Today we’ll continue our Indians fantasy forecasts with the Tribe’s catcher, first baseman, and designated hitter extraordinaire: Carlos Santana. Is he a fantasy stud or a potential fantasy bust? If it were up to Cleveland fans the answer to that question would be stud all the way. But does the internet agree? Do the experts believe Carlos Santana is headed for the next great fantasy season by a catcher? Will he become 1997 Mike Piazza reincarnated? Let’s find out.
- Player: Carlos Santana
- Eligible Position(s): Catcher, First Base, DH
- Average Position Rank: #3 for cather, #13 for first base
- Projected Draft Position: 6th round or later
- Projected Auction Value: $18
Carlos Santana is one player with whom I vehemently disagree with the rest of the Internet over. This is the classic case of arguing potential upside versus past performance. For reasons I can’t fully begin to comprehend, the fantasy world seems be in agreement in diminishing Santana’s value heading into the 2013 fantasy season.
While there is no arguing the disappointment we have all experienced with Santana over the past two seasons, one fact remains unchanged: Santana is an insanely talented hitter with an über amount of upside and he’s still only 26 years old. Yet fantasy experts still believe that he is the 5 home run, 30 RBI, .220 batting average hitter who labored through the first half of last season.
If we were talking about Santana strictly as a first baseman, this would make sense. His ranking as a first baseman comes in right around No. 13. With the like of Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Joey Votto it’s easy to understand how and why Santana would rank where he does. But, while Santana is position eligible as a first baseman, his primary position of eligibility is still at catcher where he ranks as the third-best option available on most boards behind Buster Posey, and Joe Mauer.
It’s understandable that most of the preseason rankings are a bit conservative in regards to Santana. After all, in each of the past two seasons he has struggled to find his groove prior to the All-Star Break. However, for as cold as he has been over those stretches, he has been able to be equally as hot following the break. If Santana could put together a complete season hitting at a level more closely resembling his second half surges from the previous two seasons there is no reason to expect anything less than 30 home runs, 100 RBI and production worthy of the No. 1 catcher spot he was awarded by most experts in 2012. Coming from the catcher’s position, that’s huge.
Naturally, many will point to Santana’s batting average as a drawback. And while yes, a batting average in the .250-.260 range may hurt the bottom line for your team, it’s not something that can’t be offset by other players in your lineup. It’s also not enough to outweigh the potential upside of runs, home runs, and RBI Santana can bring to the table.
On top of that, Santana’s plate discipline is remarkable. He draws a large number of walks, allowing for an OBP of more than 100 points higher than his average. His ability to hit for power is also a plus. This helps make Santana a valuable asset for teams in league that keep track of OBP and or OPS as a stat category.
Another indicator of the misunderstood value comes from the difference in his projected draft positioning in a traditional snake draft and his dollar value in auction style drafts. Most snake drafts have Santana penciled in anywhere from the sixth round or later. Meanwhile, Santana’s projected auction value is believed to be somewhere around $18 in a standard cap league but I have seen it projected as high as $28. That’s a rather larger gap indicating that there’s not a clear cut consensus on Santana’s true value.
The added benefit for drafting Carlos Santana is the assurance that he can be plugged into your lineup on an almost daily basis. Whereas other catchers routinely receive full days off throughout the season, Santana’s days off will more than likely occur at either first base or DH. This also provides an added level of flexibility in order to ensure you are playing an optimal lineup on a daily basis. For anyone that has struggled to fill a roster spot last minute due to either injury or a day off, you understand how valuable flexibility truly is.
So with that said, I would not be afraid to draft Carlos Santana earlier than expected or pay in the upper-$20 range for his services in 2012. As the centerpiece of the Indians lineup he should have ample opportunity to put up big numbers for anyone who has a bit of patience. If you’re in a keeper league he’s even more appealing so don’t be afraid to reach for or spend big bucks on the Tribe’s backstop.
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