Once there were five innings in the books Tuesday night at Progressive Field, Carlos Santana had officially become only the 29th player to appear in 1000 games for the Cleveland Indians. That's only more notable than playing in 998 games or 1002 games because humans are fond of round numbers, but almost everyone reading this is a human, so I'm taking a moment to observe this achievement.
If you know much about baseball history, you won't be surprised to hear that playing 1000 or more games for one team used to be a more common occurrence. Of the 29 players who've done it for the Indians, 20 of them began playing for the Tribe in 1949 or earlier, including the franchise leader in games played, Terry Turner, who played in 1,619 games for the team, but is probably unknown to most Tribe fans because the last of those games came in 1918. Among players who joined the Indians after 1949, the nine to appear in 1,000+ games are Rick Manning, Andre Thornton, Julio Franco, Brook Jacoby, Jim Thome, Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, Travis Hafner, and now Santana. (Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis could each join the group next season, if they stay healthy.)
Among those 29 there are six Hall of Famers: Nap Lajoie, Lou Boudreau, Tris Speaker, Joe Sewell, Earl Averill, and Larry Doby. (Thome is likely to join that group before long, and Vizquel and Lofton each have a shot too, though Kenny's chances seem pretty slim.)
It's good company, but Santana has been an object of scorn for many Tribe fans during his career. Why? Some of it is his .247 batting average, some of it is that despite having hit twice as many home runs for the Indians as anyone else this decade, he somehow hasn't hit enough home runs.
Santana ranks 12th in franchise history for home runs, and 8th in walks. It's true that his batting average is among the lowest of the 29 Indians with 1000+ games, but his on-base percentage, slugging, OPS, and wRC+ are all rank among the top half for that group. He's one of the 20 best hitters in franchise history.
Plus, he looks good holding a blaster:
"You truly belong here with us among the clouds."
Santana's contract is up at the end of the season. There were reportedly talks during spring training about an extension, but there's a good chance this will be his last season with the Indians. I hope you'll join me in appreciating the man.