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Stupid, stubborn Santana

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Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby Prosecutor » Thu May 22, 2014 2:04 pm

It's time for Francona to sit Carlos Santana down. He's killing the offense. Our supposed cleanup hitter is batting .146 after 47 games. He's practically an automatic out. I haven't researched it, but I'll bet there are at least a dozen pitchers in the NL with a higher batting average.

The problem is his approach. He tries to hit every ball he swings at into the upper deck in right field. He doesn't go with the pitch. It's stupid and selfish, and it's not working. When he does hit the ball it's usually right into the shift. Teams know he won't go the other way and take full advantage.

Lonnie Chisenhall had a similar approach last year and ended up back in Columbus. Now he's changed his approach and is going with the pitch. "I just take what they give me," he said recently. As a result he's hitting around .370. Obviously that won't last, but there's no question he's a totally different (and much better) hitter. His hit distribution chart shows almost equal numbers of hits going to left, right, and center.

Michael Brantley is having a breakout year. He's also hitting the ball where it's pitched. Yesterday was a great example. He singled to center, driving in two runs in the 2nd. He singled to left, driving in the tying run in the 13th. In between he doubled off the center field wall and singled to right. His average is up to .302, a career high.

David Murphy is the third Indian having a big year at the plate. He's on pace for 100 RBI thanks mainly to his ability to hit with RISP. He's batting .444 in those situations. Yesterday he drove in a run with a single to left and also homered to right. He's had a number of big two-out hits where he slapped a pitch on the outside corner to left field.

All three of these guys are staying within themselves and taking what the pitcher gives them. Santana, on the other hand, stubbornly continues to swing from the heels, lunging and throwing himself off balance with every swing. He almost falls down after every missed swing or foul ball. He's not hitting anything squarely, even when he gets ahead in the count and gets a fastball down the middle.

I'm sure he's thinking that he's always hit this way and has always been successful, so why change? For whatever reason this approach is not working. He needs to smooth out his swing and just try to hit line drives up the middle or to left field if the pitch is outside. There's only one infielder between 2nd and 3rd base, so just about anything hit to left will go through.

Francona needs to sit him down and have a pointed conversation. Dropping him in the order hasn't worked. Some people think it's the position change (which was supposed to make him a better hitter), but I say it's his all-or-nothing approach. If necessary, Francona needs to bench him until he sees some positive adjustments in his swing. Theu should put together a video of him hitting line drives, especially up the middle or to left field, and make him watch it. That's probably been done already, but follow up by making him work on hitting line drives up the middle in batting practice while maintaining his balance.

Enough already. Something needs to be done with this stubborn, unproductive player. He can see the success his teammates are having by using the correct hitting approach. Even the great Miguel Cabrera frequently hits to right field with two strikes on him, and with excellent results. If he can compromise when the situation calls for it, so can Santana.
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby Bearcatbob » Thu May 22, 2014 9:44 pm

I would go further if he has any options left. I would send him to Columbus until he finds it. Tonight he air mailed a throw on an easy play into right center. Of it happened right after Droobs went to boot city as well. At least Droobs damn near hit a 3 run homer.
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby Bearcatbob » Thu May 22, 2014 9:50 pm

And another thing. Does anyone doubt that Aviles is not a better 2b than Kipnis?
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby Edible14 » Fri May 23, 2014 7:11 am

Bearcatbob wrote:And another thing. Does anyone doubt that Aviles is not a better 2b than Kipnis?


Defensively? Sure he is. Ramirez is better than both of them. But Kipnis is a much better offensive 2B, and doesn't really have any other positions.

As for Santana, I'm still stumped as to what's wrong with him. While he's getting his walks (4th in the majors as of writing), his k-rate is in-line with what he's done in his career. His ISO is even right where it normally is. His low batting average is driven by a low BABIP at .162. That's likely to regress towards .300, which will increase his batting average over time. But it's likely to stay low unless he increases his line drive rate. But not *this* low.

Part of the problem is likely that his swing is a little too big at this point. He's been unable to hit anything high in the zone (against righties he has just one hit from high in the zone). That's traditionally one of his strengths (and the strength of any power hitter). Part of that is obviously that pitchers are throwing him more off speed stuff low in the zone - putting his bat and eye level there. He's only seen 24% fastballs this year, as opposed to 33% last year.

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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby Prosecutor » Fri May 23, 2014 8:18 am

That's a neat chart. Where did you find it?

