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Is Hector Santiago good now?

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Hector Santiago is off to a good start, but we will have to see if it continues. Will it?

Oakland Athletics v Minnesota Twins Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

One of the reasons the Twins are 5 games over .500 has been their pitching. It hasn’t been amazing, just 10th in the AL at a 4.10 ERA, but that’s nearly a full run better than their 5.08 mark last year. Today’s starter, Hector Santiago, has been a part of that improvement. Let’s take a look at his stats.

Year ERA FIP xFIP IP
Year ERA FIP xFIP IP
2016 4.70 5.31 5.46 182
2017 2.76 3.80 5.16 42.1

Louie Opatz went into great detail about Hector Santiago's 2016 season here. Go check that out, it's a good read.

I should briefly explain xFIP. It uses the number of home runs he should have given up based on the number of fly balls he allowed and the league home run to fly ball ratio.

Santiago’s xFIP is way above both his ERA and FIP this year. To see why, here is another table.

Year FB% HR/FB% lgHR/FB%
Year FB% HR/FB% lgHR/FB%
2016 50% 12.00% 12.8%
2017 47.2% 5.20% 12.8%
Career 48.60% 10.10%

He’s allowing about the same number of fly balls, but allowing way less home runs (just 3 so far this year). Sometimes a pitcher can control his HR/FB% so it’s slightly lower than average, but not by this much.

So, not much good news there, but maybe his other rate stats will show something good. One last table, I promise:

Year K% BB% BA BABIP WHIP
Year K% BB% BA BABIP WHIP
2016 18.30% 10.10% 0.241 0.260 1.36
2017 17.80% 9.20% 0.213 0.248 1.16
Career 20.3% 10.20% 0.232 0.266 1.32

Walks and strikeouts are both down, which is good and bad. Not much different than his career rates, though. It seems like what’s keeping his ERA down is his low HR and hit rate, which is concerning. Those both should go up, and when they do so will his ERA.

Conclusion time. While Hector has been producing good results, it appears that he’s been lucky so far this season. Mostly, he’s been lucky with respect to his HR/FB rate. I’d expect to see that increase as we get into the season. So, no, Hector Santiago probably isn’t suddenly good now.

Sorry!

All of these stats were from fangraphs.com, so go check them out.