Over at the Lo Hud Yankees Blog, Peter Abraham this evening penned a piece with which we here at RAB clearly agree. Abraham wrote that the Yankees should just say no to Johan Santana.
Of course, we believe that. Hell, we’re even selling t-shirts for just that purpose.
But in the course of his argument, Abraham strays a bit from his analysis. He writes: “Santana could be great again. But he was 15-13, 3.33 last season and will be 29 in March.”
Now, as far as my reading of this statement goes, Abraham’s use of the “but” indicates that Johan Santana was not great in 2007 because he won only two more games than he lost. It’s a classic sportswriters mistake. Johan Santana didn’t win more games because the Twins’ offense was terrible. They were 25th in runs scored and 27th in team OPS.
Despite this poor offensive production, Johan Santana still managed to win 15 games. But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s look at some of the other stats the once-great Johan Santana put up. His 3.33 ERA was 7th overall in the American League, trailing John Lackey by 0.31 runs. His 1.07 WHIP was tops in the AL, and his 235 strike outs trailed Scott Kazmir by just four. His strike out-to-walk ratio was 4.52, good for fourth in the American League.
In a word, Johan Santana in 2007 was great.
Now, there are plenty of reasons — starting with Phil Hughes and ending with the luxury tax issues — for the Yankees to avoid a trade of Johan Santana right now. And if his agent were smart, he’d tell Santana to stay healthy for another year and cash in during a full-fledged bidding war in 2008. But we shouldn’t start pretending that Johan Santana wasn’t great in 2007 because of a poor won-loss record. Make no mistake about it: Johan Santana is one of the top pitchers in the American League. Stick him on the Yankees or the Red Sox, and his 2007 line would probably feature 20+ wins and another Cy Young Award. Greatness, indeed.