CYW YNP WTP: Domingo Santana
Death to flying things, Dept. (if they fly 60 feet)


Sorry kiddies.  The last month or so, a bum right arm has kept me off the keyboard.  Better now :- ) and if you get a chance to say "hi" in the comments, I'd be glad to know that you're still around!


Q.  What is Santana's level of performance, exactly?

A.  His slash, exactly, is .281/.351/.497.  For a 133 OPS+ in a pitcher's park, which makes him the 23rd-best hitter in the American League, 5 slots below J.D. Martinez and 5 slots ahead of Nelson Cruz.

Fangraphs sees him as a -5 to -10 runs defensive left fielder, which sounds right to you and me.  In 2016 that pulled him down to +3.3 WAR from the +4.4 he'd have had as an average LF.


Q.  Is he getting lucky?

A.  When I checked the luck stats I almost fell out of my chair.  At .281/.351/.497 he's been getting UNlucky, with a sky-high xWOBA of .374.  In other words, based on launch velo and launch angle off the bat, he should be getting more than the wOBA of .363 that his stats drive.

He had an xWOBA of .369 in 2017 and .359 in 2016.  This dude hits the ball hard -- as you noticed if you were watching the game in the 10th inning last night.  His Edgar-like double down the line, tying the score, sounded like a rifle shot off the bat.  (Santana is #2 in the league with 37 ribbies in 42 games, behind Springer with 38.)

His life BABIP is .359.  Wowza!  and .354 this year.

Per 162 games, he's averaged a .355 OBP (nice nice nice) with 30 doubles and 25 homers per year.  That's counting his developmental years.


Q.  Where'd he come from?  What's his age-arc?  Is he gifted enough to justify this crazy MOTO performance he's getting for 1/3 of a season?

A.  I hadn't noticed, all that much, but Santana has been a good player in the major leagues since he was .... 22.  Bill James' magic number for a great shot at the Hall of Fame.  Of course I'm not accusing Santana of wearing a Roman-leaf crown when he's done, but James studied it and found that if you take the entire pool of Ryne Sandbergs who could compete well at 22 ... you wind up with a very, very elite group of players at age 30.

And Santana hasn't had any down years except last year's "demotion" by the Brew.  Starting at age 22, his OPS+ have been 112, 111, 127, flier year, 132 now.  And this is his "Age 26 with Experience" season.


Q.  How long do the M's have him?

A.  Arb next year, free agent in 2022.  So three years, counting this one, of club control.

Why the Indians would powerflush this player .... maybe they have an aversion to bat-first players, or something.


Q.  Is his defense prohibitive?

A.  Wishhiker makes a powerful argument below, so edit to add:  

Here's Bob Stelton, warning that the Mariners have 4 DH's:  'Bach, Encarnacion, Bruce and Santana.

I'm going to double down on my point a bit:  Let's say you have a player at 3.0 WAR after terrible defense is captured.  If we don't want that, neither should anybody else, right?  So are we saying we've seen our last bad defensive player in the game?  :- )

Or I thought that 3.0 WAR, even 2.0 WAR, was supposed to trump any stylistic oddities in a player's game.  Well, maybe not.  I sure don't want to block Vogelbach with Santana.


There's been a lot of talk about Santana being by far the worst glove in baseball, being historically bad, etc etc, but that's not his track record.  His *worst* season ever was -11 runs before this year.  He's having an adjustment problem in the first half here.


Q.  Does sound like a legit MOTO with major pop in the bat.  Are the M's going to build around him?

A.  Their glamor OF is of course supposed to be Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez and Kyle Lewis.  That would be peachy by me, but (1) Haniger and (2) very few major leaguers hit for a 130 OPS+, brother.  In any given year, there are 25 players in the AL who do that and their names are Carlos Correa.  

You and I will bet 8:1 that a minimum of 1 super-prospect will hit less than 130.  Not that this is the end of the discussion, but just to keep in perspective how well Santana is turning out here.

Can you win your next pennant with this player?  Obviously.  Which leaves us here:  tell Dr. D what we do with Domingo Santana in the mid- and long-term.  :- )



image:  Lookout Landing




His often horrible reads and routes on the slack since the March 20th series in Japan.   Consensus is at least mostly that if he can't clean it up maybe he'd be better for DH or 1b mainly.  Apparently lack of focus in the failed also makes a 1b transition questionable, but a 26 year old hitting like Nelson Cruz sounds DH worthy anyway.  Hopefully they can work him into being Ibanez in the field at least.  'Bach is my main DH, although he's a better first baseman defensively than Santana is as an outfielder.

Evan White can maybe move to second, err, Shed long to third then?  We are going to need some arms anyway.  Some outfielders (as well as every other position under Dipoto) will likely be traded away in coming months or before the next pennant at least.

For now let's enjoy the presents Santa' does bring


Yes, that's what I'd guessed had been the community take on Santana as a player, that his defense is prohibitive.

But is it really prohibitive?  Left field is the place for bat-first sluggers.  And as we noted, the cumulative effect seems to be to pull his WAR from 4.0, 4.5 down to 3.0, 3.5 after baking his defense in.

3.0, 3.5 WAR from a bat-first player, good teams do dat, right?


Here's Bob Stelton, warning that the Mariners have 4 DH's:  'Bach, Encarnacion, Bruce and Santana.

I'm going to double down on my point a bit:  Let's say you have a player at 3.0 WAR after terrible defense is captured.  If we don't want that, neither should anybody else, right?  So are we saying we've seen our last bad defensive player in the game?  :- )


Can afford it better than the roster a week ago and longer.  Beckham at SS, Healy at 3b and Santana in LF was helping destroy their ability to keep from giving up 10 runs in a game frequently.   Once Seager's back and with Crawford now at SS he does fit better as bat-first.  But if you can train him into a decent defender at 1b or LF for that matter he's even better.

