Unless you’ve watched a Mets game lately, you’ve probably never heard of Omir Santos. Prior to 2009, Santos had only amassed 10 plate appearances in the big leagues, all coming in 2008 with the Baltimore Orioles.
But he’s not exactly a young prospect. Santos has spent parts of 9 seasons toiling away in the Yankees system (spent time in every level from the NY-Penn League to the International League) and is now 28 years old. When Brian Schneider went on the DL earlier this season, the catcher Santos was called up from AAA-Buffalo to back up Ramon Castro.
However, a strange thing happened. In his first start on April 19th, Santos collected two hits. In his next start, another. And another. Then on April 27th, Santos connected on a pitch from Anibal Sanchez and sent the ball into the left field stands for the first ever grand slam in Citi Field history.
Santos was the antithesis of what Met fans had gotten used to out of the catcher’s spot since Piazza’s decline. He ran out groundballs with no regard for creaky catcher’s knees. He was faster than Castro and Schneider both on the bases and behind the plate. To top it off the guy is batting .300 and slugging .500 since his call up and has hit in 3 of 9 ABs with RISP.
But I find it odd how many are fawning over this guy after 42 PAs. I honestly don’t recall anyone bringing up the fact that Omir Santos has never been good as a professional baseball player at any level. His 3 years in A ball produced a .236/.285/.307 line. His 3 seasons in AA was a .257/.297/.360. And 3 more years in AAA showed the same thing: .256/.311/.325. No matter where he went, Omir Santos was a bad hitter.
So which am I going to believe? The 42 PAs he’s gotten so far this year or the 9 years worth of past performances that prove the guy can’t hit professional pitching?
Metsblog.com (the premier site for Mets fans) ran a poll earlier today asking its readers to vote for one of five potential scenarios once Brian Schneider is healthy enough to return. Only 7% of over 4300 voters thought the Mets should send Santos down to AAA, meaning 93% thought that this guy was worthy of at least a bench spot and 13% wanted the Mets to just keep three catchers on the 25-man roster. That’s insanity.
Look, this is one of those situations where I hope the numbers are wrong. I’d be delighted if Santos can keep this up. But if this guy can’t OPS .650 in nearly 2500 PAs in the minors, how can we expect him to do better in the big leagues? I really am glad that Mets fans have found someone they want to root for. God knows that’s been a difficult thing over the past couple years. But I’d suggest that we don’t get our hopes up with Omir because I don’t think it’s in the cards, people.
But lucky for us, we still have Wright, Reyes, Beltran and Santana – all guys who won’t let you down (unless your expectations are just incredibly ridiculous).