Kepler has a .280 lifetime minor league average and hasn't even hit AAA yet. He has 41 stolen bases in 6 seasons with 13 sac flies.
Santana has a lifetime .276 minor league average and has played in AAA already. He has 124 stolen bases and 23 sac flies. Hell his MLB average after two seasons is still .278 even after last season.
What about Kepler's one AA season where he virtually had the same average (.322 vs .319) as Santana did in his MLB season prove your "better stick" theory? I think Santana offers more to start the season and runs faster. He also has proven he is capable of providing sac flies when needed. Things may change as May and June roll around.
Are these valid points?
I agree that Santana should start the season on the roster but batting average is basically useless to use in isolation, especially in the case of Danny Santana.
Santana will never repeat his 2014 BABIP, which directly led to that 2014 batting average. Santana swings and misses a lot. He doesn't walk often. He's a flawed hitter who doesn't show the signs you want to see from a hitting prospect.
Kepler, on the other hand, was damned near immaculate last year. He didn't swing and miss. He drew loads of walks. The guy has a refined approach Santana will never replicate. Oh, and Max profiles to hit for modest power as well. In a nutshell, he's everything Danny Santana is not as a hitter.
Santana MiLB BA: .276
Kepler MiLB BA: .280
Well, those are similar, right? Well, maybe not so much...
Santana MiLB OBP: .319
Kepler MiLB OBP: .362
Okay, these players aren't very similar at all. One guy thinks about taking a walk every so often, the other guy goes to the plate with the intent of making the guy on the mound throw pitches.
Santana MiLB SLG: .399
Kepler MiLB SLG: .445 (and a whopping .531 last season)
Yeah, these players are vastly different. The guy who makes the pitcher pitch also punishes the ball when the pitcher fails to execute. And the coup de grace:
Santana MiLB SO: once every 5.47 PAs
Kepler MiLB SO: once every 6.34 PAs (once every 7.65 PAs last season)
This is getting ridiculous. The guy who makes pitchers pitch and tattoos bad pitches also hits the ball when he swings at it. He's looking like a damned fine hitter at this point. The other guy, maybe not so much.
Batting average is a bad statistic in isolation. Kepler is a vastly superior hitter to Santana and trended up in a huge way last season. If Max gets the call to Minnesota, he needs to start every day. Danny Santana is utility fodder and the Twins should treat him as such (which it appears they are doing).