Celebrating Carlos Santana’s Season

In one of the most disappointing stories of the MLB season to date, Cleveland Indians’ catching phenom was put on the 15-day DL with a hyperextended knee and a high-grade LCL sprain. Santana will almost certainly miss a significant amount of time, if not the rest of the season, as high-grade LCL sprains can take up to 12 weeks to heal, and the Indians have no reason to rush Santana back to action given their spot in the cellar of the AL Central.

Even though it has been shortened or even prematurely ended, Carlos Santana’s 2010 season deserves celebration. Santana has been everything we though Matt Wieters would be, producing at a high level both at the plate and behind it. His .383 wOBA leads all AL catchers with at least 150 plate appearances. Putting up that kind of production at catcher is quite remarkable; in under 200 plate appearances prior to his injury, Santana managed 2.0 WAR. He has thrown out 12 of 34 (35%) of baserunners, too. Santana has brought the total package this season.

Of course, crazy things can happen in short samples. What Santana has shown so far, however, has been mastery of the game of strike zone and solid power. Santana’s 19.3% walk rate is easily tops in the majors amongst players with at least 150 PAs, 1.7 points above second place Jason Giambi. His 19.3% strikeout rate is below the league average. That means Santana makes a good amount of contact, and when he does make contact, he makes things happen. His .207 ISO (13 2B, 6 HR) is 141% of league average. The only thing preventing Santana’s wOBA from topping the .400 mark is a .277 BABIP. If that goes up and the peripheral stats remain – certainly not a lock, given the small sample, but a possibility given Santana’s pedigree – we could be looking at one of the best players in Major League Baseball.

This season was only a taste of how good Carlos Santana can be. Hopefully he recovers quickly and can get back to doing what he’s done in 2010, not only for the Cleveland Indians and their fans, but for Major League Baseball as well.

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K% and BB% are some of the first stats to stabilize, and we know he has power–look at those minor league numbers–so I’m willing to go out on a limb and say he’s going to be a very good catcher for years to come. I can’t wait to see his first full season next year.