Three Up Three Down – Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana signed a 3 year $60 mil deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, after 8 MLB seasons with the Cleveland Indians.  It was the Los Angeles Dodgers that signed him as an amateur free agent back in 2004, before trading him to Cleveland for Casey Blake, near the 2008 trade deadline.  He started out as a catcher, but by 2014 he would no longer play the position, moving to 1B/DH.

With the addition on Edwin Encarnacion last offseason, the Indians felt comfortable letting Santana walk in free agency.¬† They also just signed Yonder Alonso for 2 years and $19 mil, a bargain compared to Santana’s price tag. Cleveland also has two 1B prospects in Bobby Bradley and Nellie Rodriguez.¬† Both are big HR and SO guys.

Philly and Santana were not exactly a perfect match, but they worked things out.  The Phillies already have a future 1B in Rhys Hoskins, who took the MLB by storm this past summer, hitting 18 HRs in 212 PA.  That was a 58 HR pace!  Hoskins will turn 25 before the 2018 MLB seasons throws its first pitch and now has to share an OF with Nick Williams (24), Odubel Herrera (26) and Aaron Altherr (27).  There is also Tommy Joseph (26), who is likely to get his ABs at 1B.  The Phillies either have a trade in mind, or they just stunted the growth of some of their top prospects who might never reach their full potential.  Only time will tell.

Overall, the switch-hitting Santana has turned in a .363 OBP in nearly 4600 plate appearances since establishing himself as a Major League regular back in 2011, averaging 153 games played and 24 homers per season along the way. One would think that a move to a much more hitter-friendly environment, Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, should help to improve his power output as well (though his .196 ISO in that time is already plenty strong). РMLB Trade Rumors

Let’s take a look at how Carlos Santana compares to other 1B and the rest of the league over the past two seasons. We will look at HRs, ISO, wOBA, OBP & BB%. When sorted by each category, we will find Santana and then list the players ranked 3 spots above and below him.

Home Runs

Of the 22 qualified 1B, according to FanGraphs, Santana ranks 10th over the last two seasons in total home runs with 57.  The average total is 51.2 with a high of 80 (Edwin Encarnacion) and a low of 18 (Joe Mauer).

$92 Paul Goldschmidt 60
$66 Jose Abreu 58
$19 Wil Myers 58
$31 Carlos Santana 57
$75 Miguel Cabrera 54
$19 Hanley Ramirez 53
$3 Ryan Zimmerman 51

*2018 Salary

Zimmerman’s 51 HRs for $3 is the highest $/HR at 1B – 17.¬† Goldschmidt ranks last at .65.¬† Santana ranks 10th at 1.84.

16 of the 48 qualified hitters with 50 home runs over the last two years are 1B eligible.

There are 131 qualified bats according to FanGraphs.  Santana ranks 32nd in HRs since 2016.

ISO

Santana ranks 9th of 22 at 1B.

Only 7 1B eligible players have more XBH than Santana over the last two years.

Santana ranks 30/131 eligible bats in the MLB since 2016.

The Phillies new 1B ranks 25th overall in XBH during his final two years with the Indians.

wOBA

Carlos Santana ranks 10th in wOBA at 1B.

He ranks 31st out of 131 eligible bats at all positions.

OBP

Santana ranks 9th in OBP at 1B.

He ranks 31st out of 131 eligible bats across all positions.

BB%

Carlos Santana ranks 7th in BB% since 2016.

He ranks 10th in the MLB with Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista being the only non 1B eligible.

When looking at these five categories and focusing on just 1B, Santana ranks very similarly to Goldschmidt, Abreu, Cabrera & Belt.  When you take it into the league, of 1B that cost at least $20 and have scored a total of 1,000+ fantasy points over the past two seasons, Santana has the 2nd highest fantasy points per dollar, behind Belt, while Goldschmidt & Cabrera sit at the bottom.

 

Platooning pitchers can be fun, but definitely isn’t easy

One of the things that makes Dynasty Grinders unique — and challenging — is our seven start per week limit on pitchers.

There are a couple key¬†reasons this rule is in place to begin with. First, it prevents teams in our head-to-head format from having clear volume advantages. If my team happens to have 15 starters going this week and yours only has seven, you’re at a distinct competitive disadvantage and in deep leagues, you can’t simply pick up good — or even adequate — talent* and hope to keep up.

* This isn’t a universal truth. You’ll probably be able to find serviceable guys in free agency. But if you find yourself in a week where your seventh start depends on it, good luck.

