(I just wanted to give a quick hello to all readers, as this is my first blog post for the website. I also wanted to give a shout out to Stephanie and Susan for giving me this opportunity. It really meant a lot to be given the chance to contribute, and I look forward to interacting with all of you in the coming months of the season.)
I have two questions for the readers today:
1.) Why does Carlos Santana choose not to use this song as his walk-up music?
I have pondered this question at many Indians games over the last couple of years when Santana was just breaking through as Victor Martinez 2.0. For those of you who may have no idea what I am talking about, Carlos Santana is not only the name of the Cleveland Indians starting catcher, but also the name of one of the most famous guitarists of all time. His runs on the guitar give me goosebumps as I listen to youtube clips of his tracks to this day. One of Santana’s best known songs is Black Magic Woman, and I encourage you to listen to it before reading the rest of this blog post. It can be found here:
Seriously….listen to it…and check out this Topps 2011 Triple Threads 1/1 Autograph of Carlos Santana (I am a huge baseball card collector and fan. I just had the opportunity to buy this card, and I think it is an awesome piece.)
Great! You actually listened to me. For my first time blogging, that means a lot that you followed directions (assuming that of course, you did.) For some reason, I imagine the first few seconds of Santana’s handy guitar work playing as Carlos walks up to the plate. The crowd cheering, with 35,000+ fans in unison chanting “Carlos…Carlos…” seems so realistic in my head. For this reason, Carlos Santana is an easy choice as my favorite Cleveland Indian.
2.) What do the following lyrics from Black Magic Woman mean to Carlos Santana, the SWITCH HITTING catcher?
-Don’t mess around with your tricks;
Don’t turn your back on me, baby,
’cause you might just wake up my magic sticks.
Well, nothing at first. Consider the following blind resume
(Information from Fangraphs.com)
Player A- 179AB’s 5HR 25RBI .318BA
Player B- 373AB’s 22HR 54RBI .201 BA
Player C- 360AB’s 11HR 52RBI .295 BA
Out of these 3 players, which would you want most on the field as your starting catcher? I personally vote for player C, who seems to be the more all-around player when in comparison to player B (rough batting average) and player A (small sample size and less power). Well, its time for results.
Player A- 179AB’s 5HR 25RBI .318BA (Carlos Santana Vs. Lefties in 2011)
Player B- 373AB’s 22HR 54RBI .201 BA (Carlos Santana Vs Righties in 2011)
Player C- 360AB’s 11HR 52RBI .295 BA (Rough estimate of Player A multiplied by 2)
That is some Inception stuff is it not? It’s the same player. Much has been made of Carlos Santana’s batting average struggles last season. In fact, quickly look at a “heat map” interpretation of Santana’s average from each side of the plate in 2011 and see for yourself (courtesy of espn trumedia):
I think the lack of a red zone on the classic “up and in” area speaks as to why Santana had only 5 home runs from this side of the plate. As you can see, his success came from taking the ball to the opposite field. Now lets check out the same view, but from when Santana was batting left handed:
Yikes. Not a single red hot zone in the entire strike zone. In 370+ at-bat’s from the left side last season, Santana did mash 22 home runs, but at what cost to his batting average? To share a simple fact to illustrate my point, last season Carlos Santana had 75 hits from this side of the plate. Of those 75 hits, ONLY 15 of them traveled to the left side of the field (and only 1 home run to left as well). From this side of the plate, it is clear that Carlos mainly concentrates on pulling the ball; however, his heat map shows that this approach led him to a very low average in 2011.
As you can see, at least statistically, Carlos has a completely different approach from each side of the plate. Manny Acta has never wavered from endorsing Santana’s switch hitting abilities, and it is quite possible that this season could be a bounce back year for Carlos from the left side of the plate. I am interested to see Santana’s spring training splits as spring training winds down, and get a feel as to whether he can switch hit at the Major League level long-term. If Santana continues to struggle, I encourage him to listen closely to those Santana lyrics above, with a minor tweak:
-Don’t mess around with THOSE tricks;
JUST turn your back on IT CARLOS,
’cause you might NEVER wake up THE LEFT HANDED STICK.
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