by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It was a surprise when the Phillies inked Carlos Santana, given the presence of Rhys Hoskins and a deep, talented group of young outfielders. That said what’s done is done, and what we are left with is an intriguing first base option who could be looking at a career year.
There’s certainly a lot of intrigue, as Santana was already a solid option moving to a better environment for success. Let’s take a look at what to expect:
Santana has never posted a strong average, as a career .249 hitter. That has come despite a strong approach at the plate:
- O-Swing% – 7.3%
- SwStr% – 21.7%
Over the past two seasons that’s led to strikeout rates of 14.4% and 14.1%, the problem is that his career BABIP is .270 based on an 18.4% line drive rate and 13.6% popup rate. Those two numbers are never going to allow him to carry an elevated mark and will generally limit his upside. There is room for improvement, though, and even a “lucky” .290 BABIP would go a long way.
Interestingly he actually hit .281 on the road last season and has been slightly better overall there over the course of his career (.251). It gets even more intriguing when we look at his power…
He’s hit as many as 34 HR in a season, and now moves to a much more homer friendly ballpark:
- Progressive Field – 2.28 HR/game
- Citizens Bank Park – 2.85 HR/game
Generally a 20-24 HR threat, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him reach the 30 HR plateau. The extra home runs only adds to the potential upside in his average (since it bypasses the BABIP issue).
A big OBP producer (.365 for his career), the Indians have often used Santana atop the batting order. That shouldn’t be the case in Philadelphia, though joining Hoskins and others in the middle of the lineup should allow him to continue scoring 85+ runs. Even better will be the upside in his RBI, with an 85/85 season or better likely in the cards.
So we are looking at a potentially improved average (.260+), a surge in power and ample counting stats… What exactly is there not to like? While he’s not going to crack the elite tier of first base options, the value is there and he’s certainly a player to target in the 7-12 range. Maybe the move was a surprise, but the upside and potential value of obvious.
Sources – Fangraphs, ESPN
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections: