The World Series brings out the weirdest strategies in baseball sometimes. The latest entry into the museum of weird could be Carlos Santana, catcher-turned-third-baseman-turned-first-baseman-turned-designated-hitter, starting in left field at Wrigley Field in the middle games of the series.
Paul Hoynes was the first person, that I can find, to bring up the idea after seeing Carlos shagging balls in left field yesterday. But it sounded crazy at the time — as good of a hitter as Santana is, athleticism has never been his strong suit, even at first base. But now, Ken Rosenthal is confirming that the Cleveland Indians are at least ‘considering’ the move when the they are playing in a DH-less National League park for games three, four, and five.
#Indians considering Carlos Santana in LF for games at Wrigley. Worked him out at that position yesterday.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 25, 2016
Santana has played exactly four innings in left field in his major-league career. Those came in garbage time during a 14-1 route at the hands of the Boston Red Sox on August 12, 2012. The Red Sox’s starting pitcher that game was current Chicago Cubs Game 1 starter, Jon Lester.
Keeping Santana’s and Mike Napoli’s bats in the lineup is tempting, but the drop-off in defense may just not be worth it. As much as I love Napoli, Santana’s bat is superior enough that I would just start him at first base as needed. Even if Francona’s plan is to platoon Santana and Napoli at first base in Chicago, it would make much more sense to keep Brandon Guyer in left field against the lefty Jon Lester in Game 5 than to shove Santana over there and hope for the best.
If it works, sure. But there’s is an equally distressing probability that Santana loses something in the difficult left field of Wrigley. Indians fans already have enough (unfair) reasons to hate on Carlos Santana, let’s not give them another one.