How do I love thee, Carlos Santana?

A sad day approaches. The sun shall remain steady in rising from the East and the stars shall continue their seasonal dance across the night sky unabated. However, the captivating joy from the brightness of the day alongside the twinkling spectacle of the dark horizon promises to be dulled by the absence of Carlos Santana in a Cleveland Indians uniform as the 2017 MLB season is the last of his contractual obligation to the Northcoast.

The melancholy of future morn have yet to come to their realization. For on this day, Santana remains a chief member of the Land’s illustrious Tribe. Rather than fret about an unsolidified tomorrow, a determination must be made to fully appreciate and enjoy the moments left in the present.

There also arises the possibility of the climatic scene providing a payoff 69 years in the making. The potential last season of Santana wearing the red, white, and blue of the Indians falls in line with a ballclub as loaded as any in the 216 since Bob Feller, Larry Doby, and Lou Boudreau donned the kits. The 2016 World Series championship that was lost in Game 7 extra innings could be won anew as Santana’s final act.

Reasons some Indians fans have refused to embrace Carlos Santana:

  • Replaced a beloved player in Victor Martinez
  • Hot rookie streak offset expectations
  • Defensive struggles and shifting positions early in career
  • Knee injury and concussions
  • Even mythbusting didn’t convince some of statistical prowess

Much ink has been spilled and millions of electrons rearranged in attempts to explain why some have held hostage their willingness to love Carlos Santana. Their reasoning draws as blank as the walls they build in attempts to harden their hearts.

The upcoming 2017 season is not for the detractors. The time for feeble attempts to hoist these poor, unfortunate souls out of the depths of their own demise has drawn to a close. There is simply not enough time left for any of it to be wasted on those who refuse to see joy even as it rests beside them.

In the stead of any such debate should be time spent in full appreciation of the wonderful blessing it has been and continues to be to watch such an amazing player ply his trade.

Consistent Excellence

stats courtesy of fangraphs and baseball-reference

The steady beat of raindrops on the ground slowly accumulate into a puddle. The puddle overflows into a stream, which becomes a river dumping into a lake should the rain continue. Each individual raindrop is seemingly insignificant, but the constant of the rain keeps the entire world from dying of thirst. Such has been the career of Santana.

The starting rotation has Corey Kluber. Pitching three consecutive seasons with a FIP of 3.26 or better on at least 215 innings and registering 225 strikeouts is a feat worthy of finishing in the Top 10 of the AL Cy Young Award voting each year. Such excellence is hailed throughout the baseball universe as is the consistency with which it has been obtained. Because baseball, randomness denies all but the luminaries of the sport to be such persistent purveyors of statistical dominance.

The lineup has the irreplaceable Santana.

courtesy of baseball-reference play index search

Only seven hitters in all of MLB have been as consistently great as Santana. The list is filled with players known by their monikers as much as their full names. Uttering Big Papi, EE, Cutch, Miggy, Goldy, and Trout bring to mind visions of reliable excellence in a wholly unreliable sport. Santana, MLB’s most under-rated hitter, has not quite hit the heights of the others on this list but the steady beat of his raindrops remains an impressive feat.1

That Santana’s steady navigation at the plate has come amidst an ever-changing tide of responsibilities in the field has made the accomplishment all the more admirable.2 Fear of failure often subsiding to a willingness to bolster areas of weakness on the team. Santana has been called catcher, third baseman, first baseman, designated hitter, and even a left fielder. His defense has not been rudderless. Much work has been done to evolve his defensive work at first base from an eye sore to one that was noticeably out-playing Mike Napoli in 2016. The numbers match what was noticed visually as his UZR/150 has risen over the six years he has played the position (-8.8, 4.8, -16.8, -0.9, 5.3, 4.6) culminating in manager Terry Francona’s assertion that Santana will own the majority defensive share of first base in 2017.3

All-Time Indians status

ranks courtesy of baseball-reference

Santana has become a Top 25 hitter in the 116 year history of the Cleveland Indians franchise with a chance to be argued into the Top 20 by years end. Ghosts of the past shape the perceptions of our present yet somehow the historical calls have been but whispers about him.

Nay. These proclamations need to be shouted. A higher WAR (and oWAR and OPS+) than Victor Martinez! More runs scored than Rocky Colavito and Shoeless Joe Jackson, more RBIs than Jim Hegan and Grady Sizemore! More doubles than Julio Franco and Larry Doby, as many home runs as Joe Carter! Higher win probability added (WPA) than the “clutch” Roberto Alomar and David Justice!

Last Word
Santana has been through everything with the Indians. His promotion to MLB was as the Tribe was embroiled in a dark period of revamping their entire system from drafting to player development to how they ran day-to-day operations. Santana provided fans much-needed hope for the future during that 46 game stint in 2011.

Fittingly, the everlasting image of the 2016 Cleveland Indians postseason shall forever be Carlos Santana falling to his knees as he catches the last out of the penultimate series. The quest for a championship remains though the possibility still exists of Santana satisfying that thirst as his farewell.4


Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote the sonnet How do I love thee. However, since it was written in the years just before baseball was born, it could use a bit of a sprucing up, which I am apt to do here.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways
I love thee home runs center and left and right
My soul is full, ball traveling out of sight
Slamtana swing mighty and full of grace
I love thee to the level of bleacher’s raise
Most quiet walk, no need for fruitless flight
I love thee freely, saunter to first with delight
I love thee purely, eye doth not cease to amaze
I love thee joy on diamond to amuse
No time for grief, around bases roundtrip
I love thee pointed skywards, praise full enthuse
to Him above rightly for skills he did equip
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall love thee better after a ‘ship

Other 2017 Cleveland Indians Preview Articles

  1. Even expanding the parameters of the search to include just players who have hit 3.0 bWAR with an OPS+ of 120 makes only 14 players total on the list of those who have done so at least four times in the past six seasons. Adding the Bill James PwrSpd combination stat shrinks the list to just Santana, Trout, and Cutch. []
  2. Adding a note here that Santana has also improved greatly as a baserunner. []
  3. Important to note that the 4.8 is from the 2012 season when he only played 128 innings at first base. Extremely small sample size there. He was not a positive defensive force at that time. []
  4. Yes, Carlos Santana could return to the Indians in 2018. I hope that he does. However, the rising payroll due to young players and veterans who have succeeded obtaining more money makes the possibility seem remote. Perhaps a World Series championship might provide the necessary funds for the innovative front office to find a way. []

  • jpftribe

    So you’re saying we should dump him before the trade deadline?

  • Hopwin

    Replaced a beloved player in Victor Martinez
    Hot rookie streak offset expectations
    Defensive struggles and shifting positions early in career
    Knee injury and concussions
    Even mythbusting didn’t convince some of statistical prowess

    Resident Santana-hater provides the following counter-arguments.

    Also I fixed this for you:
    Defensive struggles and shifting positions early in career that continue in perpetuity. Can’t catch, can’t third-base and can’t first-base. Shows promise in left-field.

  • Saggy

    it’s news to me because I’ve always liked Santana. I didn’t realize there was this bevy of negative feelings toward him.

  • Saggy

    Plays in the AL so doesn’t really need to third-base, catch, or first-base.

  • Hopwin

    But we keep putting him there…

  • mgbode

    It has been a constant. He is the most controversial player to love/hate on the Indians in my lifetime (as I don’t think enough people hated David Justice for him to count).

    Anyway, no time for that anymore. Just going to watch and appreciate.

  • mgbode

    Yawn. No time to argue anymore Hopwin. I’d appreciate your counter arguments in sonnet form though.

  • mgbode

    He’s actually pretty good at first base now. But, either you are gonna love him or not. Last year (probably), so last chance.

