I’m not quite the stats guy that Jacob or Jon are. I’m not even sure what Jon does with numbers even qualifies as simply stats. It’s some kind of mix between math and art, but not a medium I fully understand most of the time to be honest with you. It does make for some fascinating reading material. Last week Jon gave us some ‘translations’ for what kind of numbers we might expect to see from Carlos Santana based on his play so far in Columbus. Going back a little ways, Jacob wrote this piece on Santana’s consistency.
While I may not be a stats guy, I am a baseball guy. In his Clip Show reports Dan has been telling us for weeks just how good Santana looks. I have to agree. Even in the limited time we’ve seen him in Cleveland, Carlos has the look of a baseball player. He passes the eye test immediately.
What is it about him that gives me that impression, especially so quickly?
One of the first things I look at is a player’s swing. How fast do his hands get through the hitting zone? How many steps are in his swing? Does he appear to have any weakness, places that it doesn’t look like he can get the bat on the ball? For Santana, the answers to these questions are all positive. His hands get through the hitting zone very quickly, even though he actually takes a pretty big swing. Even on Strasburg’s 100 mph fastballs, Santana was getting through the zone just fine. He also seems to reach every edge of the strike zone with the bat. And beyond. In his final at bat against Storen on Sunday he flied out to right field on a breaking ball that was down and in and probably at the top of his ankles, but he got enough of it to send it to short right field. That was an impressive out to me.The jury is of course still out on his right-handed at bats, because we have only seen him hit from that side once.
Here’s another reason Santana passes the eye test. He doesn’t seem fazed at all by what’s happening. Here is the most prized prospect in the system, making his quite anticipated debut, and in the number 3 spot of the order to boot- and he just steps in the box like he’s done it a thousand times before. And against Strasburg, with all the hype and circumstance Santana looked like there was no place else he’d rather be than in the batter’s box. He wasn’t fidgeting with his gloves, he wasn’t stepping out of the box and exhaling deeply like other Tribe hitters. He didn’t seem confused or like he was guessing what pitch was coming next. He stepped in and took his cuts. He WANTED to hit against the phenom. He has just a little swagger about him.In that regard, he reminds me of a young Manny Ramirez. Of course in Manny’s rookie season he hit 6th or 7th, not at the top of the order like Carlos.
Obviously the sample size is very small. But you have to like what you see in this kid. You have to like that he is hitting mistakes for extra bases. You have to like that he has a great eye for the strike zone. You have to be impressed with a rookie that hasn’t struck out in his first three games. The more I watch Carlos, the more impressed I am.