The Cleveland Indians are off to a 6-3 start in the 2019 season, including a four-game weekend sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Cleveland was- more or less- expected to get off to a slow start on offense with Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis missing time and with new faces in the outfield.
Jose Ramirez and Jake Bauers have two RBI and two doubles. Tyler Naquin has played better at home this past week. Hanley Ramirez has two homeruns; Kevin Plawecki has one.
Not one player has above a .195 batting average.
Except for Carlos Santana, where he is sitting at .419.
In his homecoming to Cleveland, Santana has played in all nine games, getting 13 hits, seven runs, 18 RBI, and one homerun- a walk-off blast on Friday evening.
He owns a .486 on base percentage and a .581 slugging percentage.
Santana’s hot start is exactly what the Indians needed to start the season.
He is known to get off to a bit of a slow start at the plate the past few seasons. Last year in Philadelphia, his batting average did not reach .200 until May 23. Additionally, Santana totaled 13 hits in the entire month of April (over 15 games). Through nine games this season, Santana has 13 hits.
In 2017, his average was in the low .200’s until July.
The Dominican’s contributions have been much needed for Cleveland in the early going.
The outfield has been shaky at the plate to start. Leonys Martin is 4-27 with 13 strikeouts. Greg Allen is 1-20. Bauers is 5-26.
In 51 plate appearances, Hanley Ramirez and Eric Stamets have combined for 24 strikeouts.
His hot start will have to keep up in order for the Indians to have continued success in the early part of the campaign.
Even with being three games above .500, Cleveland is averaging just 3.3 runs per game. That number is going to be hard to continually win games with (with the starting staff Cleveland has, that number will keep them in plenty of games).
But that number will and should increase with Lindor and Kipnis back. Getting Carlos Gonzalez into the lineup everyday could help that average, too (he is still a few weeks out, though).
In the meantime, Santana will have to keep up his hot start. He has been getting clutch hits, like his walk off homer, and is able to knock in baserunners early in the game, as he did on Sunday.
In fact, six of his eight RBI have come with runners in scoring position with two outs. While teams are shifting for him by putting three players on the right side of the infield, he is staying on the ball and pulling it to the opposite field. Him being able to use the whole field makes him more dangerous at the plate.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) April 7, 2019
This is on top of Santana’s good patience at the dish that comes with a high walk rate and a high on base percentage.
The trade bringing Santana back to Cleveland has paid off through nine games. Hopefully that change of scenery stays positive through the summer and into the fall.