Cleveland Indians Season Review: First Baseman Carlos Santana


Reviewing Carlos Santana’s 2015 Season

Cleveland Indians first-baseman-turned-designated-hitter Carlos Santana is an important member of the Tribe’s young core. Given that he is someone the team relies on, his play over the past couple of seasons has been very disappointing. The 2015 season was no different.

This season was supposed to be one that did not just have big expectations for the Indians, but also for Santana. For both the team and the player, the expected success unfortunately did not happen.

Now that he mainly just had to focus on being a first baseman, rather than trying to learn the nuances of third base, it was expected that his level of defensive play would continue to progress. There is no doubt that Santana is not the greatest first baseman, but he also was not a horrible fielder, either. He is an average first baseman, just like many others in the league. He only committed three errors this season and he had a higher fielding percentage than the league average for first base.

Santana is a better offensive player than a defender. Yet, the success he had could have been greater if he was not so inconsistent at the plate. He hit 19 home runs and drove in 85 runs while batting .231. His slash line was .231/.357/.395.

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The result is that it is very frustrating to watch him. He has all the pieces offensively to be one of the best. If Santana is unable to put everything together, nothing will ever change with his offensive game to be more of a complete player.

Santana had various minor injuries throughout the season which affected his play. However, what was not known until the last game of the regular season was that he had a back injury that also affected him nearly the whole season. With that added injury, it is surprising his offensive play was not worse than what it was.

The worst part of Santana’s performance at the plate is the slow first half that he typically has each year. The inconsistency just makes his batting seem that much worse. During the month of June, his batting average was .189. Once he was finally able to get his average above the Mendoza Line, his average continued to drop each month (.271 in July, .248 in August, and .224 for September and October).

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Santana is signed to a very reasonable contract, and there is no one within Cleveland’s organization that is going to replace him this season if he remains with the team. On the other hand, Santana may not even be with the Indians in 2016. It’s possible that Cleveland could include him with a pitcher in a trade for a better hitting first baseman with more power (and preferably a better average).

He would be a target that many teams would be interested in, because while his contract is team-friendly, his inability to get to the next level in his game could keep his price down from what it might have been if he had played with more consistency.

Should a trade not occur involving the first base position, the Indians will again need to rely on Santana. Hopefully in 2016, he comes back and stays healthy all season. That is going to be important, but the biggest key for him would be not having another slow start or inconsistent play throughout the year.

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