Would you consider this a high-octane, high-offense, get-high-in-48-of-50-states-but-watch-your-stash-in-Alaska-type of environs? Present day baseball, I’m saying. Would you consider it a home run happy environment? Not to answer, but to nod along like you know where I’m going but will be surprised anyway. You would, right? I would, so it’s okay to think it. Okay, without looking up for the answer, how would you hit a home run? Trick question! You have to look up for the answer. It’s fly balls. You hit fly balls and you have a chance for home runs. What’s the opposite of fly balls? Okay, stop looking up, it’s ground balls. The lowest ground ball rates for qualified hitters last year: Mike Trout (25.2%), Joey Gallo (26.6%), Adam Duvall (29.2%), Trevor Story (29.7%), Jose Ramirez (30.1%), and Freddie Freeman (31.6%). Just avoiding ground balls isn’t some kind of magic elixir, or Magik if a mutant is reading. You also need to hit the ball hard, like, say, Nick Castellanos, the Greek God of Hard Contact, who had a 26% line drive rate. Imagine someone hit fewer ground balls than Mike Trout, but more line drives than Castellanos, would that kind of magic interest you? Enter, stage right: The Amazing Anthony Santander…*Santander struggles to find an opening in the curtains, ruining his entrance*…The Amazing Santander! The Amazing…Will someone please help him with that stupid curtain? *watches as the curtain falls on him* Okay, we’re gonna fix that and the show will continue. So, what can we expect from Anthony Santander for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
As directly alluded to in the opening, Anthony Santander’s fly ball, ground ball and line drive rates were 49.6%, 23.6% and 26.8%, respectively. Or disrespectively, eat a D all you haters! Last year was a super small sample — that’s what she said derisively — for Santander. More so than other players, because an oblique (vague!) sidelined him, and he only had 153 ABs in 37 games. Those 153 ABs were commensurate with some of the best players in baseball last year. He had 7.9% barrels per plate appearance, which was same as Acuña. His year over year (though, clearly, it’s more like year over a month-plus) shows Santander in the top 10 for his increase in Hard Hit percentage. That drove other gains, and he went from a .264 xBA to .286 xBA, a rate increase nearly the same as Ozuna and Treat Urner, and top 30 overall. His Sweet Spot% was 40.6 and 15th overall, and 8th best increase from 2019. There’s not a ton of “bad” names in these lists where Santander is sitting.
You should be convinced by now that Santander was good last year, but are you coyly batting your eyelashes, wondering if he can be good in 2021? Why the hell would I be 500 words into a post about him if I didn’t believe? We wasting each other’s time for s’s and g’s? His Launch Angle last year was 24.7. That’s basically dragging the bat head on the ground and swinging straight up like you’re hammering something into the ceiling. My only actual concern is he becomes Joey Gallo and Rhys Hoskins, hitting a 50% Fly Ball rate and .240, due to a shizzton of 370-foot fly ball outs. The bright side is Santander has a .261 average two years running and a 15.2% strikeout rate last year. So, Santander might hit .240, but it’s going to come off of bad BABIP luck, or a ton of weak contact fly balls. It’s not going to come from strikeouts. The worst case scenario comp is Kyle Seager, who also hits fly balls and doesn’t strike out, but hits .240. Of course, Camdentown is better than Seattle’s Best Coffee and No Homer Park. Also, Seager is 33 years old, and Santander is 26, and entering his prime. Right now, Anthony Santander is going around 165th overall, and is an absolute steal. To give you a better, more realistic comp, Santander does what you want from Michael Conforto, and his top 75 overall price tag. For 2021, I’ll give Anthony Santander projections of 82/32/93/.271/2 in 567 ABs with a chance for more.