Monday, May 8, 2017

Real Or Pretender?

Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson, USA Today Sports
It seems like the baseball season just began. But by the end of the week, the Twins will have completed over 20% of their schedule. 

Following Monday's off-day, the Twins sit in a cluster at the top of the AL Central. Besides Kansas City, the rest of the division is separated by a mere 2.0 games. Cleveland might start to separate itself from the pack but for the most part, the AL Central was mired in mediocrity throughout April.

If the Twins are going to stay in the playoff race, there are plenty of pieces that will need to fall into place. Each player mentioned below is going to need to decide if they are really playing up to their full potential or if they are pretending to be something they can't sustain. 

So you make the call.. Are they real or pretenders? 

Miguel Sano
Sano is off to a torrid start at the plate and he has shown some strong defensive skills at third base. Entering play on Monday, he only trailed Mike Trout and Aaron Judge in the American League WAR standings. He's also hitting the ball with authority. According to MLB's Statcast data, Sano is leading the big leagues in average exit velocity. One has to worry about the Sano that slumped during his sophomore season. He wasn't able to draw as many walks and his power wasn't as regular as his rookie campaign. However, the 24-year old slugger seems primed to make his mark this season. RESULT: REAL

Ervin Santana
Santana ran into his first hiccup on Sunday after nearly a perfect month of April. Even after allowing a season high six runs, his ERA only rose to 1.72. It seems highly unlikely for Santana to be able to sustain this level of the course of an entire season. His best ERA total for any season was 3.24 and he has a career ERA north of 4.00. He leads both leagues with a 0.79 WHIP while allowing 4.0 hits per nine. His career hits per nine average is more than twice his total this season and he has a career 1.27 WHIP. Santana might not turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight but there's no way he can be this good for all of 2017. RESULT: PRETENDER

Brian Dozier
After a record breaking 2016 season, Dozier hasn't exactly set the world on fire to start 2017. His batting average is down to .229 but he is getting on base over 32% of the time. Dozier ranks second on the team with four home runs and he has a team leading six stolen bases. He ranks in the bottom half of AL when it comes to WAR for second basemen. There's nothing stopping Dozier from going on another hot streak as the season progresses. However, it seems more likely that he will be back to the .245/.320/.440 career hitter while averaging 23 home runs. This is the real version of Dozier even after his monster 2016 season. RESULT: REAL

Hector Santiago
While Santana has been getting a lot of pitching headlines, Santiago is quietly off to a great start. He ranks 13th in the AL in ERA and 16th in WHIP. He's pitched his entire seven year career in the AL and never posted an ERA under 3.33. He's striking out fewer batters per nine innings but he's also walking fewer batters and keeping the ball in the park. As a 29-year old, he has been part of three different organizations and he has been traded twice. He might be a veteran coming into his own or he could be taking advantage of some early struggles from opposing hitters. RESULT: THE JURY IS STILL OUT

So who gets your vote for being real or being a pretender? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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