Vogelbach is also basically a DH but E3 and him have been fine at 1b.


It's one thing to have a single bat-first player.  It's another matter to have four of them.  +2

The '95* Indians had Thome at 3rd, Manny, etc, but Omar and a few others provided the compensation.  You'd better have a Gold Glove and an excellent glove, minimum, for each butcher in the field.


Should Brennan be our closer? His bendy stuff is unhittable, but hard to control and thus catch. Reminds me of Rodney. Thank goodness Narvaez was able to stop that one that keep Grossman on 3rd last night. 


Thanks again for the well wishing amigos.

My final DL trip is NOT on the agenda.  But, unfortunately, my stints are getting to 2-3 weeks at a crack and people get to fearing the worst.  Want to assure you that if such ever occurred, Cindy would come onsite and let you know.  If you haven't heard from her, I'm going to be back shortly.

But I feel great right now.  Thanks for hanging on!  :- )



Anonymous's picture

Great to see you back, Doc. There and and back again, heh.

Superb to read the "final DL trip" is not on the agenda.

Good to be reassured that Cindy would advise us if that changed. 

Glad you're feeling great. 

With the M's engineering what is seemingly another "pull the rug out from under our fan base" season, I've sorta put them on the shelf. I watched as many of their games as the time zone difference allowed until it became clear that the predictable coming-back-down-to-earth was taking the form of an Apollo re-entry with a failed parachute deployment.

It's funny how I was prepared for a watch-the-next-generation-develop season, but not for a team that streaked to an improbable apogee (the farthest reaches of planetary orbit) only to redefine perigee (the nearest proximity to the orbited planet) as somewhere in the inner core of the Earth.  

Also had my own ongoing medical saga (but not as serious as yours).


tjm's picture

. . . played 82 games in left field for the 61 Yankees. John Blanchard, their third string catcher, played 15 games in the outfield and he was even slower than Yogi. And Hector Lopez, nominally a second baseman with no arm, made over 70 OF starts, none of which were pretty.

Point being Santana has physical tools to be at least average. He clearly has issues, but there sure seems to be a path to better play.

And, yes, Bruce or Encanarcion - or both - will have to be moved.


Many of them must have had handfuls of plodders on defense.  Want to hear something interesting?  The 2005 Yankee team, held up as the most catastrophic defense ever fielded, won ... wait for it ... 95 games.

Convincing example with the 50s Yankees' catcher situation.  And relieved to see you're still here TJM :- )

tjm's picture

M's suckered me in with that start, but I'm at least as dissatisfied as I was over the off season. Once they had booked that 13-2 start despite having a bullpen made up of a dozen human flames, I thought you have to accept the luck, put the wins in the bank and sign Kimbrel. Instead, DiPo was too vain, too in love with his plan to accept what the universe had so graciously given him. You eventually get punished for that sort of hubris. Ask Achilles or George Custer.


Yanks, with more wounded soldiers than R.E. Lee's army after Gettysburg, just traded for Kendrys Morales, for goodess sake.  He's sporting a 61 OPS, in case you haven't checked him out this season.

Might we have been able to send EE that way for something nice and young?  I bet we could have.  But THAT begs the question of whether we still harbor Wild Card dreams.  I bet we do.

However, even if we swap out EE, then we don't really have the OF guy to force a Santana move out of LF.  Surely not Bruce, when Smith returns.

And that all appears to be the case next season; we don't have anybody knocking down the door to move into the M's OF, unless it is Thompson-Williams (.917 in AA), Fraley (.875 in the same place) or Kelenic (and I'm not really kidding, only just a bit: .966 and killing A-Ball.  I would send him to AA, fairly pronto.  I think I would skip the Cali-League stop).

Surely there is no indication that Shed Long should get a bunch of LF starts.

So Santana is probably in LF again next season.  I'm just ducky with that, BTW.  He's WAY better as a COF than, say, a Reggie Jackson was.  If Santana lives at 130 OPS Street, then he's sort of at the bottom of Reggie Jackson years.  Nobody was suggeting making Jackson a 1B.

Speaking of 1B; Healy moves to 1B, maybe, when Seager gets well.  If that's the case, then EE has to be moved to another team at/by that time.  Or, perhaps, you demote Healy. 

Finally, you have a collision at 2B:  Beckham vs. Gordon.   Who are you betting on there?

Jay Bruce is 82nd in the MLB with a 90.6 Average Exit Velocity (Vogelbach is 153rd at 89.2)  Bruce has a 10.7% Barrel rate, 42nd best.  (Vogelbach is 7.1%/96th:  I would have bet Vogs had both the higher figures).  Despite all that, Bruce is sort of untradable now, don't you think? 

As I see it, the front office has to decide if we are really a WC contender and once they decide we are likely not, then they have to figure out how to trade EE and Gordon.  I think they already like the idea of Shed Long in the Zobrist-lite role, which means Beckham needs a position, thereby making Gordon extraneous.

Doc, Godspeed.


Would the Yankees go for Morales?  When they obviously coulda come calling here for a suit-rack of hitters who can actually help.

Yep, Bruce is the guy you wonder about.  His unsightly AVG and weird defense makes HIM a real example of prohibitive defense.  Still and all he averages 31 HR and 94 RBI for his career, projects to 40-100 this year over 600 AB, and I've never heard of a 35 homer man who couldn't find a job SOMEwhere.  Maybe in a 2nd-division club.

In one day I was getting worried aboutcha Moe.  :- )  Thrilled to see you.

Hanjag's picture

I really enjoy your analytics, insight, and style. This is my favorite place to read about my team. Thanks for that.

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