Week 2 Persons of Interest: Six Seasons and a Movie Edition


Welcome to Fighting Chance Fantasy’s Week 2 Fantasy Baseball Persons of Interest. I’m relatively new to the site, and I swear everything broken that I knocked over was that way when I got here. If you like Fantasy Baseball analysis with a little bit of humor/catharsis thrown in, then maybe I’m your guy.

During the Fantasy Baseball season, I write weekly columns about players that have caught my attention for one reason or another. It can be a player on a hot/cold streak, a top prospect promotion, a historical performance, an injury, etc. You get the idea. Some of these guys might be on the waiver wire in your league, some of the might be universally owned. It just needs to be interesting. Kind of like Jake Taylor putting a positive light on Rick Vaughn making the local radio station’s Hall of Shame: “I thought you had to do something good to be a celebrity. Not if you do it colorfully.”

In addition to Fantasy Baseball, I extensively use books, movies, and tv as welcome respites from adult responsibility. When I write about Fantasy Baseball, I like to introduce topics with quotes from pop culture sources I find entertaining. That’s where I got the title for the column. If you’ve never seen it, Person of Interest was a great tv show.

If you know what “six seasons and a movie” means, then you know that I went with Community for this year’s inaugural column. If you don’t what know “six seasons and a movie” means or that Annie’s Boobs is the name of a monkey, then you probably haven’t seen Community. It was a tv show that ran for five seasons on NBC and then one season on Yahoo Screen (you may have to look that up) from 2009-2015.

In my opinion, it’s one of the funniest and most original tv shows ever. “Six seasons and a movie” became the rallying cry of Community’s fans when the show was perpetually on the verge of cancellation. In an episode during Community’s second season, one character (Abed) becomes obsessed with a new superhero show on NBC called “The Cape.” This tv show really did exist, I swear. Another character gets annoyed because Abed knocks over his lunch with a cape and says “that show’s gonna last three weeks!” Abed then responds: “Six seasons and a movie!” Actually, the Cape lasted seven weeks.

Ironically enough, Community got six seasons. I’m still waiting for the movie. You’ll find there’s no middle ground when it comes to Community. You either get it, or you don’t. You either think it’s hilarious and even genius at times, or you think it’s a bunch of disturbed characters making incomprehensible references and generally being assholes. And that’s ok. No matter what your opinion, you can’t watch Community and think “I’ve seen that done before.” And that’s a rare thing in the modern-day tv/movie world where pretty much everything is an adaptation, remake, reboot, “reimagining,” prequel, or sequel.

You can also say the same thing about Fantasy Baseball. You either get it or you don’t. To some, spending weeks or months doing research and draft prep is enjoyable and fun. Others view it like Judd Nelson in the Breakfast Club: “So it’s kinda social. Demented and sad, but social.” Everybody’s got their own thing, and if you’re reading this then I’m guessing Fantasy Baseball is at least partially yours. Welcome to the club.

The first week of the MLB season is in the books, and I decided to look at some players who had dynamite spring trainings and have kept it going into the regular season. Makes sense to me, anyway. After each player is introduced, I am listing their spring training stats and their stats through week 1 of the regular season. Keeping in mind it’s a smaller sample size than Harrison Ford’s cameo in Apocalypse Now, let’s get started with the Fantasy Baseball Persons of Interest.

2019 Week 2 Persons of Interest

Person of Interest No. 1: “Vengeance? Ha! I was never one to hold grudges, Jeffrey. My father held grudges. I'll always hate him for that.”

Domingo Santana, OF, Seattle Mariners

Spring Training Stats: .393 AVG/7 R/4 HR/9 RBI/0 SB (12 Games)

Stats Through April 7: .311 AVG/10 R/4 HR/15 RBI/3 SB (11 Games)

That quote is what you call irony. If you’re into verbal tomfoolery and sometimes incredibly dark humor, then Community is for you. The quote fits here because if there’s anyone nursing a grudge against the world in baseball this season, it’s Domingo Santana.

You want an example of how professional baseball is a total “what have you done for me lately” business? Try going from a 30 HR/15 SB breakout guy to getting demoted to AAA in less than a year. That’s what happened to Domingo Santana.

Domingo Santana was signed by the Phillies as an international free agent in 2009 when he was 16 years-old. He was traded to the Astros in 2011, and then to the Brewers on July 30, 2015. Although he missed most of 2016 with injuries, he still finished with a .256 AVG/34 R/11 HR/32 RBI/2 SB stat line in 77 MLB games.

In 2017, Domingo Santana won a starting OF spot with the Brewers in spring training and never looked back. Grabbing him off the waiver wire early that season probably contributed to more than a few Fantasy Baseball championships. Domingo Santana finished 2017 with an impressive .278 AVG/88 R/30 HR/85 RBI/15 SB line in 151 games.

Unfortunately, Domingo Santana’s 2018 started about as well as the debut of the Shockmaster. If you didn’t get that, I’m writing this WrestleMania weekend and I have to throw in a pro wrestling reference somewhere. If you know about pro wrestling and you still don’t get it, look up the Shockmaster on the interweb. Go ahead, I’ll wait. You can always use a good laugh.

Domingo Santana, however, probably wasn’t laughing heading into the 2018 season. After his breakout 2017, the Brewers sent what you might call “mixed signals.” In January of 2018, the Brewers traded for Christian Yelich. The very next day, the Brewers signed Lorenzo Cain in free agency. Combined with Ryan Braun’s immovable contract, the Brewers’ outfield had become the Nation of Domination, and Domingo Santana was Faarooq. You can decide who was the Rock. I promise I don’t normally make tons of wrestling references, but it’s WrestleMania.

