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Monday, May 19, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: THE PLUMMET OF CARLOS SANTANA

One of the more noteworthy non-injury news items in fantasy baseball Sunday was the announcement by Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona that struggling catcher/third baseman Carlos Santana would be dropped to seventh in the batting order going forward.  The move was not a shock as Santana has been in the running as one of the worst performing regular players in the game with a .152 batting average to go with 5 home runs and 13 RBI.  Very disappointing numbers from a guy the Indians counted on to supply power production from either the third or fourth spot in the order.  In essence outside of a hot 7 days where Santana hit three of his home runs, the converted third baseman has been a complete disaster at the plate and his ridiculous struggles have now moved Santana out of the talk of the better hitting catcher-eligible players in fantasy baseball.  So what went wrong?  How has Santana fallen to such depth?  Let's dig in and try to find out what is going on.

As always with Santana, the strikeouts have to be looked at first since it has been a career-long issue for the guy.  Having struck out as many as 133 times in a season, Santana's propensity for the whiff has been the primary reason for his career .246 batting average.  Well 2014 has been more of the same as Santana's K rate sits at a very ugly 20.4 percent.  If the season ended today, it would represent the highest K rate of his entire career.  Opposing pitchers no doubt have found holes that they continue to exploit and also no doubting is Santana likely pressing at the plate as the average plummets.  Making the strikeout numbers even more glaring is the fact Santana is taking walks, with an 18.8 percent rate on that stat which means he is getting himself out more than most.  No doubt Santana has done his part to get himself where he is today.

Now let's defend Santana a bit.  In looking at anyone this deep into season with a .152 average, you would have to guess some bad luck was in play and when it comes to Santana, he actually is in historic territory there when you look at his BABIP number.  Santana's BABIP is an unbelievable .167 which is one of the lowest numbers I have ever seen for a regular player this late into the season.  When Santana does make contact, it is virtually going on a straight path into opposing fielders' gloves.  A .167 BABIP is completely unsustainable and so Santana will see a very solid rise in his batting average when the luck starts to change there as it inevitably will.  Last season Santana batted .268 with a completely neutral .301 BABIP.  That goes to show you that the .268 is really the kind of hitter Santana is when luck is removed from the numbers.  Of course the K rate would likely have depressed the average a bit more but you get the idea.

When you put it all together, Carlos Santana will be on his way to turning his season around son enough.  The average will come up above .200 before you know it and than any more regression to the mean should get him back to around .250.  The K rate is a problem and anything more than .250 would not be possibly unless Santana makes inroads there.  Overall though I am not the biggest Santana fan due to the average liability.  I know I have said at catcher you an look past bad averages more than at any other position but not .220 or .230.  I would take .260 or higher which is I don't see Santana reaching this season given his hitting profile.  However if someone cut him loose I would absolutely pick him up since there is value to be had.  Very rough start but it should start changing for the better soon enough.

 

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