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Carlos Santana: Growth to Resume in 2013

Carlos Santana disappointed fantasy owners in 2012, but showed signs in the second half of 2012 that can be the top 3 fantasy catcher in 2013.

David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

Last season, I ranked Carlos Santana as my #1 ranked fantasy catcher in our 2012 preseason rankings, with the thought that he would build on his already impressive 2011 season, where he hit 27 HRs and drove in 79 runs. But, Santana struggled, with a first half marred by a two month slump, resulting in a down year at the plate in 2012. Or was it?

Let's take a look at Santana's 2012 stats vs 2011:

2011: .239-.351-.457, 27 HRs, 84 runs, 79 RBI, 5 SBs, 14.7% BB, 20.2% K, .217 ISO, .263 BABIP

2012: .252-.365-.420, 18 HRs, 72 runs, 76 RBI, 3 SBs, 14.9% BB, 16.6% K, .168 ISO, .278 BABIP

He appeared to have a down year, mainly due to the drop in his power and counting stats, but his peripheral stats actually improved. His BABIP improved from .263 to .278, and his walk rate improved ever so slightly to 14.9% from 14.7%. But where he really improved was his strikeout rate, which dropped from 20.2% in 2011 to 16.6% in 2012.

As stated previously, Santana had a horrible first half to the 2012 season, making me look foolish for being so high on him after one excellent season. Maybe I was just too optimistic on him, assuming he would show growth from an already solid 2011 performance. Lesson learned. But, I think there is more growth to be had from Santana, and we could see it as soon as 2013. One reason for my optimism is his strong 2012 second half. Let's take a look:

2012 First Half: .221-.339-.336, 5 HRs, 31 runs, 30 RBI, 60-46 K-BB

2012 Second Half: .281-.389-.498, 13 HRs, 41 runs, 46 RBI, 41-45 K-BB

The difference between his first and second half performance couldn't be more different. His first half would not have been so bad had he not gone into a two month slump in May and June. Here's a quick look at his triple slash lines for each month:

April: .262-.417-.446

May: .233-.314-.344

June: .162-.284-.221

July: .276-.433-.539

August: .277-.368-.436

September: .280-.368-.495

His triple slash line fell off a cliff in May and June, and I wonder if he was pressing too much after a solid April which saw him hit 3 HRs, score 10 runs and drive in 10 runs, with a 18-18 K/BB ratio. His excellent plate discipline escaped him in May and June, as he put up back to back 20-12 strikeout to walk ratios, possibly in an effort to build on his excellent first month. Or maybe he just expanded his strike zone a bit, and pitchers took advantage of that. Whatever it was, his first half performance was disappointing. He turned things around in the second half, as we saw a return in his plate discipline. He walked more than he struck out in two of the last three months, becoming more selective at the plate, and his counting stats improved as a result.

I ranked Santana as my #2 ranked fantasy catcher in our Consensus Catcher Rankings for 2013, right behind Giants catcher Buster Posey, as I see him building on his 2012 second half. My projection for him is to hit .260 with 23 HRs, 70 runs and 80 RBI in 2013, with a chance for some upside to the batting average, HR and RBI totals. I would not be at all surprised if he approached 30 HRs, with a .275 BA, 80 runs scored and 90 RBI in 2013.