With the Cleveland Indians riding high on Monday night after a walk-off victory thanks to Dr. Smooth, Michael Brantley, a familiar sight could be found in the box score—yet another dismal night at the plate for Carlos Santana.
Once compared to by many as the next Victor Martinez behind the plate, the 28-year old switch hitter has fallen so far from that comparison that Mario Mendoza’s famous line would be a considerable upgrade for the young man. After going 0-for-4 against the Tigers on Monday night, Santana’s average has fallen all the way down to .148 in the middle of May.
Let that sink in for a minute.
This isn’t an early April slump we are talking about here, this is a batting average that is 52 points below the Mendoza Line as we are less than two weeks from the month of June. Santana’s struggles do not encompass a few games—we are talking about a guy who has played in nearly every game this season.
Coming off a season in which he hit a career high .268 with 20 home runs, 74 RBIs and 93 walks, Santana finds himself with just five home runs, 13 RBIs and 35 walks to go with his atrocious .148 batting average. Things have gotten so bad that he isn’t even an asset or a threat in the lineup anymore, as he has posted just six multi-hit games this season—with two coming in the month of May.
We all know Santana is struggling, and whether it has something to do with his switch to third base or not, it is time for manager Terry Francona to finally pull the plug on an obvious poor project. It may not be plausible to send the youngster to the minor leagues, but it is time to let the guys behind him who are producing get more playing time.
At the forefront of that is third basemen, Lonnie Chisenhall.
Chisenhall is hitting a crisp .371 on the season, and continues to produce no matter how the team uses him. The biggest knock on him is the fact that he cannot hit left-handed pitchers well, but he is batting .667 this season in a small sample size (three at-bats). Despite logging just 89 at-bats this season, Chisenhall is also tied for second on the team in doubles with 10.
Outside of Chisenhall, Mike Aviles would likely see more time on the field with Santana relegated to the bench. Aviles has bounced back from an early season slump, as he is batting .269 with five doubles, two home runs, 11 RBI and five walks in 33 games. The combination of the two at third base on a regular basis would be a major immediate upgrade to the Indians lineup.
It seems like a tough thing to do, sending a guy who was supposed to be the center of your lineup for the next five years to the bench, but it must be done. The longer the Indians allow Santana to go out there and not hit the ball, the more they are destroying his chances of bouncing back from this and having any sort of a productive career.