LGT Community Projection: Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana. - Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

Carlos Santana is next. Will his Age 27 season be his finest campaign to date?

A quick reminder:

  • If you haven't done so, please feel free to post your projection for the first six players in this series; I won't compile the results until after we've gone through all the starting positions.
  • There's a couple easy ways to get to those projections: first you can click on the link in the sidebar above, or you can click on the red Community Projections button at the top of this post.

Background

The happy circumstances under which Carlos Santana came to the Indians should be known to you, but let's review them anyways. It was 2008, the year after the Indians came within a win of the World Series, but the playoffs were already out of reach in July, and the team was trading players who were to become free agents after the season. CC Sabathia was the foremost prize of this group, having won the AL Cy Young Award the season before, and so the Indians dealt him early in July for a package of four players (Michael Brantley among them).

The CC Sabathia deal was the big trade of the summer, at least in terms of the player sent away, but there were a couple others. In August, the Indians dealt Paul Byrd to the Boston Red Sox for a PTBNL (Mickey Hall) that was out of baseball by the end of the 2009 season. And they traded Casey Blake, another pending free agent, to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the July trading deadline. Blake was having one of his better seasons with the Indians in 2008, hitting .289/.365/.465, and the Dodgers could use an upgrade at third base; although Blake DeWitt's 93 OPS+ was pretty good for a rookie, they needed more offensive production.

The Dodgers sent back to the Indians two prospects for Blake. One was pitching prospect Jon Meloan, who had high strikeout rates but little actual success in run prevention; he would pitch 2 innings for Cleveland late in 2008, and would be traded to Tampa Bay the next season. The other player was a young 22-year-old catching prospect who was in the midst of a breakout season.

Carlos Santana was an intriguing prospect before 2008, but not highly ranked by scouts. Baseball America, for instance, ranked him #25 in the Dodgers' organization after the 2007 season, noting that Santana could become a good all-around defender at the position, (he was signed as an outfielder and moved to catcher after the 2006 season) his bat wasn't as highly thought of. In 2007, in the Midwest League, he hit .223/.318/.370, not a batting line to be impressed with from a 21-year-old, even taking into account the difficulties accompanying a position switch. The Dodgers evidently thought that Santana's fine season in the California League in 2008 was due manly to the park effects and not a true breakout season, so they included him in the deal for Blake. Such is the unscientific process of evaluating prospects; the Indians struck out on highly-rated Matt LaPorta, the key player in the Sabathia trade, but they seem to have hit home runs with Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana, the former a PTBNL in the Sabathia deal, the other acquired for a 34-year-old third baseman who was just a couple months away from free agency.

Carlos Santana's 2008 season obviously was not a fluke, as he's become one of the best hitting catchers in all of baseball. Although he wears Victor Martinez's #41 and, like Martinez, is a switch-hitter, he's a different type of hitter than Martinez. Santana to this point in his career hasn't hit for a high average, but he's made for that with an outstanding walk rate and home run power. In his first full season, he hit .239/.351/.457, with 35 doubles, 27 home runs, and 97 walks in his 658 plate appearances.

If you're an opposing manager, you want Santana to hit right-handed as much as possible, for he's hit .233/.348/.438 in his career hitting right-handed; he still hits for power, but he's a lot easier to strike out.

I Split G PA H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
vs RHP as LHB 305 975 189 45 2 39 145 198 .233 .348 .438 .785
vs LHP as RHB 221 482 110 30 2 12 80 63 .278 .396 .455 .851
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/25/2013.

Santana has played some first base in the past, but with Nick Swisher there now, any time not spent behind the plate will probably be spent as a DH, or on the bench; the Indians aren't going to need rely on his bat as much as in 2011 or 2012, and that should cut down on his Plate Appearances a bit.

Historical Stats

Year Age Tm G PA H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2010 24 CLE 46 192 39 13 0 6 3 0 37 29 .260 .401 .467 .868 143
2011 25 CLE 155 658 132 35 2 27 5 3 97 133 .239 .351 .457 .808 126
2012 26 CLE 143 609 128 27 2 18 3 5 91 101 .252 .365 .420 .785 122
3 Yrs 344 1459 299 75 4 51 11 8 225 263 .247 .363 .443 .806 127
162 Game Avg. 162 687 141 35 2 24 5 4 106 124 .247 .363 .443 .806 127
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/25/2013.


Projections

ZiPS

ZiPS Projection
PA 600
2B 29
HR 20
SB 4
SB % 57%
BA/OBP/SLG .248/.362/.435

No surprises here. Low batting average, excellent OBP, and very good power production.

Cairo agrees with ZiPS:

Cairo Projection
PA 576
2B 29
HR 21
SB 5
SB % 63%
BA/OBP/SLG .249/.365/.443

A bit less playing time, and a bit more power (almost exactly same counting stats in 24 fewer Plate Appearances).

Here's my shot at it:

Ryan's Projection
PA 570
2B 25
HR 21
SB 3
SB % 50%
BA/OBP/SLG .253/.378/.438

In a recurring theme, I think Santana will get fewer Plate Appearances thanks to a stronger overall lineup. Yes, Lou Marson will be a huge downgrade from Santana, but with Swisher at first base instead of Casey Kotchman, Terry Francona shouldn't feel the need to keep him in the lineup. And if he does play while not catching, he'll DH instead of play in the field.

What are your thoughts?

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