Domingo Santana… Remember him? It feels like a lifetime ago that he was bursting onto the scene, but in fact he’s just two years removed from hitting .278 with 30 HR for the Brewers (over 607 PA in 2017). Now in Cleveland, after somewhat rebounding in Seattle, Santana is in position to emerge as an intriguing sleeper. At least that’s what some want to believe, given his past success and current situation. Outside of Oscar Mercado there is a group of similar outfield options, any of whom can step up and claim consistent AB in the outfield or at DH:
- Franmil Reyes
- Domingo Santana
- Greg Allen
- Delino Deshields Jr.
- Jordan Luplow
- Jake Bauers
It would be easy to pencil Reyes in regularly, but that still leaves two spots for the taking. Why not Santana? Why couldn’t he emerge as a must use option once again?
The simple answer is the inability to make consistent contact. While he does own a career .259 AVG, there are a lot of holes in the number. The owner of a career 32.0% strikeout rate, his 14.0% SwStr% last season is obviously concerning and his struggles came against all types of pitches (Whiff%):
- Hard – 10.56%
- Breaking – 21.06%
- Offspeed – 20.22%
It makes sense that he saw fewer fastballs last season, and considering he hit .250 against changeups, .232 against sliders and .136 against curveballs it’s a trend that should continue. Fewer fastballs could mean even more strikeouts, and that simply would bring unacceptable results.
Then you have the question regarding his BABIP, with a career .357 mark. Santana does profile with the ability to carry an above average number, thanks to his impressive Hard% (42.9% in ’19), as well as a willingness to use the entire field (26.0% Oppo%) and not taking a flyball-centric approach (30.8% flyball rate). Even with those marks, what if his BABIP dropped to a more believable .330 (as it is, he was 12th among qualified hitters last season)? What if it’s even lower? With the strikeout risk the numbers could get ugly.
Sure there’s power, but the risk of a poor average coupled with the potential loss of playing time looms large. As a roll of the dice in the last few rounds of your draft it makes sense, because there is obvious upside, but don’t select him expecting a must start option.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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