Kirby Puckett

Kirby Puckett

Friday, August 22, 2014

Santana and Vargas: The Hypeless Buxton and Sano

     The last few years, the only discussion on Twins fans minds has been Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. From the Sports Illustrated article referring to them as, "the next Trout and Harper," to just general buzz wherever they go. Things were looking up, but, as usual with the Twins lately, they quickly crashed to the ground. It came out that Sano would have to have Tommy John Surgery during spring training, and at the end of it, Buxton injured his wrist which stunted his development before coming back rusty, being awful, and suffering a horrific concussion last week. So much for this season.
     But, as the old saying goes, "When two prospects have disappointing and injury filled seasons, two more make you feel optimistic," Ok, maybe that's not the exact quote, but it's pretty dang close. Coincidently, what's happening with the Twins fits that expression perfectly. With Buxton and Sano down, shortstop/centerfielder Danny Santana and first baseman Kennys Vargas have arrived.
     We'll start with Santana: The 5' 11" 175 pound speedster got called up on May fifth and has made an immediate impact by posting .315/.350/.461 splits with 12 stolen bases along with his great fielding wherever he plays. He's also shown surprising consistency for an inexperienced player. In his 68 games this year, he's gotten a hit in 50 of them.
     His hitting spreads to the rest of the Twins lineup as well.   A few weeks ago, I noticed that whenever Twins collectively had a good day at the plate, Santana was always in the middle of it. I'm not just talking a hit either, he would always explode on those days for multiple hits. I checked the stats, and sure enough, Santana has a .387 batting average in wins, second among active players on the team, only behind Suzuki, whose average is .388.
     Don't forget, he's doing all of this while learning a new position. In the minor leagues he played 25 total games in center field, only two of which came after 2012. Now he's in the big leagues and making throws like this. The future's bright up the middle.
     Vargas is the physical opposite of Santana. The first baseman has six inches and 100 pounds on Danny at 6'5" 275. He has considerably less service time than Santana, as he was called up on August first. Although his size and frame make him seem like a classic Adam Dunn type power hitter, he plays like a smaller person. A third of his hits this year have gone to the opposite field, which means since he already does it, there's no chance for the Twins stupid philosophy to screw him up. He's a decent fielder at first, another unusual trait in big men.
     Of course, just because Sano and Buxton are having disappointing seasons doesn't mean they'll be busts. I'm just using Vargas and Santana as an example and a reason this season hasn't been a total bust. Sano and Buxton will be up in a few years. And with a top of the order of Buxton-Santana-Vargas-Sano, as Dan Gladden would say, It's gonna be fun.

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