Can you believe he's in the blue on pitches right in the center of the strike zone? If that doesn't tell you his swing is messed up, I don't know what will. That's one reason I'm frustrated - even when he's in a hitter's count and the pitcher just gives him a fastball down the middle he can't square it up.

The fact that he's so bad on high pitches suggests his bat speed is slower, although I can't be sure. But he seems to pop up a lot of high pitches, meaning he's late.

Six more at-bats last night and not one line drive, although he managed to hit a sharp ground ball right over the 3rd base bag for the game-winning hit.

That throw to second was ridiculous. When he drops his arm the throws sail wide. Chiz did the same thing the day before throwing to first. I don't know why they let these guys sling it sidearm.
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby GeronimoSon » Fri May 23, 2014 8:22 am

Edible14 wrote:
Bearcatbob wrote:And another thing. Does anyone doubt that Aviles is not a better 2b than Kipnis?


Defensively? Sure he is. Ramirez is better than both of them. But Kipnis is a much better offensive 2B, and doesn't really have any other positions.

As for Santana, I'm still stumped as to what's wrong with him. While he's getting his walks (4th in the majors as of writing), his k-rate is in-line with what he's done in his career. His ISO is even right where it normally is. His low batting average is driven by a low BABIP at .162. That's likely to regress towards .300, which will increase his batting average over time. But it's likely to stay low unless he increases his line drive rate. But not *this* low.

Part of the problem is likely that his swing is a little too big at this point. He's been unable to hit anything high in the zone (against righties he has just one hit from high in the zone). That's traditionally one of his strengths (and the strength of any power hitter). Part of that is obviously that pitchers are throwing him more off speed stuff low in the zone - putting his bat and eye level there. He's only seen 24% fastballs this year, as opposed to 33% last year.

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Good analysis.. You've touched on the tendency areas defining the types of pitches is seeing and what he's doing with them.. It's pretty clear, the shift (defense ) is in his head, especially from the left side.. and he is pressing.. Last night's smash down the left field line should help him relax a bit.. A relaxed and confident C-San.. is a DANGEROUS thing.. In the game thread, I posted:

CSan.. two hits on the night.. hit the ball hard two other times. FWIW.. He's starting, just a bit, to see and hammer the ball like he should be.. imho, he's on the verge of a killer 30 day period.. Defensively, he's still a WIP at 3B, but, he's getting there... Perhaps it's time to bring up a "3rd" catcher, Roberto Perez, and hide C-San's catching gear?.. Maybe give Swish a day or three in the OF..

Perhaps the verge of a killer 30 day period is short on facts and long on emotion.. but, that's what I saw with Bourn..and what I'm seeing with C-San.... Hope I'm right..

thoughts...
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby Prosecutor » Fri May 23, 2014 8:48 am

Chief, he did have two hits last night, but one was a bouncer over the mound that should have been an out except the infielders got confused over which one was going to field the ball.

The other hit was a ground ball that luckily was right over the bag and was fair by inches.

I don't recall any balls hit hard, except for a hard ground ball right to the second baseman playing in short right field. Those ground balls into the teeth of the shift accomplish nothing, no matter how hard they're hit.

He flied out to right when he got jammed and hit it off the handle. Maybe you're counting that as a hard hit ball, but it was an easy out.

He's overswinging, pure and simple, and he refuses to do anything about it.
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby Prosecutor » Tue Jun 10, 2014 6:03 pm

Lonnie Chisenhall had a similar approach last year and ended up back in Columbus. Now he's changed his approach and is going with the pitch. "I just take what they give me," he said recently. As a result he's hitting around .370. Obviously that won't last, but there's no question he's a totally different (and much better) hitter. His hit distribution chart shows almost equal numbers of hits going to left, right, and center.


The Indians' 17-6 win over Texas illustrates this point perfectly.

Chisenhall was poised and balanced in the batter's box and went 5-for-5, including a double to left-center. Santana was his usual self, overswinging and especially vulnerable to slow breaking balls. He went 0-for-5 and is still hitting over 200 points lower than Chisenhall.

When is he going to wake up?
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby Edible14 » Wed Jun 11, 2014 4:51 am

Prosecutor wrote:That's a neat chart. Where did you find it?


The baseball cube. I use that and fangraphs for most of my stats research. It still amazes me how much information is available to even the layman today.
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby Edible14 » Wed Jun 11, 2014 5:15 am

Prosecutor wrote:
Lonnie Chisenhall had a similar approach last year and ended up back in Columbus. Now he's changed his approach and is going with the pitch. "I just take what they give me," he said recently. As a result he's hitting around .370. Obviously that won't last, but there's no question he's a totally different (and much better) hitter. His hit distribution chart shows almost equal numbers of hits going to left, right, and center.


