If you checked out my fan post, you know that the breakout stars of 2014 can quickly become the duds of 2015. I want to look today at a pair of Twin City breakouts from 2014 to see if, to quote the great Denny Green, "they are who we thought they were." Kennys Vargas and Danny Santana helped a lot of fantasy teams last year during the home stretch with their ginormous batting averages and great counting stats (homers for Vargas, steals for Santana). These two fell short of the required number of ABs to qualify for my BABIP leaders list, but they would both be high on the list.
Danny Santana's .404 BABIP was second in baseball among hitters with at least 150 PAs, while Vargas' .340 BABIP was no slouch either. So, are either of these guys for real? Can they help us in 2015?
Let's kick it off with Santana, a multi-position fantasy blessing. He provided shortstop-eligibility, steals, runs and a .319 average. Just for kicks, he threw in a .472 slugging and seven (!) homers. Why does seven homers get an exclamation point? His career minor league high in homers was eight, in 547 plate appearances. So seven in 430 PAs is definitely outside his norm.
His minor league BABIPs (which can't be directly compared to MLB values, since minor league defenses are not so good) range from .317 to .377, with almost all of them well above the MLB average of .300. With his above average speed, he should have higher than average BABIPs, but his .405 this year is impossible to maintain. He had a stellar 26% line drive rate, which was 25th highest in MLB. Nothing in his scouting report indicates he is the type of hitter that can maintain that kind of line drive rate, so don't count on it next year.
His power, too, was absurdly higher than his minor league track record. Looking into my crystal ball, I see a big drop in power, BABIP, and average. He doesn't walk much (4.4% walk rate), so his OBP will really suffer with a lower BABIP. His role next year is unclear right now, but it looks like the Twinkies will continue to use him in both center and at shortstop, with an emphasis on short, so he should keep that positional eligibility. Feast your eyes on the table, which shows the Steamer projection for Santana as well as my own projection for 2015.
Since he is a shortstop, that line still has value and he should at least start the season hitting leadoff in a pretty good offense, so the run and steal opportunities will still be there. If he hits as poorly as I think he will though, he might not finish the year at the top of the order. I haven't put together my positional rankings just yet, but Santana should be in the 10-12 range. His 2015 line will probably look a lot like Elvis Andrus' line from 2014, which was 12th best among shortstops. As an OF, I would put him in the 40-45 range, so not nearly as valuable.
On to the man named Kenny that has a superfluous "s" on his name. This big 1B/DH switch-hitter was called straight up from AA to the majors late in 2014, just like Santana. He was called up in August, so he wasn't up as long as Santana, but he gave us at least an idea of what he is capable of. Or did he?
His BABIP was awfully high for a guy with .304 and .303 BABIPs in A and AA. Also, his poor 5.1% walk rate, high 27% strikeout rate, below average 18.6% line drive rate, poor speed and very high ground ball rate (47%) point to a guy headed for some serious regression. Just like I did for Santana, the table below shows his 2015 Steamer projection along with my own projection.
Since Vargas is only a first baseman (at best, since he will almost always play DH), the offensive bar is pretty high for him to be fantasy relevant. I would rank him no higher than 15th, and probably around 20 among first basemen. That's obviously not too useful for most leagues, but he would be an OK corner infielder and he will probably be cheap on draft day, just don't expect to see more of what we saw this year.
Welp, that's the scoop on Santana and Vargas for 2015. Both overachieved in 2014 and are due for regression, but still have some value going forward, just temper your expectations. Feel free to disagree with my takes on these two and let me know in the comments or on Twitter. As my German friends say, Tschus!