So he's not on the Twins anymore, but I still have a soft spot for him. I check to see how he does in each start and I'm certainly rooting for him to continue his dominance. But yesterday, I came across an interesting story on ESPN.com by Buster Olney; it was an insider article, so I couldn't read most of it, but the premise was that his velocity and overall stuff was way down from what it was with the Twins.
On the surface, he is doing pretty well this year. He's 5-3 with a 3.36 ERA. While not the best in the league, those numbers are good, and Santana historically comes on in the second half of the season. But going a little deeper, it may not be as good. His K/BB and K/9 are way down and his H/9 is way up. Here are his worst previous performances in each category (since 2004 when he became a full-fledged starter), his averages from 2004-2007, and this year's stats:
K/BB: 4.52, 4.96, 3.87
K/9: 9.25, 9.70, 7.79
H/9: 7.52, 6.95, 8.60
In each case, he is nowhere near his averages and, in fact, not even close to his worst season thus far. It's not too far into the season and Santana does normally come on strong in the second half, but I would definitely be worried if I were a Mets fan. Combine this year's start with last year's finish and I'd get even more concerned. Even if he continues to produce at this level, which is good for a normal pitcher, there is no way he is worth all that money. For what he's being paid, they really need Santana to return to the form that he showed from 2004 to 2007.
A few other stats that are way behind even his career worsts: OBP against, SLG against, and WHIP. .292 versus .273, .434 versus .405, and 1.18 versus 1.07. The one positive is that his walk rate has remained about the same. While I consider myself a Santana fan, and I'd like to see him return to his former self, there would be some relief in seeing him decline. It's almost like a win-win situation. If he does well, I'll be happy because I like him as a player, but if he does poorly, I'll be happy the Twins got what they did for him.
Time will tell. Perhaps I'll end up looking back at this post (and Buster Olney's article) as being completely ridiculous. We'll just have to wait and see.