Cleveland Indians News: Carlos Santana, Mark Reynolds, early season offense

J. Meric

Santana and Reynolds have been killing the ball so far. How do they stack up against other big starts in Tribe history?

As of this morning, Carlos Santana and Mark Reynolds are 2nd and 3rd in slugging percentage for the American League (behind only Baltimore's Chris Davis). Santana (.704 SLG) is batting .352 and already has 7 doubles and 4 home runs. Reynolds (.698 SLG) is batting .286 and already has 5 doubles and 7 home runs (one off the league lead). His isolated power (ISO, basically SLG - BA) is a league leading .413 (in MLB history only Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, and Mark McGwire have had a full season with a figure that high).

The Indians have only played 19 games (and Santana missed almost a week), but those figures are still very impressive. Just how impressive are they in the scope of Tribe history? What are the highest slugging percentages ever put up over the first 19 games of the season? (sure, it would be nice to have a round number, but 19 is how many they've played and an off day is a good time for looking at statistical oddities such as this)

In the table below, you'll find the twenty highest slugging percentages through 19 games in Indians history (dating back to 1916*, which is when we have complete game by game box score records). It would be silly to include players who only played in one game over that time, so I set a minimum of 50 plate appearances (Santana has 62 so far, Reynolds 74). I've also included each player's slugging percentage from the end of that season:

Rank

Player

Year

Early SLG

Final SLG

1

Ken Keltner

1948

.904

.522

2

Sandy Alomar

1997

.868

.545

3

Brian Giles

1998

.829

.460

4

Ken Keltner

1941

.765

.485

5

Al Rosen

1952

.764

.524

6

Hal Trosky

1938

.759

.542

7

Juan Gonzalez

2001

.753

.590

8

Jeff Heath

1941

.741

.586

9

Manny Ramirez

1995

.740

.558

10

Travis Hafner

2006

.731

.659

11

Boog Powell

1975

.722

.524

12

Joe Carter

1988

.718

.478

13

Manny Ramirez

1994

.717

.521

14

Hal Trosky

1940

.714

.529

15

Lou Boudreau

1948

.707

.534

16

Carlos Santana

2013

.704

???

17

Mark Reynolds

2013

.698

???

18

Toby Harrah

1982

.685

.490

19

Albert Belle

1996

.676

.623

20

George Burns

1925

.667

.473

* It's likely that one or two seasons from 1901-1915 would have made the list, were the records available, but those were fairly low-offense times in baseball history. In the 97 seasons from 1916 to 2012, an Indian with 400+ PA had a slugging percentage of .500+ 104 times (an average of 1.07 per season), compared to just 8 times in the 15 seasons from 1901 to 1915 (.53 per season). Meaning (in a small sample), it was only half as frequent. Joe Jackson and Nap Lajoie each had 3 of those 8 seasons, so they're the most likely candidates for having made this list.

I was actually a bit surprised to find that 'only' five of the top twenty seasons came from the 1990s, because that was a huge time for offense in baseball and the Indians were particularly good. I was also surprised that among all the great hitters from those teams in the 90s, it was Sandy Alomar who had (easily) the hottest start to a season.

Notably, Ken Keltner, Manny Ramirez, and Hal Trosky are the only players on the list twice, with Manny accomplishing it in back-to-back seasons, while Keltner's came seven years apart. 2013 is the third time the Tribe has had two players with such strong power numbers early in the year, 1941 and 1948 are the others.

The lowest season-ending slugging percentage from among the previous seasons in the list was Brian's Giles .460 in 1999. That's a pretty nice minimum (not that Santana and Reynolds couldn't end up below that). 13 of the 18 previous seasons ended with a slugging percentage of at least ,500, which would be a pretty sweet result from either of this year's pair. There's no real way of knowing where Santana and Reynolds' seasons are heading, but the results from similar starts in Tribe history are promising, and if nothing else, it's fun to see the company they're keeping.

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