We understand that radio sports talk shows and Twitter are not representative of the feelings of the majority of sports fans anywhere, particularly in Cleveland. However, in listening and reading daily, there seems to be a lack of support for two regulars for the Cleveland Indians.
Those players are Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera.
Santana got off to a great start in 2013, hitting .389 with 5 HR and 13 RBI in April. Still, he is putting together his best full season with the Tribe, batting .272 with 12 HR and 48 RBI for the season. He currently is enjoying career highs in batting average and on base percentage, and has a 835 OPS and anything over 800 is very good.
For the stat guys out there, Santana ranks as the fourth best catcher in baseball in VORP (value over replacement player) behind just Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, and Joe Mauer. Posey and Mauer are former MVPs and Molina is a viable candidate for the award this season.
Much of the criticism of Santana comes on his handling of the pitching staff. However, the Tribe pitcher’s ERA with Santana behind the plate is 4.17, not all that different from the 3.87 figure with Yan Gomes, the new people’s choice. The league ERA is 4.32, so Santana is better than average.
Santana has struggled in throwing runners out on the basepaths, getting just 12% of the runners stealing, and he has been behind the plate for 38 of the league leading 56 wild pitches thrown by Tribe hurlers.
Granted, he’s not the second coming of Johnny Bench defensively, but he’s still one of the better catchers in the game and a very good offensive player. What’s not to like about a player, who at 27 is just entering the prime of his career.
Cabrera is tougher to defend because he is having an off-season in 2013, but he still is a two-time All-Star at shortstop, and still puts up solid numbers offensively at a defensive position.
According to VORP, Cabrera ranks right in the middle of American League shortstops, between Erick Aybar and Stephan Drew.
He could be suffering from having a down year after two solid offensive seasons, both of which he tailed in the second half, but he’s solid, not spectacular defensively. He also probably suffers from not being Omar Vizquel, one of the more popular Indians of the late 90’s.
Before the trade deadline, there were a lot of fans who wanted GM Chris Antonetti to trade the team’s starting shortstop for pitching prospects and turn the job over to Mike Aviles.
Admittedly, it may be prudent to deal Cabrera over the off-season with prize prospect Francisco Lindor possibly being ready for the big leagues as early as next season. But to trade him now would be crazy.
Neither Santana nor Cabrera is an outgoing player with the media, probably because they aren’t comfortable speaking English, their second language. That doesn’t play well in Cleveland, where talkative players become popular ones.
However, the reality is both are solid, if not very good players and both are extremely important to Terry Francona and the Indians. Most teams would love to have both guys playing regularly in their lineups.
Both players should get the benefit of the doubt from the ticket buying public. It’s a shame they seem to be more criticized than appreciated.