Batter’s Box: The Other Santana Isn’t Getting A Fair Shake
Milwaukee OF Domingo Santana has been an interesting fantasy play and unsung hero for Milwaukee all year long. After going 3-4, 2 RBI, K, SB Tuesday against Pittsburgh, it was intriguing to see him contribute in a non-power, non-run-scoring capacity. Normally, he does have cross-category value and will bring something to the table in each one over the course of a handful of games. Santana is playing second fiddle to unrelated Carlos Santana, who’s enjoying a brilliant second half and helping key the Indians to its historic win streak. But fantasy aficionados should be well aware that Showmingo is a decently consistent hitter for average—.276 on the season, .303 in September, but just .251 in the second half. He usually tosses in acceptable run production, bursts of speed and a fair helping of homers for good measure. He’s scored 77 times, plated 71 ribbies, gone yard 24 times and has 13 steals to his credit. His hard hit rate of 37.9% and HR/FB ratio of 28.2% have all turned out really nicely over the course of 2017; he does, however, whiff a fair amount (13.3% SwStr%) and could definitely stand to improve his zone contact rate of 79.1%. He’s probably best utilized as a streamer in your OF. He’s performed best when hitting second or fifth. A fun fact is that Santana weirdly hits for average better on the road but homers more often in Milwaukee.
Now, for some other notable hitting outings across the league:
Mookie Betts (OF, BOS) – 3-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI. He finally booked his spot in the 20/20 club with this dual-homer effort Tuesday, but it shouldn’t have taken this long. Before this past Friday, Betts had just two homers in the second half of the season and 18 overall. His third hit was a triple, by the way, so that’s a legitimately awesome day of slugging. But the numbers he put up in 2016 set the bar really high in terms of fantasy expectation for Betts this year; the fact that he very well may not be a perennial 30-homer guy is something we’re now having to come to terms with. Betts still managing to amass 24 steals obviously means his value is loftier than it would have been, since his .264 average has also disappointed after a .318 mark last year. To clarify, Betts is still an extremely desirable fantasy asset, but he has not lived up to the top-5 overall pick type of billing he had. Betts has also dealt with an unfavorable BABIP all year long, so cut him a little bit of slack. He should be able to finish the year with several more homers and steals, and it’s more likely that he’ll eclipse the 100 milestone for runs (90 right now) than it is for RBI (87 now after the sextet last night); keep him in your lineup.
Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF, PHI) – 2-6, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB. This is becoming a broken record as far as fantasy baseball advice. The guy is scoring a run per game and homering nearly every other game so far in September, and this is all with a .298 season average. Hoskins has kind of become what Cody Bellinger was during his first few months in The Show: of his 10 hits this month, seven have been XBH (2 2B, 5 HR). It is the epitome of no-brainers to start him every possible day you can.
Jason Castro (C, MIN) – 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, K. Castro has been a little hot-and-cold lately: he’s gone hitless three times and also had three multi-hit games in September. He’s far from a surefire fantasy stud, but he has managed to score runs decently in the second half (12 runs in 45 AB during August). Castro did land on the 7-day concussion DL recently but was reactivated September 3. The RBI just aren’t really there with him usually batting eighth in the order. He’s probably only worth your time right now at all if you play in a two-catcher league.
Ozzie Albies (2B/SS, ATL) – 3-5, 3 R, HR, RBI, SB. Albies extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his second consecutive multi-hit game Tuesday. Batting .326 in September while starting and furthering that streak, Albies has consistently been the No. 2 hitter in the Braves lineup, so his 25 runs outpacing his 18 RBI over 147 AB makes total sense. He’s been a really solid late-season add since his call-up from Triple-A Gwinnett on August 1. He’s doubled seven times and tripled five times as well, so the XBH appeal is there in points formats also. He is not a great source of power thus far, so just know that going in. Despite a high BABIP and mid-30s in hard contact percentage, Albies isn’t enjoying the benefit of a competitive HR/FB ratio.
Ben Gamel (OF, SEA) – 3-5, R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 K. Gamel joined Kyle Seager in beating up on Seattle hurler Miguel Gonzalez with the long ball in yesterday’s contest: the two bombs accounted for six of the seven earned runs given up. Gamel hasn’t been a frequent contributor of power, so to see two homers in four games from him is definitely not the norm. Considering his batting average was at .323 at the start of the second half, you know Gamel has had a rough go of things in the medium term for it to have sunk all the way to .279. I’m not recommending a pickup to close out your postseason, as having scored seven runs in six weeks is pretty unacceptable for fantasy relevance.
Kyle Schwarber (C/OF, CHC) – 3-3, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB. He pinch-hit a homer on Saturday, didn’t play Sunday, and then turned around after the Cubs’ off day to homer in Tuesday’s game against the Mets. Power continues to be Schwarber’s primary redeeming benefit, as he’s got 26 homers now; the 60 runs he has scored are perhaps a lackluster, distant second. Before the 4-4 run over his last two outings, he was batting just .199 on the season. Same old, same old. He’s a desperation stab at winning the homers category and perhaps not worth the risk if you’re going up against a team that sports a bevy of high-average hitters.
Kennys Vargas (1B/DH, MIN) – 1-1, R, HR, 3 RBI. Vargas isn’t an appealing option as even a UTIL play on the regular, as he doesn’t get regular playing time in Minnesota’s order. The fact that he has homered in consecutive games is more of a lucky fluke if you happened to deploy him in your lineup: Vargas has bounced back and forth between the Twins and Triple-A Rochester several times throughout the season, and he tends to defer to Robbie Grossman when Minnesota faces RHP. As a switch-hitter, Vargas is useful in real life but lacks the sort of counting stats and average (.252) that would give him fantasy appeal. Don’t be deceived by his September slugging percentage of 1.091, since he’s gone just 5-11 across six games and happened to go for XBH three times. That’s a classic case of Beware The Small Sample Size.
Brandon Moss (1B/OF/DH, KCR) – 2-2, R, HR, 4 RBI, BB. Great work on the grand salami and three consecutive games with homers, but his owners are well aware the average woes have been significant enough that this last gasp of power is probably too little, too late. Across 314 AB, just 38 runs and 45 RBI as a DH probably make a little more sense when you realize he’s been demoted to the lower third of the order because of his .210 average. But still, 21 homers don’t compensate for that multi-category liability. If you own him and win HRs this week during the playoffs, your opponent will know just as well as you that Lady Luck graced your matchup considerably.