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Key Stats: Both the ERA and FIP were over 5.00 last season for Ervin Santana. No matter how you perceive statistics, he was far from a top 15 pitcher in 2009 when MLB.com, ESPN, Yahoo, CBS and Fox all predicted he would be a top 15 pitcher. Before selling your shares low on Santana in 2010, remember that in his 2007 season he also had an ERA and a FIP over 5.00. In 2008 he bounced back to be a top 50 overall player. The stuff is still somewhere there as it only seems like he has been around forever (he turns 27 in December). Much like Rafael Soriano, the biggest question that potential Santana owners want to know is will the elbow hold up?

Skeptics Say: Given how different his 2008 and 2009 seasons were one of the expected results is that the strikeout rate would go down. Santana’s K/9 went down by 1.9 batters which is an alarming rate. His average fastball lost over 2 MPH and was considered below average according to Fangraphs by a wide margin. Not surprisingly, batters were making much more contact off of Santana last season (80% last season versus 77% in 2008). He was drafted to be the kind of pitcher on a staff who could carry the team in four categories for a month, but given how important strikeouts are to his game if he isn’t striking hitters out he isn’t contributing to any categories.

Peer Comparison: Santana’s drop from the high K ranks was not as noticable or significant as his teammate’s Scott Kamir. Kazmir was always a great K/9 guy including in 2008 when he had a 9.81 rate. Last season that tumbled to 7.15. Both Kazmir and Santana were much better in the second half of last season so there is some hope on the surface that they can bounce back.

Kazmir 2nd Half: 3.27 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
Santana 2nd Half: 3.90 ERA 1.30 WHIP

The problem is that neither pitcher flashed the old K rate during their better half. Santana had a little less than 7 strikeouts per 9 innings and Kazmir was just barely over 7 strikeouts per 9 innings.

Ultimately Santana is ranked ahead of Kazmir both pitchers who are going to be in their 20s for a few more seasons are mysteriously in decline. Kazmir is not ranked in my top 150 because his Yahoo rank has now fallen four straight seasons whereas Santana is still just one year removed from being one of the nastier pitchers in baseball.

Team Outlook: While the Angels are still in contact with Chone Figgins, he is also being pursued by both the Phillies and Mets. Where he winds up will make a difference to the character of what the Angels stand for as a team. His loss likely leads to an increase in Santana’s losses. On the flip side if the Halos can sign Adrian Beltre who is a terrific fielder it would really help Santana’s ERA and WHIP.

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #68 Starting Pitcher; ESPN.com: #198 Overall; Yahoo: #59 Starting Pitcher and #235 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #226 Overall; FB 365: #53 Overall

Projection: The numbers here aren’t that high, but Santana is worth a gamble at this time in a draft in case he finds himself.
13 wins 4.40 ERA 1.34 WHIP 142K in 172 innings

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