There have been a few rumors about the Indians running around during the Winter Meetings. The majority of these have involved an improvement to the offense, specifically first base. The Indians, according to indians.com, have already proclaimed themselves out of the running for Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Carlos Pena (who would want him?) so they are currently looking for Matt LaPorta‘s replacement through trade. They have already signed Matt Pagnozzi to a minor league deal leading to even more rumors of Carlos Santana moving to first to replace LaPorta. Just for a little background information on Pagnozzi, he is a 29 year old career minor leaguer who hit .275 in AAA last year and was dropped by the Rockies and Pirates. Assuming that the Indians do not make a major signing or trade, let me show you some numbers that will hopefully stop the talk of Carlos Santana to first base.
If Santana moves to first, this will completely remove LaPorta from the lineup. This means the two options at first/catcher are LaPorta/Santana or Santana/Marson. For some people seem to be confused and think that Santana will be replacing LaPorta, but that is not the case. Santana is a given either way, so it is actually the back-up catcher who is replacing LaPorta. The reason Santana’s numbers are so special are because he plays catcher. Last season he was one of the top two catchers in the AL, but when compared to firstbasemen was closer to sixth.
This is oversimplified, but I took the numbers of Lou Marson, Carlos Santana and Matt LaPorta from their time with the Indians, averaged it out and extrapolated it out over 162 games, since none of them have completed a full season yet (except Santana in 2011). First I added Santana and LaPorta’s numbers together the see what we can expect from the combo if they play every single game next year.
While these numbers aren’t spectacular (divide everything by two to see what it is per player), just wait until you see it when you through Lou Marson into the mix.
As you can see, the numbers from the first line that were mostly accrued by Santana have stayed the same or increased (walks and steals), but all power and hit numbers have been demolished. Most noteably, the combined slugging percent is .048 points lower. Now, a .400+ slugging percent isn’t really anything that great (the Indians record is .690 by Albert Belle) at least it’s better than .380. I hate that I have to spell it out like this, but I read comments of people every day talking about how LaPorta should be released in favor of the Marson/Santana combination and hopefully this will do something to eliminate that ignorance.