CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Like Danny Salazar re-emerging in the starting rotation, Carlos Santana re-surfacing as one of the Indians’ most dangerous hitters would be better than any trade the team could make in the next week.
At least for one day, Santana was the linchpin in the team’s offense, walking in the 5th inning to start a mini-rally and scoring a go-ahead run on Roberto Perez’s RBI double.
The switch-hitter went on to hit a left-handed solo home run to lead off the 7th inning, making it a 4-2 contest, and added the final tally on a homer from the other side in the 8th.
Monday was the eighth two-homer night for Santana in his career and the fourth time he has homered from both sides of the plate in a game.
Depending on who you ask, this is just a common theme in the first baseman’s career.
Manager Terry Francona has always referred to Santana as a second-half player. If all of July qualifies, that assertion may be proving itself true as Santana is not 18-for-54 with 11 RBI in 15 games in July.
“It’s the second half now,” Francona said. “Yeah, that’s good. Because he’s always been that way. He doesn’t wear down. It’s like the more at-bats he gets, the better he is. That’s really welcome because he’ll play a huge part in us going forward.”
Looking at his career as a whole, the numbers back it up. Santana boasts a wRC+ of 130 and .361 wOBA in the second half, with 116 and .342 marks in the first half, respectively.\
In his career year in 2016, Santana saw a jump from 126 to 139 in wRC+ in the second half, while his wOBA went from .362 to .380. The change was more subtle in 2015 with single digit jumps in each category.
In recent memory, 2014 was the most indicative of Santana’s bat waking up, with a 114 to 142 jump in wRC+ and a .335 to .376 jump in wOBA.
What complicates things even further for Santana is his impending free agency, something that the 31-year old admitted affected him at the beginning of the season.
“Right now, I feel much better. Before, I tried too much, I was worried about, ‘I’m a free agent,’ and I tried too much,” Santana said. “So a couple days ago, I thought about it like, try to enjoy [it]. My team, they need me. This is what I’m doing, trying to enjoy it and trying to work hard. I’m working hard every day, but not trying to try too much, put too much pressure on myself. That’s why I have felt much better the last five days.”
If Santana wants to reclaim some of the money he will look to secure in the winter time, he will have to have one of his patented summers, and judging by his past, it will come. But how much?
Fangraphs’ ZiPS projections still expect Santana to finish with 19 home runs, 84 RBI and a .761 OPS.
In order to get there, Santana says he has been relying on the words of a former Indians great.
“Months ago, I talked to Manny Ramirez about the hitting,” he said. “Me and him, we have a good relationship. … He told me, ‘Be patient. It’s a long season.’ We called both [ways]. And he told me something positive. He told me to not worry about the past, worry about the present, [take it] one day at a time.”