CYW YNP WTP: Domingo Santana
Death to flying things, Dept. (if they fly 60 feet)


Sorry kiddies.  The last month or so, a bum right arm has kept me off the keyboard.  Better now :- ) and if you get a chance to say "hi" in the comments, I'd be glad to know that you're still around!


Q.  What is Santana's level of performance, exactly?

A.  His slash, exactly, is .281/.351/.497.  For a 133 OPS+ in a pitcher's park, which makes him the 23rd-best hitter in the American League, 5 slots below J.D. Martinez and 5 slots ahead of Nelson Cruz.

Fangraphs sees him as a -5 to -10 runs defensive left fielder, which sounds right to you and me.  In 2016 that pulled him down to +3.3 WAR from the +4.4 he'd have had as an average LF.


Q.  Is he getting lucky?

A.  When I checked the luck stats I almost fell out of my chair.  At .281/.351/.497 he's been getting UNlucky, with a sky-high xWOBA of .374.  In other words, based on launch velo and launch angle off the bat, he should be getting more than the wOBA of .363 that his stats drive.

He had an xWOBA of .369 in 2017 and .359 in 2016.  This dude hits the ball hard -- as you noticed if you were watching the game in the 10th inning last night.  His Edgar-like double down the line, tying the score, sounded like a rifle shot off the bat.  (Santana is #2 in the league with 37 ribbies in 42 games, behind Springer with 38.)

His life BABIP is .359.  Wowza!  and .354 this year.

Per 162 games, he's averaged a .355 OBP (nice nice nice) with 30 doubles and 25 homers per year.  That's counting his developmental years.


Q.  Where'd he come from?  What's his age-arc?  Is he gifted enough to justify this crazy MOTO performance he's getting for 1/3 of a season?

A.  I hadn't noticed, all that much, but Santana has been a good player in the major leagues since he was .... 22.  Bill James' magic number for a great shot at the Hall of Fame.  Of course I'm not accusing Santana of wearing a Roman-leaf crown when he's done, but James studied it and found that if you take the entire pool of Ryne Sandbergs who could compete well at 22 ... you wind up with a very, very elite group of players at age 30.

And Santana hasn't had any down years except last year's "demotion" by the Brew.  Starting at age 22, his OPS+ have been 112, 111, 127, flier year, 132 now.  And this is his "Age 26 with Experience" season.


Q.  How long do the M's have him?

A.  Arb next year, free agent in 2022.  So three years, counting this one, of club control.

Why the Indians would powerflush this player .... maybe they have an aversion to bat-first players, or something.


Q.  Is his defense prohibitive?

A.  Wishhiker makes a powerful argument below, so edit to add:  

Here's Bob Stelton, warning that the Mariners have 4 DH's:  'Bach, Encarnacion, Bruce and Santana.

I'm going to double down on my point a bit:  Let's say you have a player at 3.0 WAR after terrible defense is captured.  If we don't want that, neither should anybody else, right?  So are we saying we've seen our last bad defensive player in the game?  :- )

Or I thought that 3.0 WAR, even 2.0 WAR, was supposed to trump any stylistic oddities in a player's game.  Well, maybe not.  I sure don't want to block Vogelbach with Santana.


There's been a lot of talk about Santana being by far the worst glove in baseball, being historically bad, etc etc, but that's not his track record.  His *worst* season ever was -11 runs before this year.  He's having an adjustment problem in the first half here.


Q.  Does sound like a legit MOTO with major pop in the bat.  Are the M's going to build around him?

A.  Their glamor OF is of course supposed to be Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez and Kyle Lewis.  That would be peachy by me, but (1) Haniger and (2) very few major leaguers hit for a 130 OPS+, brother.  In any given year, there are 25 players in the AL who do that and their names are Carlos Correa.  

You and I will bet 8:1 that a minimum of 1 super-prospect will hit less than 130.  Not that this is the end of the discussion, but just to keep in perspective how well Santana is turning out here.

Can you win your next pennant with this player?  Obviously.  Which leaves us here:  tell Dr. D what we do with Domingo Santana in the mid- and long-term.  :- )



image:  Lookout Landing


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