Over the past decade, Carlos Santana has spent his summers terrorizing the Kansas City Royals pitchers, but now he's in the same dugout.
In early December, Royals general manager Dayton Moore made sure the pitching staff would no longer have to worry about the switch-hitting, on-base machine by signing him to a two-year contract to be the starting first baseman and middle of the order bat the Royals so desperately needed.
Since signing with the Royals, Santana has been arguably the team’s most consistent bat. Despite batting .255 on the year thus far, Santana’s on-base percentage of .406 is over 60 points higher than the next closest Royal and good for eighth-best in the majors. His 34 walks drawn are also the most in the American League and just two off the major league lead.
From a baseball standpoint, his approach at the plate molds a modern style with the winning ways of the past. Modern baseball analytics want “damage” in every count and on every at-bat. Santana ranks top 60 in the MLB in two of these new-aged analytical statistics; launch angle and average exit velocity. However, his plate discipline and low chase rate coupled with a knack for putting the ball in play and manufacturing bases, a lost art in the game today, is a good example of Santana sticking to the basics of batting.
As the most veteran member of the Royals starting lineup, Santana’s approach on the field and in the locker room can help a young, struggling team through the lows of the season. In a now-infamous story, first reported during his time in Philadelphia; Santana smashed the clubhouse television after finding teammates playing Fortnite during the Phillies nine-game losing streak.
While no such stories have surfaced during the Royals' rough month of May, Santana’s attitude and approach to the game gives the younger players a role model and influence to help inspire confidence in themselves and the team as the Royals look to get back to form.