Here’s the world’s most obvious baseball fun fact: Carlos Santana hits baseballs really hard. So hard, sometimes, that he becomes a dead-pull hitter and hurts his own offensive production. But for the most part, Santana is a player that hits the baseball hard enough to rack up 30 home runs in a season.
Most batted balls 100 MPH+ last season:— Daren Willman (@darenw) December 18, 2016
Miggy 192 !!
Hosmer 153 https://t.co/3QcX5XceGe
No, not the tweet itself. None of those names should be surprising, especially Miguel Cabrera leading the way. But what’s interesting is the link itself. Willman used Baseball Savant’s Statcast data to find the batters with the most balls blasted at 100 miles per hour or faster in 2016. Closing out the top 10 was none other than Lando Carlossian himself, Carlos Santana.
Santana’s 145 scorching hits with an exit velocity of 100 mph or greater in 2016 were enough to put him ahead of Ian Desmond, Kendrys Morales, Carlos Correa, and Corey Seager among many, many others. He was the hardest-hitting Indians batter by a long shot. You might expect Mike Napoli to be next on the list, but that isn’t actually the case. Jason Kipnis, all the way down at No. 70, is the next Indians to make the cut with 103 balls hit with an exit velocity higher than 100 mph. Francisco Lindor trails him at 101 and then, finally, Mike Napoli comes in with 100 rockets.
Santana’s hardest-hit ball couldn’t have been more anti-climactic, though. On September 10 in the first inning of a losing effort against the Minnesota Twins, Santana hammered a slider thrown from starting pitcher Hector Santiago at 110.4 miles per hour. The result was a single. I tried finding a video highlight, but MLB.tv is being MLB.tv. We’ll just have to take the word of Statcast: Carlos Santana murders baseballs.
Just for giggles, I also wanted to play around with Statcast and see where Carlos ranks while hitting these blistering 100 mph balls in a couple different scenarios.
First, with runners on base, Santana plummets to 44th overall with 50 balls hit 100 mph or harder. The rest of the top 10 from the control list remains mostly the same with this new wrench thrown into the equation. David Ortiz shooting up to second with 79 qualified hits being the only major exception outside of Santana’s drop. Conversely, Santana’s exit velocity thrives with the bases empty. He jumps all the way to fourth with 95, behind only Miguel Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, and Manny Machado. Make of this what you will, but please don’t read too far into it.
There is much more that goes into this than just being “clutch” or having “gittynessosity,” but Santana’s exit velocity dropping like it does isn’t going to help in defending him every time he doesn’t hit a home run with runners on base. Regardless, Santana has and always will hit the ball very, very hard. Now, thanks to Statcast, we have the numbers to prove it.