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Dynasty Building Blocks, Bargain Spotlight: Hector Santiago

I’d like to start my very first post with The Dynasty Guru by telling everyone a little about myself. I’ve been playing this great game of fantasy baseball for a little over a decade, mainly focusing on 16-20 team dynasty leagues. All of them with a wide range of settings, from head-to-head categories and points leagues, to salary cap and contract leagues, to anywhere from 15-25 keepers, and each of these leagues has had a range of 15-40 minor league players per team. Besides fantasy baseball, one of my other main hobbies is scouting minor league players, I don’t do it professionally but i enjoy doing it nonetheless. So my hope is that my experience and outlook on fantasy baseball and player values can help other owners with their leagues. Now enough about me, let’s get right to the good stuff.

I will be working on a series here for TDG called Dynasty Building Blocks. The first part of this series will be 6 sections called Bargain Spotlight. l will be highlighting one player from each MLB division that is currently owned in less than 20% of ESPN leagues and that is, in my opinion, undervalued in dynasty formats. This can be for a variety of reasons, those of which I will cover in my posts.

AL Central Bargain Spotlight

Hector Santiago Team: CHW Pos: LHP Age: 25

Santiago was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 30th round of the 2006 First Year Player draft. He spent 2007 through 2010 working his way up to the High-A level of the organization, working primarily as a reliever (only 1 game started during that span), but those numbers can be a bit deceiving. In 2011, he was transitioned to a starting role full time and had 26 GS while working his way from High-A to Triple-A in 2012. As the numbers below show, he demonstrated considerable growth to match his progression through the minors. His FIP was higher as a starter, but that can be expected seeing as it was his first go round as a starter and he was facing much tougher competition at the higher levels.

Reliever Starter
215.2 IP 142.0 IP
193 H/ 108 BB (1.40 WHIP) 118 H/ 60 BB (1.25 WHIP)
88 ER (3.67 ERA) 51 ER (3.23 ERA)
4.5 BB/9 & 10.35 K/9 3.8 BB/9 & 8.23 K/9
FIP- 3.07 FIP- 3.64

In 2011 he was promoted for a small cup of coffee but really made an impact with the White Sox in 2012. Prior to the 2012 season, John Sickels wrote the following about Hector Santiago;

“Santiago was an anonymous minor league lefty with a low-90s fastball, a decent curve, and a mixed performance record entering 2011. He learned a screwball in the 2010 Puerto Rican Winter League, then moved to the starting rotation in High-A and was quite impressive. He continued to pitch well after moving up to Double-A, then received a spot on the 40-man roster and a brief trial in Chicago. Santiago has generated some excitement amongst White Sox fans. The screwball certainly makes him interesting, and he’s got enough zip on the fastball to keep hitters honest. If he throws strikes, he has a shot as either a fourth starter or a bullpen asset.”

At the time of this article being written he has pitched 193.1 innings across 72 games in his major league career, 21 of those games were as a starter and 51 were in relief, so let’s split those numbers up and see what we have.

Reliever Starter
74.2 IP 118.2 IP
60 H/ 44 BB (1.39 WHIP) 94 H/ 56 BB (1.26 WHIP)
30 ER (3.62 ERA) 40 ER (3.03 ERA)
5.3 BB/9 & 8.44 K/9 4.2 BB/9 & 9.85 K/9
FIP- 4.83 FIP- 4.18

As you can see from his progression through the minors and his time in the majors, he is slowly developing into a quality #4 starting pitcher for a major league team. He has been bounced around between the bullpen and the starting rotation this season, but has recorded 12 straight starts since June 9th. In those 12 games, he has a 2-3 record with 7 QS, 9.1 K/9, 3.38 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. His FIP is a little blown up (4.42) because he has had some trouble keeping the ball in the park. He’s been able to hold opposing hitters to a .216 BAA as a starter in the majors. He has only 2 out of those 12 outings where he gave up more than 3 ER, which makes his record deceiving because he averages only 3.51 runs in support during his starts. He has had a handful of no decisions that were actually a W for him that the bullpen blew.

