Domingo Santana produced an excellent year for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017.
It was the kind of season that the team needed. A breakout star at the plate that gave the Milwaukee Brewers a bat to rely on in the middle of the order. This is the kind of season the team hoped for when Santana came over from the Astros.
With a breakout year comes the big question, though. Can Santana do this again? Some guys are just a flash for one year and then they fade.
MLB Pipeline thought he could back in 2014 when they ranked him as the number 50 prospect in baseball. He was third in the Astros system behind Carlos Correa and Mark Appel. Santana even ranked higher in their farm system than Josh Hader and Brett Phillips.
For all the good Santana showed this year, there were a few red flags to go along with it. But, at 25 years old, playing his first season over 80 games, there will naturally be some of those.
Why Santana Can Repeat
First off, he hit 30 homers. Santana showed some excellent raw power in the heart of the Milwaukee Brewers lineup. To go along with that, he hit for a .278 average. So it was not a boom or bust year.
The biggest stat to show repeatability is his BABIP. This stat shows the kind of contact he is making, and how consistent it is. Sanana’s 2017 mark sat at an impressive .363. If he can keep that up, he will do just fine.
With runners in scoring position, Santana was just as reliable as anyone. His .299 RISP is a clear indication of that. And he really loved hitting at Miller Park too, nearly two-thirds of his homers came at home.
All those numbers show excellent repeatability. If he can be consistent with runners on, make good contact, and drive the ball out of the park, then he will be a great bat to have in the lineup game in and game out.
Why Santana Can’t Repeat
For starters, those homeruns in Miller Park were nice. But outside of that he hit .254 at home. Compare that to his .304 batting average away from Milwaukee and it could be an issue. Roughly half the games in a season are played at home. In order to continue to produce, he will need to start playing better in front of the Milwaukee Brewers fan base.
When the bat touches the ball for Santana, things go well. However, he struck out a lot in 2017. To put the number in perspective, the outfielder collected 146 hits. Tagging along with that is 178 strikeouts. That is the eighth most in the MLB in 2017. That is a potentially large issue. Cutting down on those will help out a ton.
Yes, Santana can turn in a similar performance. While the strikeout number is kind of scary, the most strikeouts in the season was Aaron Judge. And he had a fine year. The numbers that convinced me though were his splits against righties and lefties. He is almost the same hitter regardless. That showed enough consistency to tilt my vote.
After looking at the numbers, one thing to point out is where in the lineup Santana hits. When batting fifth, which he frequently did, he hit .280 with 12 bombs in 81 games. But he seems to like the two hole better. In 30 games, he hit nine homers and batted .318.
No matter where his hits, Santana is poised to have a good year. And at only 25 he is an intriguing youngster. If the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder continues to grow, there is not telling how valuable he can be to the team for years to come.