Milwaukee Brewers: What’s up with Domingo Santana?

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 9: Domingo Santana
ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 9: Domingo Santana /

Domingo Santana has appeared in 21 out of the Milwaukee Brewers 23 games. He’s also yet to hit a home run, and only one of his 16 hits went for extra bases. How long will his hitting drought continue?

There was concern over Domingo Santana‘s playing time heading into the 2018 season. The Milwaukee Brewers have a glut of outfielders. Santana looked like the odd man out on most days with Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich in the fold.

With the injuries the Brewers have suffered in the first month of the season, Santana is third on the team in at-bats. It’s too bad that most of them have been awful.

How bad is Santana at the plate right now?

Bad. Santana’s OPS is only .546. He’s racked up 25 strikeouts in 21 games played. He has nine walks to his credit, but he’s managed only 15 singles and one lonely double when putting the ball in play. Santana is about as ice cold as it gets.

Is there reason for optimism?

Maybe? He’s been rough in April in each of the last three seasons. In the last two Aprils, Santana managed a .753 OPS in 2016 and a .774 OPS in 2017. Those aren’t terrible numbers, but they came with a .250 batting average in 2016 and a .197 batting average in 2017. Santana isn’t a stranger to early struggles.

He also has a 27.1% HR:FB ratio. Meaning for every four fly balls he’s hit, one finds it’s way past the fence. With zero homers in 2018, his HR:FB ratio is at 0.0%. He won’t end the season with an HR:FB ratio of 0.0%.

His line drive rate is also over 10% lower than his career average.

Santana is simply too talented to continue to post numbers this bad. Balls will find their way over the fence, and he will square up a few line drives.

Next: Where are the Brewers headed next?

What is concerning is how the Milwaukee Brewers view Santana now that Yelich and Cain are in the outfield for the long haul. Is Santana a franchise building block? Is he expendable? Would they deal him for pitching at the trade deadline? The current slump is hurting his value in a trade, and could create concern over his long term viability. Santana won’t fetch the same return now that he would have in the off season. He also looks like a guy in need of a few days off. He could end up on the bench more often that no if he doesn’t turn it around soon.