As you can imagine, Domingo Santana struggled with the transition from breakout star to fourth-OF/sometimes-DH in interleague play. It’s not like he did anything to lose his job; he was just collateral damage from the Brewers’ offseason OF upgrade. He was demoted to AAA in June and not recalled until September. Domingo Santana finished 2018 with a .265 AVG/21 R/5 HR/20 RBI/1 SB stat line in 85 MLB games. Ouch.

In December of 2018, the Brewers traded Domingo Santana to the Mariners for Ben Gamel and Noah Zavolas. Domingo Santana probably felt like Ed Monix in Semi-Pro when he got traded for the Flint Tropics’ washing machine. Of course, the Tropics really did need that washing machine so it was a tough call.

The trade, however, gave Domingo Santana a shot at real playing time with the Mariners. In spring training this year, he made sure he had a job. He stole the spring training show for the Mariners like Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage stole the show at WrestleMania III.

His performance immediately carried over into the regular season, including a Grand Slam in the season’s opening game in Japan. It’s baseball cliché to say that a player “just needed a change of scenery” to explain improved performance. There’s a reason, however, that clichés exist. Having stable playing time is a good thing.  

Before the hype train hits ludicrous speed, however, don’t forget that Domingo Santana will strike out. A lot. He’s never had a season with a 70% contact rate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to kill your AVG. In 2017, he hit .278 with 178 Ks. Just don’t bank on him staying at .300 all season.

If Domingo Santana’s at the plate, odds are it’s going to be an HR, a BB, or a K. Like it or not, that’s baseball today. I will forego the standard “in my day” rant, because it just makes me feel old. Still, when he does make contact it’s going somewhere fast.

Domingo Santana is still just 26, and his skills are real. As he showed in 2017, he can put up the numbers when he gets the ABs. If he’s somehow still out there in your league (84% owned in Yahoo and 91% in ESPN), sprint to the waiver wire right now. Don’t worry; I’ll be here when you get back.

Person of Interest No. 2: “People can connect with anything. We can sympathize with a pencil, we can forgive a shark, and we can give Ben Affleck an Academy Award for screenwriting.”

Chris Paddack, SP, San Diego Padres

Spring Training Stats: 3-1/1.76 ERA/1.11 WHIP/24 K (15.1 IP)

Stats Through April 7: 0-0/1.04 ERA/0.92 WHIP/11 K (8.2 IP)

After Daredevil, who would’ve thought that Ban Affleck would make a credible Batman? He was just about the least-objectionable thing in Batman vs. Superman. It’s not as impressive as Chris Evans as Captain America after Johnny Storm or Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool after Green Lantern, but it deserves recognition.

Anyway, like the quote above, Fantasy Baseball owners always find prospects to connect with during spring training. You all know the drill; you read about a prospect over the winter or during your draft prep, the prospect dominates spring training, and you think you’ve found the next superstar you can steal at the draft. Sound familiar? If you say no, you’re either lying or haven’t played enough Fantasy Baseball.

I’m guessing Chris Paddack was that prospect this year for a whole bunch of people. In 2018, he put up video game numbers between A and AA with a combined 7-3/2.10 ERA/0.82 WHIP/120 K stat line in 90 IP. You can see why people might get excited. With those spring training stats above, you can see why he was rocketing up draft boards.

Of course, there was some concern that Chris Paddack would start 2019 in the minors no matter how he performed in spring training. Considering he’d never pitched above AA and doesn’t turn 24 until 2020, he was a prime candidate to get service-timed. I mean he’d be “working on things” in the minors until he was ready to perform at the Major League level. Surely no one is suggesting that MLB teams are using the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement to their economic advantage? These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along.

I’m guessing the Manny Machado signing changed the Padres’ plans. It’s a New Day in San Diego, yes is it. I think I’ve gotten all the wrestling references out of my system now. And congrats to Kofi Kingston. Hard work and perseverance really do pay off. As for the Padres, they’ve just kicked open their competitive window, and they need to know what they’ve got.

Although Chris Paddack has looked good in his first two regular season starts, there’s a lot of uncertainty with rookie pitchers. Kind of like an episode of The Office. There are moments of absolute brilliance combined with moments where you just cringe at the awkwardness.

Looking at Chris Paddack’s skills, however, he might be less volatile than the typical rookie pitcher. His changeup is his out pitch (described as the best in the minors in 2018), and he has tremendous fastball command. In 177.2 career IP in the minors, Chris Paddack posted a K/BB ratio of 230/20. That’s serious control. He had 4 BBs in his last start, but some of that can probably be chalked up to residual nerves from going straight from AA to MLB.

I think the bigger issue is an innings limit/per-game pitch count. He missed all of 2017 with Tommy John surgery, and only had 90 IP last season. In his first start on March 31, he was lifted after 79 pitches. In his second start on April 6, he was gone after 89 pitches. I’m not sure how much farther the Padres will go with him. Of course, anything could happen if the Padres are competitive all season. Don’t be shocked, however, if Chris Paddack is not around for the Fantasy Baseball playoffs.

That doesn’t mean you should be ignoring him. Chris Paddack is currently owned in 60% of ESPN leagues and 79% of Yahoo leagues, and the skills are for real. If you need SP help, you should be giving Chris Paddack serious consideration if he’s available. Just be prepared for some rookie ups-and-downs and that he might not be there in September. But you can enjoy the good times as long as they last, and Chris Paddack should have more good (and great) times than bad.

 

Those are the Fantasy Baseball 2019 Week 2 Persons of Interest. No matter how your teams performed last week, remember we’re less than 10% into the season. It’s way too early to panic or gloat. Like crowd reactions at the Raw after WrestleMania, you don’t want to draw too many conclusions. Sorry, I just had to work that last one in there.

Until next time, it’s all in the reflexes.


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