Veteran slugger Carlos Santana has had an interesting career at the MLB level.
He has been in the league for 12 years, and every season seems to hold something different for the 35-year-old from a production standpoint.
Currently, he’s under contract with the Kansas City Royals through the 2022 campaign.
The Royals probably aren’t sure what to expect from Santana going forward, because he’s typically pretty inconsistent on a year-to-year basis.
Let’s take a look at his unique career.
As mentioned, Santana has played at the MLB level for 12 years.
He broke into the big leagues in 2010 with the Cleveland Indians and spent eight years with the team.
Then, prior to the 2018 campaign, he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies on a multi-year deal, but he only spent one season with Philadelphia before being traded.
He ultimately landed with Cleveland again.
The one-time All-Star spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons there (giving him 10 seasons with Cleveland in total) before parting ways with the organization once again.
This time, Santana signed with the Royals on a two-year deal.
He’s still in the midst of that contract now.
Santana has accomplished a lot, and he has put together some really good seasons.
As recently as 2019, he was named an All-Star.
That season, he put together a great slash line of .281/.397/.515.
He homered 34 times, doubled 30 times, tripled once, and finished with a 136 OPS+.
He also racked up a 4.6 WAR, which helped him finish 16th in the AL MVP race.
That wasn’t his first time receiving MVP votes, either.
Back in 2013, he popped up on some ballots after posting an OPS of .832, OPS+ of 135, and WAR of 4.4.
He racked up 60 extra-base-hits that year.
For his career, Santana has seven seasons with 20+ home runs and four seasons with 25+.
Carlos Santana absolutely crushed this home run 💪💪pic.twitter.com/fNnUIlFMRx
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) September 4, 2018
That’s pretty impressive.
But that doesn’t really tell the whole story.
Santana’s production has always been somewhat unpredictable, especially lately.
We mentioned that he received MVP votes just a few years ago in 2019, but he sandwiched that season between two of the worst years of his career.
He posted a 105 OPS+ in 2018 and 93 OPS+ in 2020.
Then, to make matters worse, he was virtually unserviceable in 2021.
He posted a slash line of .214/.319/.342, OPS+ of 79, and WAR of -0.1 this season.
Carlos Santana in September: .133/.250/.217 (.467 OPS).
— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) September 27, 2021
Throughout Santana’s career, he has always been up-and-down on a year-to-year basis.
Perhaps the best way to look at his career is in segments:
- First four seasons (up): .814 OPS, 129 OPS+
- Next two seasons (down): .772 OPS, 111 OPS+
- Next one season (up): .865 OPS, 123 OPS+
- Next two seasons (down): .792 OPS, 109 OPS+
- Next one season (up): .911 OPS, 136 OPS+
- Last two seasons (down): .671 OPS, 83 OPS+
As you can see, there are a lot of mixed results in there.
He can probably best be described as a streaky player.
Despite his inconsistencies, Santana has had a very respectable career.
In recent seasons, it seemingly become clear that his best years are behind him, but hey, given the up-and-down nature of his career, you never know.
He could bounce back.
He’ll hope to have a strong 2022 campaign with the Royals.