July 23, 2014

About Carlos Santana’s Consistency

(All statistics in this article are since Carlos Santana was acquired by the Cleveland Indians organization along with Jon Meloan from Los Angeles for Casey Blake in July 2008)

Many people on this site and others have continuously praised catcher Carlos Santana’s hitting since the Indians acquired him nearly two years ago. The 24-year-old out of the Dominican Republic is one best prospects in baseball despite still being a work-in-process behind the plate. Offensively, he is one of the best in the business and is certainly not letting people down in 2010.

One of the best things that people cite about his hitting approach is his consistency. From at bat to at bat, or game to game, Santana always finds a way to get on base and help his team. Using my statistical powers, I’ll now quantify his run-producing consistency over the course of his 186 games in the Indians organization.

When Cleveland traded for Santana, he was tearing up the hitting-crazed California League in the Dodgers organization and eventually won league MVP despite playing just 99 games there. He then transitioned beautifully into the usually pitching-heavy Carolina League before spending the final few days of the season in Akron. He played for the Aeros in all of 2009, winning another MVP award and now is in Columbus to start this season.

As Jon Steiner wrote not too long ago, it is incredibly difficult to accurately equate minor league performance to major league statistics. There are tools that exist around the web (here) but there are way too many variables between Single-A, Double-A, Triple-A and the majors to properly calculate. In this analysis, I’m not going to try to do that but otherwise focus on his numbers at hand.

What I did is I compiled all 186 games of his Indians organizational career. I treated all of these games as equal, with no fancy equivalent calculations or anything else, as a way of analyzing his true consistency. With these 186 games, I then made a corresponding 177 sets of 10-games, all of the possible streaks in his career in the system.

Let’s start here with a distribution breakdown of these 10-game sets:

Percentile – Avg – OBP – SLUG – OPS

min 0.167 0.293 0.242 0.584
10% 0.206 0.338 0.346 0.720
20% 0.229 0.364 0.400 0.798
30% 0.249 0.390 0.444 0.851
40% 0.267 0.407 0.492 0.889
50% 0.294 0.421 0.529 0.927
60% 0.314 0.444 0.565 0.992
70% 0.344 0.459 0.614 1.063
80% 0.363 0.478 0.665 1.123
90% 0.400 0.500 0.764 1.219
max 0.452 0.553 1.000 1.500

Usually when talking about baseball, an OPS of .800 is generally considered the breaking point for a good hitter. What this shows is that in only 20% of Santana’s 10-game sets has his OPS been below that level. It also proves that Santana’s on-base percentage stays consistent while he will generally deviate more in batting average or slugging.

His minimum OPS in a 10-game set is .584, something that is right about where Lou Marson stands this season. Santana’s median performance is amazing with a batting average of .294 and an OPS of .927. As I’ll get to in a moment here, those numbers are staggering for a catcher, let alone one who is only 24 years old. Just as likely to occur as his sub-.800 OPS however is a plus-1.100 OPS, rivaling that of Albert Pujols in MLB.

Continuing with these comparisons, it is interesting to note how amazing these numbers really are for Santana. How bad is his worst 10-game set in the Indians system? How good are his average or media numbers in comparison to the average for MLB catchers?

Take a look here at this sampling of more comparisons to Santana:

Name – Avg – OBP – SLUG – OPS

Carlos Santana 0.300 0.421 0.543 0.963
Joe Mauer 0.327 0.408 0.484 0.892
Victor Martinez 0.297 0.370 0.462 0.831
MLB 08-10 Average 0.263 0.333 0.416 0.749
MLB 08-10 C Average 0.255 0.324 0.393 0.717

The numbers for Santana above are his total stats in his 186 games in the Indians organization. Over the course of these games, he has a 45 point higher average, 97 point higher OBP and 140 point higher SLUG than the average MLB catcher over the past two and a half seasons. Santana’s OPS is actually greater than both Joe Mauer and Victor Martinez in their major league careers as well.

Look one more time at Santana’s 10% mark in the percentile stats above. He has an OPS of .720 there, still higher than the average for an MLB catcher over this time period. At an extreme worst 10-game set, Santana’s performance in the minors for Cleveland has then echoed that of an average MLB catcher offensively. At an average 10-game set, he is the best hitting catcher in baseball. At even the 80% range, he is the best hitter in MLB overall.

Hopefully it will only be a matter of weeks before Santana makes his mark at Progressive Field. Based on these stats, it’s looking even better that he’ll be a star from day one.

(Image via WFNY/DP)

  • http://waitingfornextyear BAJ22

    Wow!! Interesting and exciting information!!

    Thanks Jacob!!

  • Tommy

    Take a look at Matt Wieters though. That guy had better Minor League numbers than almost anyone in the history of the game, particularly at C, and his immediate returns after making the big leagues have been respectable but far from epic. I’m not questioning his eventual star power, only saying that rarely do prospects make the type of immediate impact of Ryan Braun proportions.

    Santana’s approach and patience at the plate make me think he will indeed be able to contribute right away, but lets not question this guy if he comes up and doesn’t hit 325/400/500 right off the bat.

  • Tommy

    Thanks for getting my mind off the Cavs for the moment though haha. The Tribe farm system is definately something to be excited about.

  • Harv 21

    New Tribe marketing campaign: “Hang in there, Santana’s service time will be running before you know it.”

  • The Conductor

    It’s hard to get excited about Santana….They won’t promote him b/c they want to save the arbitration money.

    Another reason I’m so over the Indians….

  • DC Tribe fan

    of course they want to save their arbitration money! The same way the Nationals are treating Strasburg, and Storen for that matter. Holding Strasburg back until June has been estimated to save the Nats $20M over the long haul. Santana’s number MAY be just as big as that, but even if it’s $10M, why would the Tribe blow that amount of money, in what is (no matter what you call it) a rebuilding year for a small market team. You’ll see him play plenty, just not til June or so. Relax, enjoy the wait.

  • 5KMD

    Conductor,

    If you aren’t cool with arbitration clock management then you should definitely stop following the Indians and start rooting for the big boys. There is no other way for the smaller markets to compete, especially in a year like the Tribe will have this year.

  • The Conductor

    Hey Guys, My point was there isn’t much to get excited about, and the fact that they wont promote Santana isn’t helping. (and didn’t entice me to re-up my season ticket plan this year)

    Also, I’m well aware of the amount of money they will save..but my gut reaction to that is, “Why should I care?”

    I mean, what the hell are you doing? You own a professional baseball team. You have this great guy, ready to go…Lou Marson does not sell tickets.

    Anyway, like I said, I’m so over the Indians. Thanks for the input.

  • Akronbobby

    Was at yesterday’s game, one strike away three times. Hard to believe. However, if it is 40 games into the season before we can bring up Carlos – we only have 12 more games to wait. The tribe certainly needs something to draw over 12,000 to a game. In spite of Val’s error and LaPorta getting turned into a pretzel in LF there was some excellent defense displayed yesterday. On the other side of the ball what is with Grady?? How about making him lead off just to see if it is a mental block. He didn’t hit in the 3rd hole and isn’t in the two hole ( zero homers for the season — geeez ) might as well try him batting first or last, depending on what message Manny wants to send.