A Better Sort of History: Carlos Santana

My, my, my.

Yesterday, the long odds that Matt LaPorta and Lou Marson faced as they try to construct major league careers were outlined—this was not a pleasant undertaking. So, I decided to go looking for a more optimistic set of historical comps. What better place to start than young Carlos Santana, the Indians switch-hitting, mashing catcher. Here's what I wanted:

  • Played 180 games or more in his first two seasons (Santana is at 201), post integration
  • Played predominantly catcher, to the tune of 60% of his games during his first two seasons (Carlos went 135/201)
  • Really hit in his first two seasons, OBP over .340 and SLG over .440, as well as OPS+ over 120 (Carlos' career line is .244/.362/.459, with a 128 OPS+).

By far the most stringent requirement here is that the player arrives on the scene raking, as Santana did. If you allow players to use their totals over their first three, four, or five seasons, you expand Santana's comp list to players like Alex Avila, Mike Piazza, Mike Napoli, and Roy Campanella. With that in mind, who are Santana's comps by these criteria?

Rk Player HR OPS+ OBP SLG G From To Age PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OPS Pos Tm
1 Carlos Santana 33 128 .362 .459 201 2010 2011 24-25 850 702 107 171 48 2 101 134 9 162 3 0 11 18 8 3 .244 .821 *2/3D CLE
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/6/2011.

That's the whole list. What about just as a hitter?

Rk Player HR OPS+ OBP SLG G From To Age PA 2B 3B BB SO BA OPS Pos Tm
1 Frank Thomas 39 179 .453 .547 218 1990 1991 22-23 940 42 5 182 166 .321 1.000 *D3 CHW
2 Albert Pujols 71 154 .399 .586 318 2001 2002 21-22 1351 87 6 141 162 .321 .984 7/539D6 STL
3 Eddie Mathews 72 145 .366 .541 302 1952 1953 20-21 1274 54 13 158 198 .274 .907 *5 BSN-MLN
4 Mitchell Page 38 145 .380 .490 292 1977 1978 25-26 1171 53 15 131 190 .296 .870 *7/D9 OAK
5 Mickey Mantle 36 143 .377 .497 238 1951 1952 19-20 1012 48 12 118 185 .294 .874 *89/5 NYY
6 Wade Boggs 10 141 .431 .470 257 1982 1983 24-25 1066 58 8 127 57 .357 .900 *5/3D7 BOS
7 Ryan Braun 71 140 .350 .588 264 2007 2008 23-24 1155 65 13 71 241 .301 .937 *75/D MIL
8 Curt Blefary 45 140 .376 .469 275 1965 1966 21-22 1069 37 7 161 129 .258 .845 *7/93 BAL
9 Will Clark 46 139 .359 .521 261 1986 1987 22-23 1046 56 7 83 174 .299 .880 *3 SFG
10 Frank Robinson 67 138 .378 .543 302 1956 1957 20-21 1345 56 11 108 187 .307 .920 *7/83 CIN
11 Jeff Bagwell 33 137 .377 .440 318 1991 1992 23-24 1347 60 10 159 213 .283 .818 *3 HOU
12 John Kruk 24 137 .405 .463 260 1986 1987 25-26 854 30 4 118 151 .312 .869 3/79 SDP
13 Alvin Davis 45 136 .386 .469 307 1984 1985 23-24 1355 67 4 187 149 .286 .855 *3/D SEA
14 Tony Conigliaro 56 135 .345 .520 249 1964 1965 19-20 1030 42 7 86 194 .278 .865 *9/78 BOS
15 Josh Hamilton 51 133 .370 .538 246 2007 2008 26-27 1041 52 7 97 191 .300 .908 *8/9D7 CIN-TEX
16 David Wright 41 133 .371 .524 229 2004 2005 21-22 940 59 2 86 153 .302 .895 *5 NYM
17 Mike Stanton 56 132 .344 .525 250 2010 2011 20-21 997 51 6 104 289 .261 .869 *9/8D FLA
18 Eddie Murray 54 131 .345 .475 321 1977 1978 21-22 1356 61 5 118 201 .284 .820 *3D/75 BAL
19 Evan Longoria 60 130 .355 .528 279 2008 2009 22-23 1179 75 2 118 262 .277 .883 *5/D6 TBR
20 Jimmie Hall 58 130 .340 .500 305 1963 1964 25-26 1133 41 8 107 213 .271 .840 *8/79 MIN
21 Darryl Strawberry 52 130 .340 .487 269 1983 1984 21-22 1075 42 11 122 259 .254 .827 *9/8 NYM
22 Orlando Cepeda 52 129 .349 .517 299 1958 1959 20-21 1291 73 8 62 184 .315 .866 *3/75 SFG
23 Wally Joyner 56 128 .357 .492 303 1986 1987 24-25 1327 60 4 129 122 .288 .848 *3 CAL
24 Bobby Bonds 41 128 .346 .451 239 1968 1969 22-23 1069 35 11 119 271 .257 .798 *98 SFG
25 Carlos Santana 33 128 .362 .459 201 2010 2011 24-25 850 48 2 134 162 .244 .821 *2/3D CLE
26 Adam Dunn 45 126 .391 .493 224 2001 2002 21-22 962 46 3 166 244 .253 .884 *7/93D CIN
27 Hank Aaron 40 125 .347 .499 275 1954 1955 20-21 1174 64 15 77 100 .299 .846 79/4 MLN
28 Harry Anderson 40 125 .355 .493 258 1957 1958 25-26 1036 49 10 95 156 .286 .848 *7/39 PHI
29 Ichiro Suzuki 16 123 .385 .441 314 2001 2002 27-28 1466 61 16 98 115 .336 .826 *9/D8 SEA
30 Hideki Matsui 47 123 .371 .477 325 2003 2004 29-30 1375 76 3 151 189 .292 .848 *7/8D NYY
31 Ken Griffey 38 123 .350 .454 282 1989 1990 19-20 1172 51 7 107 164 .284 .805 *8/D SEA
32 George Scott 46 122 .348 .449 321 1966 1967 22-23 1322 39 14 128 271 .273 .796 *3/5 BOS
33 Andrew McCutchen 28 121 .365 .459 262 2009 2010 22-23 1146 61 14 124 172 .286 .824 *8 PIT
34 Miguel Cabrera 45 121 .352 .497 247 2003 2004 20-21 1031 52 4 93 232 .285 .850 79/5D FLA
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/6/2011.

I think the Indians might have something in Carlos Santana.

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