Danny Santana’s name immediately jumped off the box score for me as he continued his tear over the past week. Fellow Batter’s Box writer Scott Chu had a brief explanation of why not to expect continued greatness from Santana yesterday in our Discord (Psst: You should join us!), and I thought this a great opportunity to dive in a little further. Scott noted his abysmal previous seasons and his abilities to not walk but strikeout. This week of hitting nearly .500 has been padding up Santana’s solid season, but is this season with a wRC+ of 122 just a hot streak and will the real Santana reveal himself?
Santana has never put together a full season in the majors. His closest was his rookie year in 2014 with 101 games as a Twin. His past three seasons have been 75, 82, and 15 games played. Either spending time in the minors or injured, Santana has not been able to maintain consistent major league playing time. This season, he was called up to replace an injured Rougned Odor but stuck around with his hot play to get plugged in wherever the Rangers needed him. He’s had a productive season so far with a .312/.348/.532 line with seven dingers and nine steals. This past week, he’s been nearly unstoppable, batting .476 with three homers and capping it with last night’s 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI, SB performance. But who is this guy who came out of nowhere, rarely getting time in the majors in his six-year career?
Now with some consistent playing time, he looks to be putting it together. The first thing to note is his batted-ball profile. He’s hitting about 30% liners, grounders, and fly balls. That line drive rate is in good company with Freddie Freeman, Cody Bellinger, and Whit Merrifield. However, his HR/FB rate is by far a career high at 17.9%, 10 points above his career average. A higher number here does make sense though. He’s hitting in Texas, and he’s hitting the ball the hardest he’s hit in his career. Is this luck at all though? Possibly. His BABIP is an absurd .405, but with a sky-high line-drive rate, that is not as unreasonable as it seems, yet that number should still drop pushing down his average as the season progresses. His expected stats are also a bit lower than his actual performance, but they are relatively in line with his output. My main concern with his continued success is his plate discipline. It hasn’t changed much at all with his career stats. Ultimately, he isn’t walking and he strikes out a ton. My conclusion? Santana has definitely improved and has produced much better contact. However, the level of contact for a player with his pedigree is not sustainable at this level, and we will start seeing that in the next month.
Elvis Andrus (SS, Texas Rangers)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 3B, 2 RBI. This was Andrus first home run in more than a month. It came right before his IL stint with a hamstring strain. It doesn’t look to be lingering as he’s 6-6 in steals since he has returned. It’s basically been a month since then, and he hasn’t been spectacular. He’s only striking out 16.1% of the time, but he never walks. His power has been limited with only a .418 slugging percentage. This may be much closer to where we see his offensive numbers for the remainder of the year as his xSLG is still below .400 for the season.
Victor Robles (OF, Washington Nationals)—2-3, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. It hasn’t been the thrilling rookie season we were looking for out of Robles. He’s still be stumbling out of the gate, but has he caught his footing? He’s homered in each of the past two games. His past month has shown a pretty stunted output in line with his expected stats too. He hasn’t been too unlucky or lucky either way. And one stolen base in a month for Robles is a big hole.
Gleyber Torres (2B/SS, New York Yankees)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. With the Yankee lineup finally getting its pieces back in place, Torres tried his hardest to keep it from falling apart completely. This past month, he hit seven homers with over 20 runs and RBI with a 140 wRC+. Two of those homers and seven of the RBI came within the past two games. His been hitting more fly balls and fewer grounders too, which can certainly help playing in a ballpark like Yankee Stadium.
Jake Marisnick (OF, Houston Astros)—3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. I feel like Marisnick is the Astro who gets lost in the shuffle. He’s been with them for a few years now, always putting in 100 games, but never one of the stars. With an organization such as the Astros, it’s wild that he can still find a spot year after year. This season, he’s been putting together one of his better offensive years but has barely done anything this past month until yesterday’s two-home run night. Including last night, for the past month he’s hit below .200 with a .380 slugging percentage and an 80 wRC+. Even with sufficient playing time, Marisnick still isn’t worth it in fantasy.
Luis Rengifo (2B/SS, Los Angeles Angels)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. This young rookie infielder has had a consistent spot in the lineup since the end of May after Andrelton Simmons hit the IL with an injured ankle. He’s been holding his own since, with a 108 wRC+ but nothing to stand out fantasy-wise. He doesn’t have power and could steal a bag here and there, but he’s yet to do so. He may be necessary in a deeper AL-only league but nowhere else.
Javier Baez (2B/3B/SS, Chicago Cubs)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 3B, 2 RBI. It’s been a month for Baez. More strikeouts and a much lower BABIP has helped produce a .229 average with an 87 wRC+ since May 21. He’s been hitting more grounders and making less contact on everything. While his numbers have been worse, he’s still getting a solid dose of bad luck. His BABIP is about 70 points below his career mark, and he’s been performing well below his expected stats especially in June. He should rebound shortly.
José Iglesias (SS, Cincinatti Reds)—2-4, R, HR, 4 RBI. Iglesias has been handling the shortstop duties almost exclusively as Jose Peraza has been a huge bust this season. Iglesias has been serviceable but nothing to write home about for your fantasy league. Despite stealing 15 bags last year, he’s only swiped one so far this season. He has no power and hits in the back of the lineup. The perfect storm for a fantasy player. Leave him on waivers.
Nick Senzel (3B/OF, Cincinatti Reds)—2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. The Senzation, on the other hand for the Reds, has been picking things up. He has three homers in the past week and a solid last month with a .515 slugging percentage. He’s been making much more contact in the zone as the season has progressed, a good sign of comfortability with major league pitching. Senzel is definitely tracking in the right direction.
Matt Chapman (3B, Oakland Athletics)—2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. Chapman has continued to show this season that not only is his glove elite but his bat is elite too. He’s been matching his numbers from last season quite well, with some notable improvements. He’s making more contact, especially on pitches out of the zone, resulting in a 5-point drop in strikeout rate on the year. It has popped back up this past month with a higher swinging-strike rate but still with a 126 wRC+ that’s not anything to worry about.
Tommy Pham (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)—1-3, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB, SB. Pham delivered a home run-stolen base combo meal for his first stolen base in quite some time. Pham still looks to be on track to finish with about the same home runs and steals from last season, but with a .431 OBP in the past month and only one steal to show for it, he may be holding back. But yes, you did hear that correctly. He has a .431 OBP the past month alongside a .617 slugging percentage and 180 wRC+. Let’s hope the Rays bats behind him can start knocking him home a bit more often.
Mike Yastrzemski (OF, San Francisco Giants)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. It hasn’t yet been a month of a career for the new Yaz, and he’s been solid. Nothing special. Of course, he has a lot to live up to. The past seven days, he has three homers and two of them in his past two games, so he may be settling in to his spot. However, this 28-year-old rookie will need to do a lot more to prove worthy of a fantasy spot while striking out almost 30% of the time.
Austin Barnes (C/2B, Los Angeles Dodgers)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Our favorite hybrid catcher has yet to venture out into the infield this season. He had a small stint on the IL earlier this month, but still, in the past month of baseball, he has done next to nothing. Except a nice night against the Giants. Barnes’ lack of playing time on top of the injury has been deserved. He has kept hitting like last season with an average hovering around the Mendoza line and a slugging under .400. If he’s still around your team, it’s best to dump him.
(Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire)