The 2019 Cleveland Indians continue to mire in their substandard play as they lost a series against the Chicago White Sox, 3-1.1 Offense has been the main culprit for most of the season though pitching, defense,2 and bad luck3 have all taken turns during the tumultuous season.
Carlos Santana has been the most consistent bat for the Indians throughout. He began the year hitting for a high average and on-base percentage with a newfound adeptness to using the opposite field to beat the shifted defense often deployed against him.4 Since May, he has traded in some of his average for much more power, while continuing to reach base at an extraordinary clip.5
One of the main complaints about Santana earlier in his career was he could be too patient; passing up potential pitches for power to work the count even if the ultimate result was positive in achieving a walk. Through 2015, the long counts often left Santana susceptible to striking out. He minimized those since and even has as many– or more– walks than strikeouts in three-of-four seasons.
Players with as many– or more– walks than strikeouts and also an isolated power .200 or better are rare. These players also tend to be among the best power hitters in the entire game of baseball. Note: Lowering the walk to strikeout ratio to 90 percent adds Christian Yelich (0.90 walk:strikeout, .410 isolated power) and Michael Brantley (0.90 walk:strikeout, .210 isolated power) to the list.
If Santana continues to put up these phenomenal numbers the hope is some of the young players can advance to supplement his outputs or small trades can be made to plug the obvious holes in the lineup. Regardless, despite the frustrations on the whole, Santana is having a special season.
Interesting statistical oddity about Carlos Santana’s batted ball profile
There is one component of Santana’s batted ball profile that suggests he could become an even more dominant power hitter than he has even shown. Santana ranks No. 13 in all of baseball in percentage of batted balls hit over 95 miles per hour. However, he only ranks No. 135 in batted balls hit both 95 miles per hour and between the optimal range of 10 to 30 degrees off the bat. In layman terms, he is hitting more ground balls and really deep fly balls (some of which become home runs, which is good) than laser line drives.
Santana has shown he has continued to mature as a hitter throughout his career, if he can continue to make adjustments, then it is possible he could have the best power season of his career at age 33.