2014 Outlook for Carlos Santana
Catcher has always been a fairly weak position from a fantasy standpoint, and the talent pool may be getting even thinner. After being usurped as the starting catcher by 26-year-old Yan Gomes for roughly two months, Carlos Santana has been experimenting at third base and will continue to do so over the winter. Gomes proved himself a superior defensive catcher in his brief window of playing time, and has received the nod as the Indians’ starting catcher going into 2014. While he was competent at the plate in 2013 (.271 batting average with 11 HR), you can expect Gomes to remain no better than average once he assumes a full-time role.
Santana, on the other hand, has always been a solid offensive catcher, slashing on average .254/.367/.446 with around 16 jacks and 76 RBI in his three full seasons in the bigs. It makes sense that the Indians would try to keep him in the lineup on a daily basis, and at only 28 years old, they are reticent to make him a day-to-day DH. With the offensively lackluster Lonnie Chisenhall as the only other regular 3B on the squad, Santana could very well break into the starting lineup at the hot corner on a regular or semi-regular basis. Santana is getting a jump on the game by training during winter ball in the Dominican Republic, while most players wouldn’t try out a new position until Spring Training. It also doesn’t hurt that switching positions was his idea, which means that he wasn’t forced into it and should be able to work hard at making himself better.
The biggest issue for Santana fantasy-wise will be his eligibility. Having played 20+ games at catcher last season, he’ll start the season catcher-eligible. He can of course be used in a utility or DH spot as well, but he’ll start the season without the 1B eligibility that he had going in to last season. In a typical fantasy league, it takes 10 starts at a position to gain eligibility at a new position, and Santana could very well end up eligible at two or three positions come the end of the year. The Indians are going to be creative to keep Santana in the lineup, so I can see him getting time at 1B, C, DH and possibly 3B should the experiment work out in the Dominican.
From a statistical perspective, I think Santana will slightly improve on his career average. I’ll openly admit to being a fan of his skillset, and I think that when he doesn’t have the physical and mental stress of catching on his plate, he will improve his focus on hitting. Presumedly hitting in the middle of the Indians lineup, he will have plenty of opportunities to produce runs, and he’s still going to draw nearly 100 walks. I’m not willing to commit to any numbers this early in the year, but I think his ceiling is .280, 25 jacks, 90 RBI and 100 walks. Realistically, I’d project him for .270 with 20 HR, 80 RBI and 90 walks.
Agree? Disagree? I wanna know. Tweet me @Roto_Dubs or comment here.