The Indians' 17-6 win over Texas illustrates this point perfectly.

Chisenhall was poised and balanced in the batter's box and went 5-for-5, including a double to left-center. Santana was his usual self, overswinging and especially vulnerable to slow breaking balls. He went 0-for-5 and is still hitting over 200 points lower than Chisenhall.

When is he going to wake up?


So I've been saying Lonnie's year is likely to regress for awhile. Mostly because his K and walk numbers were identical to previous years, and his BABIP was unsustainably high (fueled by ridiculously high line drive rate, which *does* mean it's actually likely to be above .300, just not at .420 where it is currently). But a funny thing is happening now... his k-rate is actually *decreasing*. He's struck out just 5 times in 82 plate appearances since May 20th. This, combined with a spike in his ISO (3 homers in game will do that) to a career-high .230 is perhaps casting some doubt on that notion (his ISO was more or less in range of his previous seasons before this). He's still only 185 plate appearances into this season, so you can always throw the "small sample size" canard out at him. But at the very least, his peripherals are actually starting to suggest that some of his improvement is "real".

He still doesn't walk though. His BABIP will likely be pulled down as the year goes on. I'd be incredibly surprised if his ISO doesn't come down from where it is. But even if you factored in all of that, he'd be a well above-average hitter. Especially for a 3rd baseman.
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby GeronimoSon » Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:32 am

Edible14 wrote:
Prosecutor wrote:
Lonnie Chisenhall had a similar approach last year and ended up back in Columbus. Now he's changed his approach and is going with the pitch. "I just take what they give me," he said recently. As a result he's hitting around .370. Obviously that won't last, but there's no question he's a totally different (and much better) hitter. His hit distribution chart shows almost equal numbers of hits going to left, right, and center.


The Indians' 17-6 win over Texas illustrates this point perfectly.

Chisenhall was poised and balanced in the batter's box and went 5-for-5, including a double to left-center. Santana was his usual self, overswinging and especially vulnerable to slow breaking balls. He went 0-for-5 and is still hitting over 200 points lower than Chisenhall.

When is he going to wake up?


So I've been saying Lonnie's year is likely to regress for awhile. Mostly because his K and walk numbers were identical to previous years, and his BABIP was unsustainably high (fueled by ridiculously high line drive rate, which *does* mean it's actually likely to be above .300, just not at .420 where it is currently). But a funny thing is happening now... his k-rate is actually *decreasing*. He's struck out just 5 times in 82 plate appearances since May 20th. This, combined with a spike in his ISO (3 homers in game will do that) to a career-high .230 is perhaps casting some doubt on that notion (his ISO was more or less in range of his previous seasons before this). He's still only 185 plate appearances into this season, so you can always throw the "small sample size" canard out at him. But at the very least, his peripherals are actually starting to suggest that some of his improvement is "real".

He still doesn't walk though. His BABIP will likely be pulled down as the year goes on. I'd be incredibly surprised if his ISO doesn't come down from where it is. But even if you factored in all of that, he'd be a well above-average hitter. Especially for a 3rd baseman.


One of the issues with Lonnie in the past.. and remains.. was pitch selection.. Even now.. when the count goes to two strikes.. he swings at just about everything (he lays off the low pitches almost always).. As I've stated, his hand eye coordination and bat speed allow him to put the bat on the ball... Fortunately, this year, the contact rate is resulting in hits the other way and home runs over the right field wall.. It's possible that this kind of result was coming all along.. it's just a matter of a quarter inch here or there that allows the 'good wood' to make contact.. No chance that the way he is hitting the ball was predictable.. it's just amazing to watch..
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby Prosecutor » Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:21 am

No question Lonnie doesn't want to be called out on strikes; he zealously protects the plate with two strikes, swinging at anything close and fouling it off.

As a result he doesn't walk much but he doesn't strike out much, either.

As time passes and pitchers start respecting him more, I think he'll start drawing more walks. He fell behind 0-2 against KC and ended up working a walk simply because the pitcher refused to throw anything in the middle of the zone.
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby Prosecutor » Mon Jun 16, 2014 8:56 am

Santana finally started to hit since coming off the DL for a concussion. Maybe he just needed a week off to work on fine-tuning his swing. Reportedly they got him to stop moving around so much as the ball is being pitched. Heck, he even tried to bunt for a base hit against the shift yesterday.

