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Carlos Santana Is Smooth

It’s easy to forget the immediate impact Carlos Santana had after being called up by the Cleveland Indians in mid-June. Before Santana’s season was cut short on August 2nd by a knee injury, he managed to compile a .260 batting average with 23 R, 6 HR, 22 RBI and 3 SB. If not for the season ending injury he certainly would have the same hype surrounding him as Buster Posey, Jason Heyward and Mike Stanton.

Even though the 46 games Santana played in last year represent a small sample size, there are many underlying statistics that bode well for his future success. The one stat that jumps off the page is Santana’s walk rate. He walked 37 times last year, or 19.3 percent of the time. That is almost unheard of for a first year player and shows that Santana already has a keen eye for the strike zone. The high walk rate shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise since Santana’s walk rate was 16.8 percent in double-A and 18.3 percent in triple-A.

More evidence supporting Santana’s plate discipline is his O-Swing%. Last year he only swung at 22.4 percent of pitches outside the strike zone. Compare his O-Swing% to the league average of 29.3 percent and you can see that Santana is already well ahead of the curve in that aspect of the game.

It’s no secret that Santana has a lot of power potential. In 189 career games between double-A and triple-A, Santana clubbed 37 home runs. That power translated well to the majors last year as his isolated power (ISO) was .207, better than Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, Brian McCann and Posey. If he continues avoiding pitches outside the zone, Santana will have more pitches to drive through the strike zone which could result in big power numbers.

You may be thinking that yes his power is great but that .260 batting average gives me visions of Mike Napoli. Well, fear not because Santana should hit for a high average. In AA and AAA he managed to bat .290 and .316, respectively. Also, Santana was a bit unlucky last year in the majors. His somewhat low average was the result of a low BABIP of .277. Since his line drive percentage (LD%) was a healthy 21.1%, I think it’s safe to predict that next year Santana’s BABIP, and consequently his batting average, will rise.

2011 Fantasy Outlook

Santana’s rehab is on schedule and he should be fine for Opening Day. He is penciled in as the everyday catcher and most likely will hit in the middle of the Indians lineup surrounded by Grady Sizemore and the always underrated Shin-Soo Choo. At 24 years old Santana has already shown great plate discipline and has as much power potential as anyone at the catcher position. Instead of drafting McCann in the early rounds, wait a couple more rounds for Santana.

2011 Fantasy Projection

.285 | 75 R | 24 HR | 88 RBI | 5 SB

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About the author: George graduated with a degree in Journalism, but instead of walking at his graduation, he walked down the aisle at his wedding. He’s been playing fantasy baseball for over a decade and his interest and knowledge in the sport is as big and growing as his eyebrows are bushy…and growing. (@BaseballProf)

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