Monday, May 16, 2005

May I temper everyone's expectations for a moment? Yes? Thank you.

Ervin Santana will start for the Lads on Wednesday. I'll admit it; I find this tremendously exciting. It's always a thrill when a ballyhooed prospect makes his major league debut, and Santana has terrific potential.


But bringing him up now starts his arbitration clock, and chances are he's not ready to pitch in the majors right now. His walk rate is .090 walks per batter faced (the AL average last year was around .084, just for some context on what that number means), which is a little bit higher than we'd like to see. Here are how his rate stats compare to the rest of the Texas League (BF is an estimate of Batters Faced [IP x 3 + H + BB]); the last row is how much better Santana is than league average, with 100 being average and higher numbers being better:
               K/BF   BB/BF   HR/BF   H/BF
Ervin Santana .193 .090 .012 .205
Texas League .163 .084 .019 .235
118 93 158 115
So the walks are the only blight on his record thus far. But as good as his performance has been, I don't think it's dominance to the degree that he can be expected to be a quality major league starter right out of the gate.

Of course, there's no one else in the system who looks better. Here's Steven Shell:
               K/BF   BB/BF   HR/BF   H/BF
Steven Shell .163 .093 .035 .233
Texas League .163 .084 .019 .235
100 90 54 101
Chris Bootcheck at AAA:
               K/BF   BB/BF   HR/BF   H/BF
C. Bootcheck .171 .099 .018 .234
The PCL .179 .098 .026 .232
96 99 144 99
So, while Santana is the best choice, let's remember that he's only 22 years old -- he's almost exactly one year younger than Frankie Rodriguez. So we need to temper our expectations ... okay, this whole thing is mostly a reminder to myself. But so be it.

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