Reporting Matt Loede
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Indians spent the offseason looking to upgrade a lineup that had major issues scoring runs last season, and appeared to have done so with players like Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds coming aboard.
While those two players will help the Indians and give them legit shots to having two guys that can hit the ball out of the park on every at-bat, a current Indian who may pay off the most with the arrival of new bats is catcher Carlos Santana.
The Indians catcher last season had to put a lot of the pressure on himself to try to drive in runs, but now with new bats in the lineup, Santana can hopefully go back to being more of the player the Indians felt they were getting when he appeared to be turning the corner after the 2011 season.
That 2011 season saw Santana hit 27 homers with 79 runs batted in. He hit just .239, but the Indians were willing to take the good with the bad, and to have a catcher hit nearly 30 homers was an added bonus for a team that needed all the power they could get.
Last season though was somewhat of a disaster for Santana, who spent most of the year trying to claw out of a slump that seemed to start on opening day.
He pushed himself to try to be the home run king in a lineup that didn’t seem to have a lot of protection around him. By the fourth of July, he was hitting just .218, and worse yet had hit just 5 homers with 24 RBI by the holiday.
Then manager Manny Acta, with a lineup heavy in left-handed hitters, had Santana always hitting at or around the four-spot, and he just couldn’t produce as the team wanted and needed him to.
By years end, Santana hit better, rounding out the year with 18 homers and 76 RBI to go along with a .252 average. He started to hit the ball to all fields, and it looked like he finally started to get his swing back.
The Tribe catcher had to be one pumped once he saw the teams pickups of Swisher, Reynolds, and even CF Michael Bourn, three players that should be able to help the lineup produce more base runners.
With those three, it could also allow Terry Francona to move Santana down further in the lineup, instead of having to bat fourth, the catcher could be entrenched at the five or six spot.
The new-look lineup should allow Santana to be able to be a lot more at ease, and if he fails with the batters around him, he will only have himself to blame.
Now at nearing 27 years old, it’s time for Santana to start nearing his prime as a player. It could be a huge year for Santana, and one that combined with the other new bats in the lineup should provide a more potent offense for the Tribe in 2013.