I like Santiago moving forward as a solid buy low option in dynasty leagues. He may even be available on your league’s waiver wire (4.6% owned on ESPN). For a low purchase price he could turn into a solid #4 fantasy starter for you, and someone you can use as a trade chip down the road. I also like that he pounds the zone with a heavy 92-95 mph FB and keeps his 92 mph sinker down against right handed hitters. He also uses a mid-80’s change-up outside against righties. This is important for his development because he has given up 12 of his 14 HR this year to right handed hitters. He needs to keep the ball down in the zone and produce more ground balls in order to keep the home runs down (35.2 GB% & 43.8 FB%). Investing in Santiago will come with its bumps but it can also pay off quite nicely for you if he continues a high strikeout pace and progresses even further to start the 2014 season.

Blueprint:

If he is available on your league’s waiver wire, I’d add him now and use him as a streaming option the rest of the 2013 season, with the intention to keep him for 2014 and trade him next summer to a contender that needs a #4 fantasy starting pitcher. If he is not available on the waiver wire, I’d try and trade for him during the off-season, for a low purchase price, with the same intention to trade him once his value goes up next summer. For teams that are building a roster from the ground up, he is a quality piece that can net you a mid-level prospect or maybe more in a trade. This plan would take a bit of time to let him perform well enough to increase his value, but at such a low price, the return could be substantial.

The Author

Andy Barnes

Andy Barnes

6 Comments

  1. Oddity
    August 18, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Would be a great pickup, but in a real deep league. He’s long been grabbed up. And the stats he is putting up don’t allow him to be traded for as cheap as one would hope.

    In a slightly less deep league, great possible add tho!

    • August 19, 2013 at 7:46 am

      You are correct, he’s already rostered in all of my leagues, but he’s someone I feel can be targeted in the offseason. Id try to use him as an add on piece or filler when I make a larger trade. So I can get him at a lower price and reap the return benefits when he progresses more next season.

  2. james
    August 19, 2013 at 6:35 am

    my only complaint, fantasy #4 starters and real life #4 starters are very different. In fantasy an average league has 12 teams, so a #4 starter is still a top 50 player, in real life there are 30 teams, so top 120 range. He has the ability to be which. Sickles was saying top 120, then you changed terms to go top 50….

    Since you play in all leagues deeper than me (i normally do 12-14 team dynasties) the difference is very real to me .

    • August 19, 2013 at 7:43 am

      Great point James, I’m glad you brought it up. I made sure to word this portion carefully. I stated that he could turn into a fantasy #4 (top 75) in a deep league. He’d be more of a spot starter in a 12-14 team league with the possibility for more value as he progresses. So as streaming option where you monitor his matchup, I still like him in your leagues. But for now, I don’t see him as much more than that. He’s definitely someone I would target in next year’s draft though.

  3. jim g
    August 19, 2013 at 11:14 am

    the problem with hector Santiago is he doesn’t have any real elite pitches and if you’re gonna buy a back of the rotation starting pitcher, you should probably be after one with more upside. i’ll take a Brandon morrow over hector Santiago every day of the week. (morrow 25% & hector @ 50% in CBS. whereas ESPN has morrow at 20% and hector at 8%?! ((wtf espn?)))

    hector has a career avg 80% LOB rate, which is about 10% above league avg and a 37% career GB rate, which is about 7-10% under league avg. the 80% LOB seems unsustainable, especially with Santiago’s high bb rate (4.5/9) and predilection for giving up homers.
    Santiago seems like one of those guys who is due to come down to earth at some point. the k rate has already started to level off a bit. once the LOB comes down, he’ll be barely worth a roster spot.

    • August 21, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      I think comparing Morrow and Santiago is way off base. Normally, when a pitcher has at least one plus pitch, and control of two average pitchers we can slot in at the #3 spot in a rotation. With Santiago lacking that Plus pitch as you’ve mentioned i don’t see his ceiling being much more than a #4 starter, however that’s not the point. For a low purchase price right now, there is a chance that he can up his game and bring you a solid return in trade next summer. If he doesn’t pan out no worries, because the chance didn’t cost you much. It’s all about gaining value and making smart moves to build up your dynasty team, i’m in no way saying to invest your entire future on him, merely saying that his value is depressed right now because of his HR tendencies, but some of the underlying numbers show that he could turn out to be a top 75 type fantasy pitcher, if he matures on the mound. that value is a lot higher than what you could acquire him for now. So the question is, are you willing to invest in him at a low price and gamble that he pays off next summer?

      Not everyone is going to agree with the bargain spotlight players, which is completely fine. I’m here to shed light on guys that might be going overlooked. That’s all. What you chose to do with the information is up to you. If I had a team that i was rebuilding, and was scouring the waiver wire for players with possibly more value next summer, Santiago is one guy that I’d snatch up.

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