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The Frustrating Carlos Santana

At this time last year, well actually about a week earlier, we did a series of Bullish/Bearish articles where we each picked one side or the other on a particular player of note.  My Bearish on Carlos Santana piece wasn’t convincing anyone and some even pointed out that perhaps yours truly was just taking one for the team here and picking a side he may not wholeheartedly believe in.  But here we are a little more than a year later and while I still have hope for confidence in another second half surge, I look back on that article and can sympathize with the guy who wrote it.

First off, let’s just clear one thing up.  I never said that I would recommend drafting Miguel Olivo or John Buck ahead of Carlos Santana.  If my words were unclear in the original piece, my apologies. All I was saying was that, at the time, with the stats as they were at that moment, you could have gotten the same production as what Santana gave you, had you drafted one of those two guys in the 21st round.  It was meant to emphasize the general frustration owners were feeling, getting such pedestrian numbers as they had received.  Watching Santana outproduce both, and by a significant margin in some categories, was not a surprise, by any means.

But the frustration Santana owners are having now does not stem from a comparison to inferior backstops who may, at the time, be outproducing him.  It comes from the fact that, while he certainly turned it up finally in the second half of last season, he has not continued down that path of greatness. Rather than pick things up this year where he left off last season, he has regressed to those same pedestrian numbers he produced through the first three months of 2011 and in some cases has even gotten worse.

Here’s a month by month breakdown to compare:

April
PA HR AVG OBP K% BB% ISO BABIP
2011 86 5 .198 .327 19.2% 16.3% .198 .194
2012 84 3 .262 .417 21.4% 21.4% .185 .311

 

LD% GB% FB%
2011 7.5% 55.2% 37.3%
2012 31.3% 41.7% 27.1%

 

May
PA HR AVG OBP K% BB% ISO BABIP
2011 76 1 .263 .392 14.4% 18.6% .132 .297
2012 105 2 .233 .314 19.0% 11.4% .111 .268

 

LD% GB% FB%
2011 20.0% 47.7% 32.3%
2012 13.7% 42.5% 43.8%

 

June
PA HR AVG OBP K% BB% ISO BABIP
2011 95 5 .221 .353 23.3% 16.4% .211 .250
2012 70 0 .190 .314 22.9% 15.7% .069 .256

 

LD% GB% FB%
2011 17.4% 39.1% 43.5%
2012 23.3% 51.2% 25.6%

 

Sure, there are a few places where you can say he improved, i.e. his month of April was, for the most part, better in 2012 than it was in 2011.  But overall, it’s very easy to see that, not only has he declined each month here in 2012, but his numbers are markedly worse this season than they were last.  His power isn’t there, his walks aren’t there and he’s mashing more balls in the dirt than a…well you can finish the metaphor in your head.  Needless to say though, it’s not good.  I mean, a 2.00 GB/FB for June this year?  Really?

Now again, we saw the poor start last year and those that were patient were rewarded with an outstanding second half. But what assurances do we have that we will witness the same pattern this year?  Because he did it last year, we should just assume?  Because his xBABIP is roughly 58 points higher than his current BABIP?  Is that enough for you to believe?  To endure these disappointing numbers from a guy whose ADP was 37.00?  To not pull your hair out every time you see an 0-for-4 next to his name on your live scoring page?

Is this going to turn into one of those situations like with Mark Teixeira where you have to endure two months of a .204 batting average in order to reap the benefits of a 30-plus home run season by year end?  As a fantasy owner, having to wait on a player to come around, especially a player you’ve obviously invested so much in, can be a nightmare.  You’re getting barely passable numbers and watching your batting average, and in this case even OBP this season, get dragged down to a level that ultimately becomes pretty difficult to pick back up.

Even worse is the obvious inability to trade such a player.  It’s not that you can’t trade him, but that if you do, you’re taking a huge loss unless you’ve got either the biggest Santana fan or the biggest bonehead in the world as a trade partner.  You can’t even trade him as a keeper right now.  We’re at that point in season where, in keeper leagues, the teams in contention are dumping top players for package deals to help solidify their teams.  You’re seeing 2-for-1, 3-for-1 and sometimes even 4-for-1 deals being made for next year’s protects and it’s nearly impossible to even remotely include Santana in one of those deals.  I mean, who is going to give you full value for him right now?  What’s your selling point?  He turned it around last year?  That simply doesn’t cut it, especially when he’s looked worse this year as the season has progressed. Atleast last year there were different improvements from one month to the next.

Again, I’m not saying give up on him.  I’m not saying to trade him.  You’ve endured this much up to this point and if you truly believe in the player, then all you can do is hope that improvement is coming soon.  If it does, then great.  Atleast you’ve now got a track record and know what you’re getting into each year that you draft/protect him.  If it doesn’t, well then you have another dilemma to pore over next year.  Do you give him another shot or do you just wash your hands and hope that whomever gets him next year doesn’t end up with the Santana you thought you were getting this time around.