I've had a few of my friends, some of them Twins fans, ask me how I could watch continue watching the Twins with any regularity. My response is always the same, "there are some good young kids who I want to watch". At times I barely believe the words coming out of my mouth, for example, when those young kids are a struggling Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia or Kyle Gibson.
But for the past two months, I've been able to say it with conviction because of Danny Santana. He's young, he hits and boy can he run. 61 games into his major league career he's hitting .331/.369/.483 and as that line suggests it's not an empty, Ben Revere-esque batting average - Santana has been hitting the ball hard. Despite playing in roughly half the team's games, Santana has hit 15 doubles, 3 triples and 5 home runs - good for 5th on the team in extra base hits (1 more than both Arcia or Mauer despite fewer plate appearances).
It's plenty exciting to watch a 23 year old switch hitter have success hitting in the majors even if that's all he's doing. But the most exciting part of watching Danny play is what happens after he hits the ball. Singles stretch to doubles and doubles stretch to triples. Pitchers spend time worrying about him on basepaths and then he steals anyway. He's bringing a kind of excitement to the field Twins' fans haven't seen since Christian Guzman.
Speaking of Guzman, I think he is an excellent model of what we should hope to expect out of Danny Santana in his career as a Twin. Over his career, Guzman hit .271/.307/.383 and averaged 27 doubles, 10 triples, 7 home runs and 14 stolen bases per 162 games. Some years were better and some years were worse, obviously, so don't get me wrong and say that's anyone's absolute maximum production. Further, Guzman provided average to slightly above average defense at shortstop - something today's Twins sorely lack. I think we should all be very satisfied if he can mimic Guzman and make two all-star games in his career.
Right now we're seeing Danny Santana play completely out of position at center field but he will have to move back to shortstop eventually. He is a horrendous outfielder, rarely making good reads on flyouts and misses cut-off men regularly. However, all reports are that he's a very good shortstop with a cannon arm. If he can provide that strong defense along with his flashy production on offense, Santana should be an important part of Minnesota's future plans and a great reason for us to keep watching.