2011 A's Retrospective #20: Fautino De Los Santos
The man I call "The Mormon" debuted for Oakland this year, throwing gas (96 mph fastball), whiffing hella dudes (30% of the men he faced), and walking a few more than is ideal (a tad under 12%). He managed all of this by throwing two pitches, the aforementioned fastball that has elite velocity and some sink, but very little horizontal movement, and a curve that comes in quite a bit harder than most curves while still carrying about the same movement.
I'd love to tell you more about de los Santos's PITCHf/x data, but I'm hesitant to without baselines. I have no real idea what to tell you about the whiff rate on de los Santos's curveball. It's probably good, because his whiff rate is above-average overall, but I don't know for sure. At some point, I will overcome the errors and finish setting up my own PITCHf/x database so that I can do the kind of pitch comparisons that I want to do, but that hasn't happened yet.
We'll have to console ourselves knowing that de los Santos's season, which basically proceeded from July 2nd until the end of the year (he was up briefly in June as well, but made only two appearances in the month), continued the clamor among certain A's fans to take away his "closer of the future" label in exchange for "closer of the now." It's hard, or maybe even impossible, to say what the best role for FDLS will be. He's got the talent for a major back-end role one way or the other, and if we're talking about a team that's battling for third place, the order of those roles doesn't matter.
If we're talking about a team that's battling for the playoffs, on the other hand, the order could matter immensely, and one would hope that the manager might accidentally find himself putting his better pitchers in the dirty, no margin, earlier situations. It's possible that De Los Santos's non-elite walk rate will render him a slightly lesser pitcher than others who may come along while his Extreme Velocity and Major Strikeoutage make him seem better than he is, thus slotting him perfectly into the closer role.
Beaneball by Jason Wojciechowski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.