by Ray Kuhn
Decisions… You are constantly forced to make them in fantasy baseball and the greatest onus is placed on the ones you make on draft day. In a recent draft I had a decision to make about whether or not to select Domingo Santana. Ultimately I passed and he was selected two picks later, which meant I wouldn’t be able to consider him in the next round.
Will I regret not drafting Santana? For these purposes, this is less about the alternatives and more what we think about the Brewers’ right fielder. For the record I could have selected him with the 71st pick of a 12 team draft. Instead I selected Dallas Keuchel (building a strong pitching staff along with Jacob deGrom and Carlos Martinez), and after Santana went off the board I went with Whitt Merrifield for my next turn and followed it up by taking Yoenis Cespedes to be my second outfielder, behind Mike Trout, with the 95th pick of the draft.
Currently Santana’s NFBC ADP is 68 with his earliest selection coming with the 49th pick of the draft. Over at Fantrax Santana has an ADP of 73. The question then is will his 2018 production warrant that draft position?
Based on my decision you can ascertain my thoughts on the subject, which is that it will fall short of his ADP. The next question, is why?
In 2017 it was hard to find fault with Santana’s overall performance. He hit .278 in 525 at bats while hitting 30 HR to go along with 85 RBI and 15 stolen bases. During his minor league career he found himself on top prospect lists so the success shouldn’t have come as a total surprise, and his production does match the skill set.
I’m just not betting on a repeat campaign. He will continue to have the same skill set, and it is possible that he continues to grow as a player to avoid any regression, but there are some underlying metrics that give me a cause for concern.
Despite having a 28% home run to fly ball ratio in 2015 and 2016, I still have a hard time trusting Santana’s 31% rate last season. To me that is unsustainable, and I am expecting to see a decrease. While he could certainly begin hit more fly balls to keep his home run total constant, I think 20-25 HR per season is a more sustainable range. With a 28% fly ball rate in 2017 he will need to increase that number in order to have another 30 HR season. In general, Baseball HQ’s metrics showed that Santana outperformed his true power tools.
You have to like Santana’s 12% walk rate from last season, but his 66% contact rate needs to improve. Santana’s 27% line drive rate is an asset, but the jury is still out on whether he can repeat both that and his 37% hit rate. The overall picture is of a solid major league hitter, and Santana’s outlook will brighten with increased contact.
With average speed at best, the metrics also don’t support another 15 stolen base season. I know that baseball is more than just metrics and performance on the field counts, but these are all things to keep in mind when evaluating Santana for 2018. You have to like his well-balanced skill set along with his strong 2017 season, but I’m counting 22 HR, 10 SB and a .260 batting average in 2018. That has value, just not fifth or sixth round value.
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings: