One of the best things about Statcast is that it gives us something worthwhile to talk about in the first week of the season.
Wins and losses are just as important now as they are in September, but most individual player stats are worthless. You can’t tell much from the single statistic of hit or even a home run besides the fact that they probably hit the ball pretty well. The discussion starts and stops with “this thing happened” in each of those instances. Exit velocity is a whole different monster.
Exit velocity is something that you can use on a case-by-case basis on its own to see what a player is doing — we can say without a shadow of a doubt that Carlos Santana has hit the ball really dang hard in his first few games. He might not for the whole season, but that’s okay. It’s more than just “he hit it,” instead it now becomes “did you see this fuckin guy hit a baseball 112.8 miles per hour, then follow that up with 108.3 miles per hour? Cripes!”
I guess what I’m trying to say is: Our boy is back.
Carlos Santana has made no secret about the fact he loves Cleveland, and is thrilled to be back with the Indians. Call it playing up the fans if you want, but at this year’s fan fest he told eager Tribe fans, “Last year I missed you guys. Right now, I’m so excited to be back to my natural home.” He had some equally rosy comments leading up to his free agency in 2017.
Even after today’s game, where the Indians lost in devastating fashion to the lowly Chicago White Sox, Santana’s bat came through as one of the few bright spots. He told reporters after the game he’s enjoying the game of baseball, when he wasn’t before.
He attributes his hot start to feeling comfortable in both body and mind.
How do you not love him?
Through the Indians’ first five games, Carlos Santana’s bat has been the lone light in the darkness for the Francisco Lindorless Tribe (Hanley Ramirez and his pair of home runs is a distant second). Sample sizes are still extremely small right now, which means it’s easy to do something like take a blanket look at how Carlos has hit every ball that he’s made contact with. So let’s do that.
- 99.8 mph flyout vs. Jose Berrios
- 95.2 mph flyout vs. Jose Berrios
- 111.8 mph single vs. Blake Parker
- 88.2 mph flyout vs. Trevor May
- 76.5 mph pop out vs. Jake Odorizzi
- 83.9 mph groundout vs. Jake Odorizzi
- 112.8 mph double vs. Martin Perez
- 108.3 mph single vs. Martin Perez
- 99.9 mph single vs. Martin Perez
- 102.6 mph single vs. Michael Pineda
- 106.4 mph single vs. Ivan Nova
- 79.0 mph GIDP vs. Ivan Nova
- 110.1 mph single vs. Nate Jones
- 99.4 mph groundout vs. Carlos Rodon
- 81.3 mph flyout vs. Carlos Rodon
- 84.7 mph single vs. Carlos Rodon
Go ahead and file that under “not bad.”
In the March 31 game — a loss to the Twins — Santana held the mark for the four hardest-hit balls among Indians batters. That speaks to be how bad the Indians lineup is, sure, but it also shows the kind of great contact that Slamtana is making now that he’s back where he feels the most comfortable.
Entering play today, Santana ranked sixth in average exit velocity at 97 miles per hour, and fifth in hard hit percentage at 66.7 percent. Similar to the dearly departed Yandy Diaz, though, Santana’s launch angle could use a boost as it sits at 10.2 heading into today (and his .500 batting average on balls in play probably isn’t going to stand forever).
still, for this one fun little metric, in the silliest time of the year, Carlos Santana is doing something really, really well. Let’s enjoy that for a minute.