Batter’s Box: Carlos Santana Doesn’t Look So Carlost Anymore

Carlos Santana hasn’t really been what I hoped he’d be this year. I thought last year’s 34 home runs had signified a change that could carry on into this year,...

Carlos Santana hasn’t really been what I hoped he’d be this year. I thought last year’s 34 home runs had signified a change that could carry on into this year, but it hasn’t translated as well. At least, it hasn’t to this point, but Santana has looked like a different person over the past month. From the beginning of the season through 6/24, Santana was slashing .221/.328/.382, and it was terrible. Known as an OBP stud, he wasn’t even getting that done. He had no average, no power, nothing. Since then, he’s slashed .319/.388/.583, continuing that on Monday by going 2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, and he’s looked totally different. So what changed? It’s a pretty stark change when you look at the batted ball stats. For that first part of the season, his hard hit rate was 32.1% and his HR/FB rate was 10.2%, all numbers that are pretty low for someone like Santana. In fact, the last time his numbers looked like that was 2015 when he had a horribly disappointing year batting .231 with just 19 home runs, and you can be forgiven for being afraid that this year would be 2015 all over again. But since 6/25, his hard hit rate has shot up to 44.6% and his HR/FB rate has jumped up to 17.6%. He’s hitting the ball better, whether that’s just him breaking out of a slump or a change to his approach, I’m not 100% sure, but it’s working. I don’t think he’s a .300 hitter or anything, but I think he could bat in the .250s the rest of the way and end the year with 25 home runs. Maybe we won’t see 2016’s home run total all over again, but I think he could have similar numbers with probably 10 fewer home runs.

Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Monday’s games:

Manny Machado (SS/3B, BAL) – 1-4, 2 RBI, 1 SB. What’s wrong with Manny Machado is a question I’ve heard quite a bit (especially being that I’m a Marylander and Orioles fan). After having a ridiculous year last year and being drafted as a top-five overall player, Machado’s season this year has been pretty disappointing. The power has still been there, as he’s got 18 home runs already and is on pace for around 30 home runs, but the .238 average has been really bad. The big problem has been his BABIP, which sits at .253 right now, and that, along with an increase in ground balls, has hurt him. But there’s reason for optimism, as his hard hit rate sits at a career-high 40.7%, which should help his HR/FB rate, which has dropped, to correct itself. I still believe he can hit in the .270s the rest of the way and end the year with 30 home runs. Not the top-five player we all hoped he’d be, but still a very good one.

Josh Reddick (OF, HOU) – 3-4, 1 R, 2 RBI. I’ve talked about Reddick a lot, and the fact that he’s still available in around 41% of ESPN leagues is kind of insane to me. The guy has been solid all year long and should continue to be. He’s been especially good over the past month, slashing .342/.357/.487. I think he could end the year with around 15-18 home runs, 10 steals, while batting in the .270s/.280s the rest of the way. That’s a really useful player who can really balance out your team.

Josh Donaldson (3B, TOR) – 1-3, 1 R. Along with “what’s wrong with Manny Machado,” I’ve heard a lot of “what’s wrong with Josh Donaldson?” He’s been batting .179 over the past month and has looked totally lost. The stats don’t suggest he’s going to get better either. His BABIP is a perfectly normal .292, but when you look at his plate discipline and batted ball stats, you see the problem. His strikeout rate is way up, his whiff rate is up, his hard hit rate has shot down to 33.6%, and his ground ball rate has jumped up to 43.2% from 38.2% last year. He’s swinging and missing more, and he’s not making good contact, he just looks a mess all around. I hope that he can turn it around, but I worry that he might not. I still think he could get to 20 home runs while batting in the .260s the rest of the way, but that’s far from what you drafted.

Scooter Gennett (2B/OF, CIN) – 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Gennett’s been awesome this year, and I really thought he’d regress quickly, but he hasn’t, and it looks like he’s just been making awesome contact with the ball. The average will eventually come down some, as he won’t maintain a .349 BABIP all year, but he could still hit in the .270s the rest of the way and that 38% hard hit rate means the home runs will likely keep coming (though I don’t think he’ll keep up the almost 35 home run pace he’s on). Now that he’s the full-time starter ahead of Jose Peraza, he’ll get the at-bats and I think could finish the year with around 25-30 home runs.

Jorge Bonifacio (OF, KC) – 3-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI. That’s now three straight games with a home run for Bonifacio, who’s quietly been having a really solid year this year. The power numbers should come down, as his 34% hard hit rate won’t support his 20.9% HR/FB rate, but I think the guy could still hit in the .250s the rest of the way and end the year with around 22-25 home runs. In deeper leagues, he’s pretty useful, and he’s available in around 97% of ESPN leagues.

Eddie Rosario (OF, MIN) – 3-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. Eddie Rosario is another who’s been quietly having a really nice year, slashing .296/.333/.484 on the year, and over the past month, he’s been especially good, slashing .361/.393/.566. Now, there will be regression, as he won’t keep up a .345 BABIP nor will his 29.2% hard hit rate support his current 13.9% HR/FB rate, but I don’t think the regression will be major. He’s fast enough to support an above-average BABIP (his career BABIP is .338), so I think he could hit in the .270s the rest of the way and will probably end the year with 15-19 home runs and a handful of steals. Another guy who’s useful in deeper leagues and is available in around 95% of ESPN leagues. He’s especially useful in daily leagues, as he’s a .324 hitter at home, so if you can toss him in there in those home matchups, do it.

Hunter Renfroe (OF, SD) – 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. We’ve always known the power is legit for Renfroe, but that’s about all you can expect from him. I’d say he’s a safe bet to end the year with 30 home runs, but with a 28% strikeout rate and just a 6.1% walk rate, he’s going to really hurt your average (and will especially hurt you in an OBP league). However, if you need power, Renfroe can give that to you in large quantities.

Ben Palmer

Senior columnist at Pitcher List. Lifelong Orioles fan, also a Ravens/Wizards/Terps fan. I also listen to way too much music, watch way too many movies, and collect way too many records.

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