The Cleveland Indians have a lot of things going for them right now. The team currently resides in first place on top the AL Central, they recently brought in veteran outfielder Johnny Damon and their young players are playing great. 26 year old Venezuelan shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was an All Star last year and he has carried that success into this year by the tune of 4 home runs and an average in the mid .320's. His 25 year old, double play partner, Jason Kipnis is hitting over .270 and has 6 homers and 6 steals. With contributions from their veteran sluggers Casey Kotchman and Travis Hafner, the Indians post the 10th highest run total in the league and the 8th best on base percentage. Their rotation is a work in progress but they are led by veteran ace Ubaldo Jimenez and 38 year old Derek Lowe. The Indians have a bright future and it all begins with the one player I have yet to mention.
Carlos Santana, the 26 year old catcher may have more than a few All Star selections when his career is done and with the way he swings the bat an MVP may not be out of the question. I don't think he'll ever win one but he does have the skill set of someone who can carry a slumping team for a few weeks (Josh Hamilton). Santana, this season, has a .262 average with 5 homers, 2 steals, 21 RBI's and 20 runs scored. Santana came into the year being labeled as a guy who warrants a top 5 fantasy catcher ranking but also as someone with some major downfalls. The biggest knock on him was that he was a low average guy that played on a weak offense. His rookie season, 2010, he hit .260 with a 19.3% walk rate and a 15.1% strikeout rate. His sophomore year, 2011, he hit .239 with a 14.7% walk rate and an awful 20.2% strikeout rate. This year he is splitting the difference with a 17.1% walk rate but he still has a high, 21.2% strikeout rate. His BABIP is at a career high of .303 but, that is close to the league average so I don't feel that is effecting him in any way. If I'm going to give you the secret to what will give Santana a decent average I have to dig a bit deeper.
The first thing that will increase Carlos' average will be his line drive rate. This year he has a solid 24.5% line drive rate compared to last season's abysmal 15.4%. The next step would be to have better plate discipline. Over his first two years Santana swung at over 21.4% of pitches out of the strike zone. This year he has cut that back to 20.4%. He has shown more patience at the plate despite having a career high strikeout rate. The final way to cut back on his K's and increase his average would be to improve his pitch recognition. He is seeing a career high 53.8% fast balls this year and career low numbers in sliders and curveballs. Once he learns to lay of the pitches in the dirt he could finish the year around the .265 mark.
If Santana can hit .265 his power numbers could reach the 30's making him a fantasy All Star. Carlos Santana has a bright future behind the plate and at first base for the Cleveland Indians. If Santana can continue at his current pace I would consider him to be a buy low option right now in your fantasy league. If your in a keeper league, you want to get him now before he reaches his super star potential. It's always nice to have an elite catcher.
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