Designated Hitter/First Baseman/Catcher
Acquired: Trade, 7-26-2008:
2013 Salary: $550,000
2014 Contract Status: $3.50M (signed through 2016 with 2017 team option)
It's not often that a player loses his job in the middle of the season while performing at a high level. Carlos Santana was having the best year of his career at the plate, while being more or less the same defensive player he's been his entire career. The Indians certainly weren't looking for a better catcher, and would have been content to have Santana be the everyday catcher the rest of the season. And I think they'd be ok with keeping Santana as the everyday catcher in 2014. But Yan Gomes, who was thought of as a future backup catcher, suddenly started playing like a very good all-around catcher, and the Indians had a very good problem on their hands.
Earlier this week Terry Francona won the AL Manager of the Year award. I would like to think that his decision to make Yan Gomes the starting catcher and move Carlos Santana to DH was the decision that put him over the top in the ballot. Francona could have left well enough alone, citing that Santana hadn't really done anything to lose his job, but he didn't, and more importantly, made sure that all parties accepted the move.
2013 in Review Hub: Your destination for Let's Go Tribe's look at key prospects and players from the Indians in 2013
But this post isn't about Terry Francona, is it? It's about Carlos Santana, who has quietly become one of the American League's best hitters. A switch hitter who hits for power and has very good plate discipline, Santana once again place high in both walks (2nd) and double (7th). Part of his value is the number of pitches he sees in an at-bat. You will rarely see a Carlos Santana at-bat before at least 3 or 4 pitches are thrown, and over the course of a game, one of those lengthy at-bats could mean the difference between Max Scherzer and Jose Veras coming out in the eighth inning. There also isn't much difference between Santana the right-handed batter and Santana the left-handed batter, something that comes in handy late in games. You can't neutralize Santana by bringing in a LOOGY, and so when you bring in one to face Jason Kipnis, you can't leave him out there to face Santana.
This season Santana had one stretch in which he struggled, and that was May. He "only" had an OPS of .661 that month, which barely reaches the threshold of struggling. In August, when just about everyone else was really struggling, Santana hit .240/.354/.448. He hit 20 home runs on the season, with no more than 5 home runs in a single month. Perhaps because of that metronomic season and the fairly low home run totals Santana didn't get a lot of notice. But all the same, he still was one of the key reasons the Indians won 92 games.
Carlos Santana is signed through 2016, and at least for the foreseeable future will be the Indians' main DH, though he'll play some first base as well as catcher. But that shouldn't affect his value to the club. In many ways the Indians are better off with this configuration, as Santana won't be affected by the wear and tear of catching every day.
|162 Game Avg.||162||683||83||37||2||23||103||121||.254||.367||.446||.814||130||254|