Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Johan Santana scares me. I remember how excited I was when we traded virtually nothing and got the best pitcher in baseball. Say what you will about the Minaya era but it was always fun to enter each hot stove season wondering what huge, impact signing we would make. Now I just don't know if I believe anymore. When I wrote The Dickey Report last month, I didn't even consider Santana as part of next years rotation because part of me doesn't believe he is coming back yet. Some reports say he is back on track to be the opening day starter (which is BS anyway, Dickey should get that spot) and some say he might not be as ready as people think he is. Either way it's a guy who hasn't pitched since 2010 and whose fastball and changeup are creeping ever closer to one another.
The upside is, the guy has never had a bad year since his stuff kicked in ten years ago. Since 2002 the highest ERA he has ever posted was 3.33 and a FIP of 3.79. So far he has given no evidence he his capable of pitching poorly. Fangraphs.com has a Bill James projection of him that predicts another solid Santana year - 189 innings pitched, a strikeout rate of almost 9 K/9 and a 3.19 ERA. I am a numbers guy and the numbers say I should believe.
That being said he is an injury prone pitcher entering his age 33 season. A graph of his WAR would show a clear decline with a high of 7.4 in 2004 and trending back down more each year. Maybe it has just been too long, maybe I am just becoming a Mets cynic, but I remain very worried about Johan.