Batter’s Box: Santana Claus Came Late This Year

It’s probably been a bit tough both being Carlos Santana and owning him in fantasy this year, in terms of having to deal with the obligatory letdown from highly-set expectations....

It’s probably been a bit tough both being Carlos Santana and owning him in fantasy this year, in terms of having to deal with the obligatory letdown from highly-set expectations. After such a colossal 2016 in which his power that yielded 34 homers would often come in handy to kickstart the Indians’ offense leading up to and through the postseason, many wondered if it that kind of top-tier production would be the norm for Santana moving forward. What we’re seeing from Santana in 2017 on the whole is a little more in keeping with his career averages across the board: his season BA matches his career mark exactly at .248, and he’s slugging .003 better right now than his career SLG of .444. With last night’s stat line of 3-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB at Target Field, however, it’s fair to wonder if Santana may be saving some of his best stuff for late in the year. He’s now tied for the 28th-best ISO in the second half among qualified hitters with All-Star Justin Smoak at .282, along with having a top-30 wOBA since the festivities in Miami as well. Santana’s managed eight homers in the same span even as teammate and frequent DH Edwin Encarnacion has stolen much of the spotlight while hitting just one more bomb since the break. For context, he’s taken basically one month to almost double his HR count, so the power surge is real. Both Tribe sluggers had pretty slow starts, but one thing worth emphasizing is that Santana hasn’t had the benefit of a BABIP above .300 since 2013. Yet somehow, he has still somehow logged an RBI total in the 80s for the three straight years since then, and he is now on pace to make it four consecutive campaigns where he’s improved his run count (low 90s is what he projects to end up with). It may have been easy to dismiss a guy who was batting .211 two months ago as having a sophomore slump after his awesome work last year, but don’t sleep on the bat that Santana can be for you in the fantasy matchups that remain this season. He’s got both 1B and OF eligibility, too, so that’s clutch.

Now, let’s take a peek at what else happened meaningfully in the hitting world yesterday:

Cory Spangenberg (2B/3B/OF, SDP) 2-4, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, K, SB. This kid is seriously doing it all at the moment. Seven-game hit streak, four consecutive with multiple hits, four homers in three games AND back-to-back with a steal. He might very well win his owners a closely contested roto matchup this week with that kind of Renaissance man stuff. He’s slugging .615 in August, so hop on the bandwagon if you need some help from one of a guy who’s one of San Diego’s most dynamic bats right now.

Howie Kendrick (1B/2B/3B/OF, WSH) 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K. Well, that didn’t take long. Fresh off a walk-off grandy Sunday, Kendrick made Angels SP Tyler Skagg’s life a living hell with two solo shots that would end up accounting for the margin of the 3-1 series-opening victory. He’s not a lock to start at any of his eligible positions, particularly with Michael Taylor back from the DL, but don’t count on Mike Scioscia keeping Kendrick’s hot hand out of the lineup any time soon. Adam Lind has LF duties pretty regularly and spells Ryan Zimmerman occasionally, but he is no match for Kendrick’s ability at the dish.

Josh Donaldson (3B, TOR) 2-3, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. Keep it goin’, big fella! Three back-to-back games with a homer now, and it feels as though the equilibrium is being restored after what has been a rocky season by Donaldson’s lofty standards. That makes seven homers in August for 18 on the year, and he’s also doubled three times this month to lift his slugging percentage from .442 on July 31 to the .519 it is now. Average is up to .263 as well. He’s back to being unbenchable.

Eric Hosmer (1B, KCR) 2-4, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI. Hoz has a top-50 second-half OPS with an .897, and I’m noticing an improvement in his BB/K ratio as the season goes on too, if that sort of stuff matters to you (i.e. OBP league aficionados). He’s got 10 runs and 11 RBI in 15 August games and has homered four times since the turn of the month for 20 overall. You can’t be mad about the .314 average, but it would be awesome if he could steal another three bases like he did in July.

Khris Davis (OF, OAK) 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, K. Only seven guys have more RBI than Davis’s 86, and only five have more homers than his 33. The .242 average is the least of my concerns when those two awesome knowledge bombs become apparent.

Matt Joyce (OF, OAK) 2-5, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, K. Joyce is 11-35 this month with four homers and five doubles in just 10 games, if you can believe that. His 57 runs and 50 RBI aren’t too shabby, either. His average had been abysmal earlier in the year, which might account for why he remained off the fantasy radar; at .234, it’s no longer quite the liability it was.

Denard Span (OF, SFG) 3-4, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB. The 33-year-old has seven steals now, which surprised me to read. Span scores runs but underwhelms in the RBI department. He’s got a .271 average and is more of a pure run-scorer with 53, as opposed to 28 RBI, which makes sense from a leadoff man. He’s not a stellar CF, but he’s somehow doing OK with his bat this year to secure playing time despite being a member of a pretty crowded outfield unit. Despite the awesome night, he’s a fourth or fifth OF in fantasy.

Mike Napoli (1B/DH, TEX) 2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 K. Just 7-40 in August, Napoli is once again under the Mendoza Line. Just six of his 24 homers have come since the All-Star break, and the .198 average should be a serious no-no in any roto player’s list of commandments. The 52 RBI and 49 runs are passable, but after 348 at-bats, you’d hope he would be making up for the BA somehow, and the power is unfortunately coming at too steep a cost.

Joey Gallo (1B/3B/OF) 1-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB (IBB), 2 K. Classic Gallo stat line. He somehow ekes out another run by reaching base not with a hit, and he homers for his only crack of the night to register some RBI. The tides have turned, as Napoli is now the poster boy for embarrassing BA while offering power; Gallo has 10 more homers and a slightly less vomit-inducing .208 to his credit. The run production is way more solid as well, with 64 RBI and 11 runs (17 and 11 this month, respectively). He’s having a great second half, sporting a 1.095 OPS despite a .211 BABIP in that timeframe.

Jay Bruce (OF, CLE) 2-4, 2 R, BB, SB. Bruce has yet to go hitless as a Cleveland starter (overlooking his 0-1 PH debut last Thursday, of course). He notched his first steal of the year last night and he has three multi-hit efforts during his five-game streak. He finished his career as a Met on an 0-14 slump, so the change of scenery has clearly helped him. I’d expect Lonnie Chisenhall’s playing time to be most in question when he returns from the 10-day DL if Bruce can continue to rake like this.

Austin Jackson (OF, CLE) 3-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. Jackson has had a little trouble staying healthy this year, but he’s been monstrously effective for Cleveland when he has been with the club. Through a mere 161 AB, he’s finagled an exceptional .323 average to go along with five homers, 24 RBI and 20 runs. Being a member of a platoon in the Tribe outfield probably limits his fantasy stock but he’s hit safely in 11 of his last 13 starts and slugging .571 in August, so take that for what it’s worth.

Dominic Smith (1B, NYM) 1-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, K. Smith hit his first career MLB jack Tuesday, taking only 17 at-bats to do so since getting the call late last week. With the departure of Lucas Duda for Rays country, Smith is the next guy in line despite Wilmer Flores being able to man the spot also. Smith is a guy to keep an eye on for dynasty purposes, as he’s hitting .235 already and appears to be unintimidated by the pitching in The Show.

Andrew Todd-Smith

Journalistically trained and I have written for SB Nation. Fantasy baseball & football nerd, and there's a solid chance I'll outresearch you. I live in Columbus, pull for Cleveland and could learn to despise your team if you give me reason to. Navy veteran and wordplay addict with an expat background.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login