Cleveland Indians: Who Should Hit Behind Edwin Encarnacion?

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Oct 14, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion (10) hits a single against the Cleveland Indians in the third inning in game one of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 14, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion (10) hits a single against the Cleveland Indians in the third inning in game one of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nov 2, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians designated hitter Carlos Santana hits a RBI single against the Chicago Cubs in the third inning in game seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 2, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians designated hitter Carlos Santana hits a RBI single against the Chicago Cubs in the third inning in game seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana and Encarnacion are going to be linked together for as long as the two play on the same team. They are going to bounce back and forth between first base and designated hitter, and the two could also form a dangerous duo in the middle of the Tribe’s lineup.

Santana has proven that he can hit at the top or in the middle of the lineup. He hit in both spots throughout 2016 and found success in both spots.

The experiment of Santana batting leadoff in 2016 was wildly successful. Santana batted .260 as the leadoff hitter in 86 games. He drew 67 walks and struck out just 60 times. However, Santana was equally as productive from the five-spot, albeit with a smaller sample size.

In 59 games batting fifth, Santana batted .259. He had in 37 RBI and struck out just 30 times. He also hit 12 home runs from the five-spot.

While it may not sound like an appealing job, Santana could thrive cleaning up Encarnacion’s leftovers. He also provides a powerful alternative if Encarnacion does not get the job done. On top of that, Santana is the best power threat behind Encarnacion that could scare opposing teams from pitching around Encarnacion.

Santana’s batting metrics are slightly lower from the fifth spot in the lineup compared to the leadoff spot, but the intangible aspect could be enough to get him there every day.

Even if he is not there every day, expect Santana to see ample time hitting fifth again this season.

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