Naturally - Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
Ramon Santiago had an abysmal 2012 season, barely clearing the Mendoza line at the plate. After returning to the Dominican Winter League this offseason (he didn't play there before 2012), Santiago hopes to rebound in 2013.
What happened last year?
Santiago's .206 batting average, .253 wOBA, and .555 OPS were the lowest of his career in "full" seasons (by Santiago's standards). The sneaky power didn't show up as much as usual either; Santiago's .066 ISO was his lowest since 2010. His BABIP was lower than normal, but I'm hesitant to say that he was particularly unlucky, as I remember a fair number of weak at bats from Santiago throughout the season.
Santiago's normally solid glove also failed him in 2012. He played most of his innings at second base, where he wasn't much worse than normal. However, his advanced statistics in 139 innings at shortstop* were far below his career norms.
*Serious sample size issue here, but then again, everything Ramon does is a small sample size.
What needs to happen in 2013?
Simply put: everything needs to be better. While he will be competing with Jeff Kobernus and Danny Worth for playing time, Santiago's role is more set in stone than it was last year at this time, when there was a cluster of guys competing for the starting second base job. Would he be the starter? Would he be a utility guy? What would happen with Inge in the mix? This year, it's simple: either Santiago plays well and is the utility guy, or he doesn't play well and, well... doesn't play. His ability to hit left-handed -- both Worth and Kobernus are righties -- should give him a leg up during the spring.
2012 stats and 2013 projections
The part where I predict pretty much the same thing Bill James does
Santiago didn't play in the Dominican Winter League prior to the 2012 season, marking the first time in his career that he skipped a winter season. Was it a coincidence that 2012 was the worst season of his professional career? Possibly, but Jim Leyland didn't take that chance. Leyland was adamant that Santiago play winter ball this offseason, and Razor Ramon has responded by hitting in the .330 range. Will this translate to the big leagues a la Andy Dirks in 2012? I doubt it, but we will definitely see an uptick in production from Santiago this season.