by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There were high expectations for Domingo Santana entering the season, coming off a 30 HR/15 SB campaign. Unfortunately he’s struggled all year long, hitting .255 with 3 HR and 1 SB, though he now has 2 HR over his past five games so some will be quick to jump back on the bandwagon. Has he truly figured something out? Should we still be believing?
In 16 games in May it would appear like we should be all in on a rebound, hitting .288 with 3 HR. Of course when you start digging in beyond the surface numbers the concerns start to mount:
Despite the “surge”, he’s been putting the ball on the ground far too much (54.5% groundball rate) and that has led to him needing an unrealistic 42.9% HR/FB to generate the power. That’s been the story of the season for Santana, as he owns an overall 54.9% mark. Until he starts showing a change in the batted ball profile (23.7% fly ball rate) it’s going to be impossible to expect him to suddenly start producing power numbers consistently.
Santana has seen his SwStr% (13.7% in ’17 to 14.9% in ’18) and O-Swing% (26.5% to 30.0%) rise, leading to more strikeouts (30.5%) and fewer walks (9.8%). The thing is that he’s actually seeing more hard pitches (64.72% thus far in ’18), and maybe that’s making the offspeed (29.58% Whiff%) and breaking balls (21.09%) play up more but it’s concerning.
If Santana isn’t able to produce, despite a steady diet of fastballs, what would make us think a turn around is coming? Last year he hit .278 with a .525 SLG against fourseam fastballs, this year he’s at .256/.372. It just adds to the questions/concerns.
Sure he can run, but if he’s not getting on base how many stolen bases will he really be able to get?
You can argue that the Brewers should just run Santana out there every day and give him a chance to figure it out, and with both Eric Thames and Ryan Braun on the DL he’s getting afforded that opportunity. However what’s going to happen when everyone is healthy? You know Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain are going to be in the lineup and Jesus Aguilar is performing and earning more AB. If Santana can’t turn the corner, and soon, as soon as one of Thames/Braun returns the playing time could quickly start to disappear. Given what he’s been doing, is there reason to believe?
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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