Carlos Santana, an Unsung Hero in 2016

skubitz
Jul 5, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians designated hitter Carlos Santana (41) hits a home run during the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 5, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians designated hitter Carlos Santana (41) hits a home run during the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

Carlos Santana has been a constant for the Cleveland Indians throughout the 2016 season. Will his reliable play continue in the ALDS?

The Cleveland Indians traded Casey Blake to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008 in exchange for reliever Jon Meloan and a prospect. That prospect was named Carlos Santana.

Santana made his debut with the Indians in 2010. Cut to 2016 and he remains one of the faces of the team as the Indians prepare for the ALDS matchup against the Boston Red Sox.

During a season when Mike Napoli was considered a great find by the front office for his power, Santana arguably had a better season. In terms of offensive prowess, Santana finished with 34 home runs, the same amount hit by Napoli. He also finished with a .498 slugging percentage, compared to Napoli’s mark of .465. And with an oWAR of 2.9, compared to Napoli’s 1.4, Santana should be heralded as the face of the power hitters on this team.

But there is far more depth to him as a player than his ability to hit home runs. He appeared in a career-high 158 games this year, tying him with Francisco Lindor for the team-high mark. He only appeared in 64 games in the field, but his ability to be a consistent fixture in the lineup for six months is impressive after appearing in at least 143 games per season since 2011.

Then there is his ability to get on base. His 99 walks led the team, as did his .366 on-base percentage. Not bad for a designated hitter/first baseman. His ability to get on base was so great, he often found himself in the leadoff spot throughout the season.

His consistent ability to work counts and keep an at-bat alive has been so great during his tenure in Cleveland, he has almost been taken for granted. Seeing Carlos Santana in a 3-2 count, fouling off several pitches, is nothing to think twice about. It’s just the kind of player he is and always has been.

More from Away Back Gone

So when the ALDS begins and the broadcasters inevitably begin talking about how Napoli provided the Indians with a power hitter the franchise has been desperately seeking for years, don’t forget that Santana has been the quiet hero all season. Kinda like Batman.

The key for Santana to retain this reputation will be to continue being a reliable member of the lineup during the series against the Red Sox. This is a young lineup, so the 30-year-old Santana will be looked to if others begin to struggle. If he does find himself in the leadoff spot, his ability to get on base against the tough pitching could help set the tone for the rest of the lineup.

Next: What the Tribe’s Pitching Staff is Up Against in the ALDS

The playoffs are often unpredictable, but the play of Santana is a constant that Indians fans can look to as the craziness of the MLB postseason gets underway tonight in Cleveland.

facebooktwitterreddit