  • mgbode

    You mean for “the next Carlos Santana” ?

  • Hopwin

    No time for sonnets, here is your haiku

    Carlos Santana
    stinks in the field, on the bags,
    and in the clutch too.

  • CBiscuit

    Poor Bode:( He beats his breast and professes his love, and in your drunken best man speech, you roast the love of his life…haha. Savage!

  • mgbode

    An acceptable compromise even if the content is pure trash 🙂

  • Natedawg86


  • Hopwin

    Your beloved stats would paint you a liar sir 😉

    From FanGraphs:
    Last year Santana received a +1 ranking in defensive runs saved in 556 2/3 innings at first base. In 2015, he received a -5 ranking in 1,157 innings at first. For his career he received a -8 at first base.

  • Hopwin

    In all fairness, the harder I am on Carlos the better he performs to prove me wrong and with this being a contract year I feel like I need to up the h8.

  • mgbode

    Oh, beloved Hop. Let’s add some context to this as first base is a negative defensive position by most stats in the first place.

    Carlos Santana, 2016 AL best defensive rating 1B:

    Drops to 4th in UZR/150 (still seems good)

  • mgbode

    Great, so we are in agreement that we already have the next Carlos Santana in our system and therefore do not need to trade the current Carlos Santana. Now, let’s go out there and win a World Series.

  • Hopwin

    Must we continue to speak in such aerie tones? I find it taxes my spirit and renders me most weary.

    Alas, if we must, we must and I shall endure…

    Carlos Santana’s positive outcome last year was both the only positive and less than half-time. Shall we drone on now about the dangers of sample sizes?

  • Eric G

    That got weird, fast.

    My only begrudge on Santana is the fact that he doesn’t walk up to “Oye Como Va” every. single. time.

  • CBiscuit

    Well whatever works is good by me. Can you please write some hit pieces on the Browns (all of them to be safe)? Thanks!

  • Hopwin

    I’ve been trying with the Browns since they drafted Mingo (same season we stopped buying season tickets) but that franchise seems intractably mired in poop.

  • mgbode

    Drone on?


  • Hopwin
  • scripty

    I remember Santana once leaving his sunglasses atop his hat, and dropped a pop out near first due to the sun. I’ll never forget Hammy’s controlled rage on the radio.

  • Steve

    I’m thinking Diaz. Mejia shouldn’t just be able to stay at C (though I guess Santana could have too without the ACL tear and concussions), but there are expectations for some great defense from him there.

    Meanwhile, they seem intent on pushing Diaz down the defensive spectrum, so much so that I think he is going to be Santana’s replacement next year. Dude already controls the strike zone like a seasoned pro, he will be frustrating fans with his walks for years.

  • Natedawg86

    That would be great. I am looking forward to seeing him more this year though. Although not seeing him may mean that everyone else is doing well.

  • scripty

    The local’s angst over Santana’s walks is 2nd rate to Reds fans over Votto’s walk rate

  • JNeids
  • tsm

    I was absolutely convinced he was going to lead off the bottom of the 9th in game 7 with a HR, which would liver forever as the greatest moment in Tribe history. Alas, it was not to be.

  • mgbode

    I thought Kipnis just for the “Chicago kid” storyline that would follow. Sigh.

  • mgbode

    Weird is what I do.

  • mgbode

    Still waiting for your contribution…

  • JNeids
  • Elizabethvhilliard

    Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj297d:
    On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
    ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash297HomeServerGetPay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★:::::!mj297d:….,……

  • Hopwin
  • thotecrecl

    <-I profited $104000 in last twelve months by freelancing online a­n­d I was able to do it by work­ing part-time for 3 or sometimes more h daily. I was following a money making model I was introduced by this company i found online and I am excited that i earned so much extra income. It's newbie-friendly a­n­d I am just so grateful that I found out about it. Here’s what I did… ➤➤➤➤ www,TrendingWorkHighPay,Com