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Friday, January 24, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: CARLOS SANTANA CATCHER/1B/3B CLEVELAND INDIANS

                                                                    Carlos Santana           

A big bit of news that may have fallen under the radar last week was the revelation by Cleveland Indians catcher/1B Carlos Santana that he would be moving to third base for the 2014 season.  With the Indians wanting to keep catcher Yan Gomes' bat in the lineup and get Santana and his terrible defense from behind the plate, the plan was out into place with an eye towards Opening Day.  The big news there for potential Santana fantasy baseball owners is the fact that he continues to retain catcher eligibility for at least one more season to go with first base, while also adding the hot corner which will give him unheard of versatility for a guy known for donning the tools of ignorance.  So with all that said let's take a closer look at Santana and what he could provide those same owners this season in fantasy baseball.
Turning 28-years-old in 2014, Santana is into his prime hitting years which means we are likely done talking about any untapped ceiling or the potential for more numbers on the way.  That can be looked at as a bit of a disappointment after all the hype Santana had coming up from the minors as a top hitting catching prospect.  Be that as it may Santana is still a top notch hitting catcher who is a top five option once again in fantasy baseball terms.  The power is the calling card for Santana as he has hit 27, 18, and 20 home runs the last three seasons with RBI totals of 79, 76, and 64 respectively.  Santana has been very consistent on both fronts and he should be right in the realm of 25 home runs and 75 RBI once again this season.  In addition Santana's duties at first base, DH, and now 3B make him one of the rare catching-eligible players who is in the lineup almost every game which does wonders for his counting stats.  That has allowed Santana to post three consecutive seasons of 70-plus runs which he should once again reach in 2014. 

Now let's get to the negatives which really only concern Santana's batting average.  Santana is a career .254 hitter which is obviously not a good number by any means and the main problem is a sky high K rate that shows no signs of getting any better.  Three straight seasons now Santana has struck out over 100 times and hitting .260 is the smart prediction based on that level of strikeout rate.  Heck we will sign for the .268 he hit last season in a second.  It is amazing how different a player looks when they are hitting .239 like Santana did in 2011 or the .268 from last season.  The latter is where we want to aim for and it is entirely possibly if Santana can even make a small improvement in his K rate.

When you add everything together, Carlos Santana once again is a top five catching option whose three position eligibility is very valuable.  This is a proven commodity who will play everyday and keep you from having to look for replacements on the days a catcher typically misses with having to rest.  However with Gomes now a clear part of the present and future, we could be looking at the last season of Santana behind the plate which is a bummer since he carries his most value there.  Overall though if you want to grab a catcher early, Santana is a very safe place to look.

2014 PROJECTION:  .263 26 HR 78 RBI 77 R 4 SB

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