Carlos Santana says changing positions has affected his hitting

Leon Halip

Santana is in the midst of an ugly slump and says his new role is affecting him (but he doesn't sound worried).

Carlos Santana is off to a very ugly start, in terms of his batting average and power numbers. Through Wednesday is is batting just .170, with a pair of doubles as his only extra-base hits. Yesterday he told reports he believes that changing positions day-to-day is affecting his hitting: "Yeah, it's affected me a little bit, but it's all right. Everybody knows it's hard, and it's affecting me a little, too, but I'll keep it going."

As I said, it's been an ugly start. 8 hits in 47 at bats is rough, and the league-leading 6 double plays Carlos has hit into are especially painful. Santana has started six games at third base, five at DH, and three at catcher. Given the distinct demands of those spots in the lineup (far more varied than starting in left and center field, or shortstop and second base), I'm not surprised feels like it's hurting other parts of his game.

That said, I don't think this start is quite as bad as it seems, in part because his BABIP is only .205; that's unsustainably low, and headed for upwards regression, probably soon. He's also hit 3 fly balls to the warning track, and could pretty easily have a couple home runs.

There are even a couple really positive points about his start: He's already drawn 14 walks, third-most in MLB. Because of his elite plate discipline, even with his early struggles, even with his bad luck on balls in play, his on-base percentage is still .361, above league average. Furthermore, his strikeout percentage is just 13.1%, the lowest of his career. Strikeout rate is the first major offensive statistic to stabilize, which means there's reason to believe this drop in strikeouts is an actual change in his game.

This slump is disappointing, but not concerning. Santana has been one of the better hitters in baseball, and I'm confident his numbers will show that again before much longer.

Terry Francona doesn't seem concerned either. "I think what happens is, when guys aren't swinging the bats, frustration can set in. He's our cleanup hitter and he's a heck of a hitter... I probably need to sit and talk to him to make him feel better about things, because what he does is very valuable."

I think Santana is frustrated that he hasn't been getting many hits, how could he not be? I think he knows a slow start isn't the end of the world though. "But this is like two weeks," he says. "It's a long season, six months. This is the first month. I need to keep going and I'll come back."

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