The Cleveland Indians offense has sputtered all season long. They have been wildly inconsistent while posting a 31-36 record and they’ve played 33 games, nearly half of their season total, scoring three runs or less – and, worse, they’re just 6-27 in such games.
It has undoubtedly been a strange season for the Tribe, who once had major sports writers projecting the team’s first World Series appearance since 1997.
All the blame certainly does not fall on one guy and, to that point, the Indians have begun addressing their shortfalls by position over the last several weeks. First it was Giovanny Urshela getting the call to replace a slumping Lonnie Chisenhall. Next was Francisco Lindor to replace a horrid Jose Ramirez.
Still, the Tribe’s offense hasn’t responded and still appears to be in need of a significant jumpstart.
Is it possible that necessary jumpstart could come at the expense of Carlos Santana, who was once considered a legitimate middle of the order stalwart for the Indians?
Cleveland relies heavily on production from their switch-hitting first baseman. His increase in performance last season sparked another late-season run that left the Tribe just short of the AL Wild Card.
Right around the time Jason Kipnis was moved into the leadoff spot, Santana made the transition into the No. 2 hole largely because of his high walk totals. He led all of baseball in that category last season with 113 and ranks third with 50 through 60 games this season.
Given his ability to draw walks, one would assume Santana should also be among the league leaders in on-base percentage.
But he isn’t. Not even close.
Santana ranks a mere 38th in baseball with a .361 on-base percentage. While he has done an excellent job of drawing walks yet again, Santana has been atrocious at the plate otherwise. He was supposed to give the Indians a much-needed lift between Kipnis and Michael Brantley, but he has failed to do so in seemingly every aspect.
Now 29 years old, Santana has seen his batting average fall drastically in each of the last three seasons – from .268 in 2013 to a putrid .214 thus far in 2015. He is hitting just .189 over his last 30 games and has shown no real signs of improvement this season.
To top it all off, Santana has been even worse with runners in scoring position this season hitting just .206/.367/.309. His inability to make a valuable contribution after falling down in the count (.085 batting average when he’s behind in the count) leaves the Indians with a serious decision to be made.
Can they afford to stick with Santana much longer?
What do you think Tribe fans?