The second reason is to prevent that last thing from being an option in the first place. In a deep dynasty league, streaming just doesn’t make sense. It’s a perfectly valid strategy in 10- or 12-team leagues where the free agent pool is plentiful. But fundamentally, dynasty leagues work to put owners in a position to mimic real life general managers. And real life general managers don’t pluck guys off the street, start them, and dump them the next day only to rinse and repeat as necessary.

Anyway, because of the seven start limit, you’re going to want to carry at least that many starting pitchers*, though probably more (2-3, ¬†maybe). Pitchers are notoriously prone to injuries and you’ll encounter weeks where all your guys’ spots in the rotation happens to fall on a Wednesday or Thursday, meaning they only get one outing that week.

* A game theory note here: one thing the seven start limit also does is make it so that hoarding SPs loses profitability at a certain point. You may think, logically, the best way to tackle pitching is to just buy up a bunch of arms. But¬†how much do you really want to invest in that sixth, seventh, eighth starter who won’t often be in your starting lineup, especially because doing so likely means skimping on offense? At some point you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul, and Paul’s sitting on your bench because Clayton Kershaw and Carlos Carrasco¬†are taking the bump¬†twice each this week.

So due to the depth of the league and the start limit, you’ll find yourself over the course of a season deploying¬†players you wouldn’t even imagine — but you still want to do so while giving yourself the best odds of success.

Sometimes it will end horribly. Sometimes you’ll get lucky. Either way, there’s a certain amount of fun to be had from finding pitchers who can sufficiently fill in gaps. The challenge is earmarking roster spots for these seldom used arms. Roster spots and flexibility, you’ll find, are pretty valuable commodities, especially as the season wears on and attrition impacts your squad.

My favorite example of a guy like this is the Miami MarlinsTom Koehler. Due to spacious Marlins Park and the NL’s lack of a designated hitter, Koehler pitched to a 3.80 FIP and 0.70 HR/9 at home in 2015. On the road, he got pummeled. His road FIP was 5.21 and HR/9 rate was 1.39.* Particularly in a points league like Dynasty Grinders, where allowing a home run goes for -12.5 points,¬†combustible HR rates like that will sting. And because of the start limit, you can’t simply absorb a bad start by culling a couple extras from whatever scraps are on the free agent pile. You just have to hope your other six guys do work.

* To translate out of linear stats and into our scoring: Koehler averaged 28.23 points per start at home but just 16.56 on the road, including all four of his negative point duds.

Between 2014 and 2015, Koehler averaged 31.5 starts a year. But since you can only start him when he pitches at home, he’s only a usable option for you roughly half the time (he¬†pitched 90.1 innings at home and 97 on the road in 2015), meaning that only 15 or 16 times per year will he be at his most optimal.

Also, just because he’s lined up to start a home game doesn’t mean he’s a sure-fire start for you that week. You’ve surely got better pitchers. Several of them, hopefully. What if your top three guys have two start weeks?¬†Being a startable option 15-16 times a year does not necessarily mean you’ll crack the lineup at each of those opportunities.

Of course, the same kind of platoon splits are¬†true of hitters. The list of guys who can only hit righties or exclusively get in the lineup against lefties is long. The Los Angeles Dodgers‘ 1B/OF Scott Van Slyke, for instance, had a .345 wOBA in 2015 and .447 wOBA (!!) in 2014 against left-handed pitching. But he averaged 97 games and 249.5 plate appearances a season over those two years. You can get mileage out of that.

Granted, many of those games and PAs logged came as a late-game situational hitter (so he likely wouldn’t have been in your fantasy lineup that day), but the fact remains: you’ll have many, many more opportunities to utilize a platoon hitter than you will a pitcher.

The other thing that makes having a platoon bat easier than a platoon arm: if half your team has off days, that platoon bat can fill in whether he’s in the lineup or not. If he’s not, fine. You know that if he does enter the game though, he’ll do so in a favorable spot. It’s the little things.

And this says nothing of platooning pitchers based on opponent handedness (i.e. doing a quick search of your lefty’s opposing team that day to see how they stack up when facing LHPs). Depending on the pitcher, that can whittle down his usefulness even more.

So, how much do you want to budget and pay for this occasionally useful, mostly bench-warming pitcher?

The point here is that, when assembling a team, each owner will have different strategies but most will be doing one shared thing, be it subconsciously or intentionally, and that’s trying to maximize every roster spot. It’s really hard to maximize roster spots when the guys you’ve got in them need the stars to align perfectly to be useful and may be lucky to get double digit starts for you in a given season.

But then, that’s part of the fun.