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Anthony Santander deserves All-Star bid

Anthony Santander powers Orioles in June

HOUSTON – Before an athlete like Anthony Santander begins a season, he’ll usually write down certain goals to achieve. Baseball players can note winning a Gold Glove, make it to the playoffs, or lead a team in a certain hitting category.

Although Santander has never appeared in an All-Star Game, the seven-year veteran never set a goal to make the All-Star Game.

“It’s a tough game that we don’t control our results,” Santander said. “I always have the mindset to come everyday ready to play hard, and help my team win. If it’s God’s plan, then I’m gonna be grateful to be a part of the All-Star Game.”

Santander ranks fifth among American League outfielders with 321,333 votes for the 2024 All-Star Game. The Yankees’ Aaron Judge (1,366,315) and Juan Soto (1,252,020) lead the AL outfielders while Astros’ Kyle Tucker (593,358) and Guardians’ Steven Kwan (464, 274) rank behind them. 

The native of Margarita, Venezuela, started off slow to begin the season. In May, Santander batted .207 with 17 hits, five home runs, 11 RBIs, and 20 strikeouts. He slugged .415 and carried a .708 OPS.

The switch-hitting outfielder currently has a -0.7 Fastball Runs Average (wFA). The last time he posted a negative number on Fastball Runs Average was in 2019 with a -3.9 wFA.

Anthony Santander adjusts

In addition, Major League Baseball added the new “Bat Tracking” statistic on baseball savant.

Santander, as a left-handed hitter, has an average bat speed of 72.4 mph with a 30.3 percent fast-swing rate. On the right side, he has an average bat speed of 74.4 mph with a 47.3 percent fast-swing rate. The league’s average bat speed is 75 mph.

Anthony Santander, 29, made an adjustment in late May and has found success in June.

“Stick with my routine,” he said on his offensive approach. “Being able to work and be on time on the fastball in June it gave me the chance to recognize the off-speed pitches and try not to chase a lot that I was doing early in the season.

“I was chasing a lot because I was late on the fastball, but I feel good right now. I think that’s been the key to just sticking with my routine and just keep working.”

In June, Santander is hitting .300 with 24 hits, 11 home runs, 22 RBIs, and 14 strikeouts. He’s also slugging .738 with a 1.090 OPS.

The Venezuelan slugger leads MLB with 11 home runs this month. Santander is one homer shy from tying Manny Machado’s 11 home runs in a single month set in 2017. The franchise’s record for home runs in a single month is by Jim Gentile, who hit 15 in August 1961.

Switch-hitting improvement

“He’s been pitched a certain way,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said of Santander. “He flat out made the adjustment back to the league, and then got going. Now he’s covered up some holes that’s hard to pitch to from both sides of the plate. 

“He’s had a great year from the right side all year, but on the left side of the plate he is really on time of the fastball. He’s hitting mistakes really well. He has been unbelievable for us in June this year. It’s pretty cool what he’s doing right now.”

Anthony Santander has proved he’s capable of being on the same list as some of the star-studded outfielders in this league. Defensively, Santander carries a .992 fielding percentage with 129 putouts, two assists, and only one error.

Agua Blanca doesn’t pay close attention to the All-Star results. Nonetheless, if Santander’s awarded his first All-Star bid, he’ll cherish the moment with his family.

“It’s something that I’m going to be proud of if I’m going to be able to go to the All-Star Game and make my family proud,” Santander said. “That’s something really cool. But for now we just come here, work, and be able to help my team win, which is the most important thing.”

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