Incidentally, this is Best Bet time of year isn't it? I've got one for you guys. Domingo. I don't know why it took me this long to realize I should do this, but here we are. I see absolutely no evidence to disuade me from the thought that Domingo is going to be a minor star for the Mariners this year. Let's call it >2.5 WAR this year, next year, every year. 90% confidence. Does that meet the definition of a Best Bet? Doc? Anyone?
Wow. 90% coefficient of confidence on a string of 3-WAR seasons, that's a very high bid indeed. It would normally be plenty to land you a home run call if it occurred except for one thing: during the first game in Japan, everybody on Slack seemed to think the same thing, except me :- )
... who merely abstained. I haven't seen Santana except for one game. As Dr. D withers into "decrepit old man" territory he trusts his eye more than his Shandler and James. Gimme a week, what say :- )
Q. Is Santana's defense going to cost him 1-2 WAR per year?
A. I'd bet long against it.
Colin O'Keefe quotes Jerry Dipoto thusly:
“And ‘pretty good athlete’ is an understatement. He’s 6'5, 230 and I think I’ve mentioned this before — per Statcast data, our fastest player is Dee Gordon. Our second-fastest player by a hair, in back of Dee Gordon, is Mallex Smith. And our third-fastest player is Domingo Santana — in terms of how much ground they cover.
It’s a satellite measurement, I believe the data is correct…[It’s for] those that have had big league reps. Domingo Santana can really cover ground, he eats it up with long strides. In that 30+ homer season he threw up for the Brewers in ’17, he also stole 15 bases. This is a big man with real power and the ability to do some things athletically that are different.”
I realize it's possible for a man with blazing-fast speed to play LF with such horrific instincts that he's below average there, but I'll take your money if you want to bet that way. UZR has Santana at -10 runs per year or so thus far, but John Dewan has him plus. I'll bet that in 2019 Santana turns up at least middling when you amalgamate the numbers on him, esp. the M's numbers.
Why? Again, left field isn't rocket science, and Mallex Smith speed does make up for a slow first step, enough to cancel you into "mediocre." What's to cause minus 10 runs?!
Q. Is there anything wrong with his swing path?
A. HQ makes a big deal about his GB rate zapping his HR totals. True, if there were something that made me a little skittish it might be this, since his GB/FB is 1.7 lifetime (1.1 average).
On the other hand, a guy hitting 25 HR's a year -- Santana's average already -- with a high grounder rate is a topspin hitter. That's a T-Mobile hitter, a Raul Ibanez antecedent who safely banks an extra +10 OPS in the home park (because the topspin defeats the hot-air popcorn swirler).
More importantly, you have this from O'Keefe's quotes via Dipoto:
One of the early lessons I was taught in scouting is, we’ve got the little stop watch, and we time runners running to first base to try to get an estimate of their foot speed. It’s not always perfect, but it’s an estimate of their foot speed. If a runner gets to first base in 4.2 seconds, he’s roughly an average to an above-type runner. 4.0, you’re movin’.
And, similarly, when hitters hit the ball up in the air, if you hit your stopwatch and time it, if the ball stays up in the air for six or seven seconds, that’s 80 power. You can’t not have gigantic power and hit balls that stay in the air that long.”
Go back and look at O'Keefe's article and there are several .gifs of Santana hitting moonballs with 7-sec hang time - to center field.
Possible, maybe probable, that Santana's GB rate will smooth out towards 1.1, creating a major threat to the 40-homer club (his PX is consistently 145). But even if it doesn't it will have him banking extra singles and doubles in T-Mobile.
Q. Why would the Brew trade him?
A. A starting 3 in the OF, and the desire for a man (Gamel) with 4th outfielder makeup, we s'pose.
If Santana IS a minor star, or even a star without qualification, he's got 4 years of club control left. Would be a nice LF and RF locked in, but you'll have quite a pleasant problem with the next OF wave hitting the shore :- )
Q. Leaving us where?
A. At age 22 Santana was a good big league player (he had short AB's but then he confirmed himself at 23 and 24). James says that any player who is solid to BTA at that age is automatically on watch list not to be a good player, but on watch for the Hall of Fame. (I think he says that almost 1/3 of good ML players, age 22, are elected twenty years later.)
At 24 Santana was a legitimate star, with 6.54 runs per 27 outs, and then you ran into last season's weirdness where the Brewers apparently objected to something, perhaps his defense. But 6.54 runs per 27, man, that's a big time 1B or DH ...
Sherm bids "90% chance at >2.5 WAR year after year. M's 2nd-best player." Pretty early in the year, too. Anybody wanna compete with that?