs — .218 x .261 (26.1% FB, minus the difference between DeShields IFFB and league average, which is .111 minus .095 = .016; .261-.016=.245) = .05341

Groundballs — .301 x .638 (63.8% GB) = .192038

Line Drives — .690 x .101 (10.1% FB) = .06969


We can take that average and take away his strikeouts/walks to determine his expected batting average/OBP going forward.

22.1% Ks. So we’ll take the baseline BABIP multiplied by .779. = .245 expected batting average.

13.1% BBs. So we’ll take the baseline BABIP multiplied by .648 (Ks and BBs out) = .204. Add back the BBs. = .335 expected OBP.

I haven’t even gotten into directional placement of grounders, so it could be true that DeShields is even better than these projections I just calculated.

Regardless, league averages are .252 average and .314 OBP. DeShields is proving to be roughly a league-average hitter by expected batting average, and clearly above-average hitter if you’re looking at expected OBP.

In other words, DeShields is here to stay.

Law student and fantasy baseball junkie.

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8 years ago

The Texas outfield looks rather crowded, especially after both Beltre and Hamilton return from the DL (manager has already hinted that Gallo may get reps in the OF once Beltre returns). I like DDS. Picked him up in my fantasy league. But I’m not sure of how consistent his PA’s will be starting in late June.

8 years ago

Saw the article title. Looked down. Saw it was you. Hi, fawkesmulder! Hahaha.

8 years ago

All he has to do is hit like Billy Hamilton for 6 months and you’ll change your tune.

Axis of Honor 25
8 years ago

Excellent research. I had my reservations about Delino too considering his success coming straight from Double A ball. But he has a decent walk percentage and you provided a more in depth look at his numbers. Never looked at baseline BABIP like that. Good work.

8 years ago

I’m not sure how you reach the final conclusion. Your expected babip, BA, and OBP are based on him continuing his inputs of GB%, FB%, IFFB%, LD%, Infield Hit%, and BB%, none of which can be considered stable yet. He’s hit fine so far, but the sample size is small enough that we can’t tell much of anything yet. His much larger sample size of his minor league career is checkered, and I don’t think anybody should be 100% sold he’s a starter yet.

8 years ago

Just to clarify, are the expected batting average and strikeout rate are based on plate appearances or at bats?