If he ever learns to bunt he could hit .400.

I have to give him credit, he's doing a nice job defensively at first base, too. I think they should keep him there instead of moving him back and forth between 1B, 3B, C, and DH.
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby Hermie13 » Mon Jun 16, 2014 10:04 am

Prosecutor wrote:Santana finally started to hit since coming off the DL for a concussion. Maybe he just needed a week off to work on fine-tuning his swing. Reportedly they got him to stop moving around so much as the ball is being pitched. Heck, he even tried to bunt for a base hit against the shift yesterday.

If he ever learns to bunt he could hit .400.

I have to give him credit, he's doing a nice job defensively at first base, too. I think they should keep him there instead of moving him back and forth between 1B, 3B, C, and DH.


yeah...no. lol

Santana has been hitting better. Some of the hits have simply found holes that they weren't finding earlier though (like that grounder up the middle yesterday). no way was his BABIP going to stay as low as it was regardless of how many times teams shifted on him.
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby Edible14 » Tue Jun 17, 2014 2:25 pm

Prosecutor wrote:No question Lonnie doesn't want to be called out on strikes; he zealously protects the plate with two strikes, swinging at anything close and fouling it off.

As a result he doesn't walk much but he doesn't strike out much, either.

As time passes and pitchers start respecting him more, I think he'll start drawing more walks. He fell behind 0-2 against KC and ended up working a walk simply because the pitcher refused to throw anything in the middle of the zone.


Not entirely true. Up until this year, Lonnie's K-rate was actually average to below average for mlb players. Fangraphs lists 18.5% as "average" for mlb hitters, with 20% being "below average". Before this year, his lowest rate was 17.9% (Fangraphs says 15% or lower is "above average", and as high as 22% (solidly below average). Last year, at 18.2%, he would have been 59th-worst in the league out of 140 qualified players if he qualified. His k-rate has been average to below average in the past, so I don't think I can agree with the statement that he doesn't strike out much.

Although it's true pitchers will start to throw him less. If you look at his plate discipline numbers, you'll find that this year is solidly between his previous three years in pretty much all of those stats (stats about what percentage of pitches he swings at outside of the zone, inside of the zone, what percentage of those swings generate contact, etc.). The only stat that stands out from previous years is his zone-%, the amount of pitches seen in the zone. He's seeing a career-low amount of strikes at 42.6%, his previous low being 45.1%. That's actually a relatively major shift. I don't remember that being the case earlier in the year, likely that has to do with his recent stretch of walks (5 times in 58 PAs this month), bumping his walk rate to a new career high 6.3%. Which tells us that Lonnie really is starting to get worse pitches, and that we're still dealing with a really small sample size that can be affected by small anomalies.
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby Bearcatbob » Tue Jun 17, 2014 5:51 pm

Anyone note he has not had a hit since he sat out a game in Boston?
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby Chiefroy » Tue Jun 17, 2014 6:20 pm

Bearcatbob wrote:Anyone note he has not had a hit since he sat out a game in Boston?



...or that Santana is hitting .333 /.435 /.615 /1.050 in June?
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby GeronimoSon » Wed Jun 18, 2014 10:05 am

Bearcatbob wrote:Anyone note he has not had a hit since he sat out a game in Boston?

Well.. scratch that...
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Re: Stupid, stubborn Santana

Postby Edible14 » Fri Jun 20, 2014 2:47 am

We've somehow crossed a major milestone for Santana. While his average still sits below the Mendoza line, he's actually, as of this writing, an above-average hitter on the year. With a wRC+ of 109, he's officially crossed over to having an above-replacement offensive output. This is mostly because his walk rate is still one of the best in the business.

It's hard not to draw the conclusion that with him being more at 1B, and with Kottaras on the roster, he's more free to get his head right on offense. He is more valuable at 3B, but with how well Chisenhall is playing I'm not complaining about it. Now, if we could stop playing Aviles there, that would be great. Because Aviles' walk rate is horrible. He's a very below-average offensive player whose only real major league skills are defense and speed. But he's never shown to be a good fielding 3B. His splits aren't even that dramatic - it's not like he benefits that much by getting in against lefties. Aviles should only be playing as a pinch runner and as a defensive replacement at 2B/SS (preferably SS, the only position he owns a positive UZR at, and where we have a pretty bad defensive starter who could stand to be taken out for defensive purposes late in games).
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