Every team needs a Danny Santana. A guy who can play just about anywhere, play it well defensively—or well enough for Rangers standards—and hits while doing it.
He was part of the holy trinity of good fortune the Rangers uncovered in 2019, along with Lance Lynn and Hunter Pence. Of all the misses this team has had over the years shopping in the bargain bin, they hit it big last year.
Santana was proof that spring training stats don’t matter. He tore it up last year. But still he didn’t make the team coming out of spring.
But, by mid-April, the Rangers had so many underperformers in so many positions like Patrick Wisdom, and Logan Forsythe, and Asdrubal Cabrera, and Nomar Mazara, and of course, The Human Underperformer Rougned Odor, that the Rangers couldn’t ignore Santana any more. It was that or they had nothing to lose.
Santana hit the ground hitting. He played second, first, center, short, left, right, even third. Filling in everywhere there was a hole. And there were plenty of holes.
At the All-Star break, he was batting .300 with an OPS of .848. He could have been an All-Star if fans would have known which position to vote him in for.
While his batting average slipped in the second half, his production didn’t. He hit 19 home runs and 53 RBIs after the break and easily could have been Comeback Player of the year.
Because he came back from oblivion. He had pretty much played himself out of major league baseball, having made it into just 15 games for the Braves in 2018 before being released with his Odorian .179 average and 54 OPS+.
But the Rangers took a gamble on him, dusted off the cobwebs, gave him an opportunity and he made the most of it.
All that rewarded him with what seems like will be the starting centerfield job for the Texas Rangers in 2020. It’s the position he’s played most throughout his career.
The Rangers have so many offensive holes in so many other places that he could eventually move somewhere else if they get another centerfielder. Gallo played a lot of center last year but he won’t be there this year. And only Scott Heineman and Nick Solak are the other centerfielders on the current 40-man. So it looks like it’s Santana’s.
Even if last year was a fluke, he is an upgrade over Delino DeShields. So, the Rangers are better in center than they were a year ago. There’s that.