Peter Bendix of Beyond the Box Score wrote an in-depth look at the premature demise of Johan Santana. Bendix’ post goes into great depth comparing his 2008 statistics versus prior years. There are several problems that I have with the analysis though:
- The author compares his current season performance averages versus complete prior year averages. Specifically, his strikeout rate and walk rate are compared to complete prior seasons. Santana is a notorious second half pitcher. Bendix’ comparisons should be made to the first 18 starts of past seasons or first 121 innings of past seasons for a more relative conclusion.
- Velocity of fastball and changeup are compared to prior seasons. The importance of velocity is debatable in my mind. As long as a relative difference in velocity is maintained between fastball and changeup, that’s what’s important. In the post-steroid era pitchers should be expected to lose velocity as they near 30 years old and beyond. The Mets knew they weren’t getting the 25 year old Santana with 265 K’s when they traded for him.
If you’ve read this blog in the past you know that I’m not down on Santana like some Mets fans are. Remember Carlos Beltran’s first season with the Mets in 2005? His line was: .266 BA| 16 HR| 78 RBI| 17 SB. We were all questioning 7 year/$119 million contract and whether he was a “New York guy”. Well, he responded in 2006 with this line: .275 BA| 41 HR| 116 RBI| 18 SB. That’s a “New York guy” in my book.
Bendix does a deep dive into Santana’s stats nicely but he fails to mention a few stats that would contradict his theory. Santana is on pace to give up fewer home runs than last season, has a lower ERA than his career average, and his 2008 WHIP of 1.192 is barely higher than his career WHIP of 1.103.
The point is that evaluating someone on half a season that’s been playing for nine years may not be the best sample size to utilize. Sure, his record is 7-7 but that’s hardly the best statistic to use to evaluate a pitcher’s performance as some Mets fans have. Give it time, Santana will be more than fine. He’ll be here until 2013 (or club option for 2014) so he has plenty of time to prove his worth.