Carlos Santana Proving to Be the Cleveland Indians’ MVP

CLEVELAND, OHIO - AUGUST 12: Carlos Santana #41 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases on his walk-off solo home run to defeat the Boston Red Sox 6-5 at Progressive Field on August 12, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

A Sentimental Reunion Paying off for Both Santana and the Indians

A year ago, Carlos Santana was playing for the Philadelphia Phillies. He had just signed a three year deal with Philadelphia, after eight strong years with the Cleveland Indians. Santana and the Indians seemed to be on different paths. However, that all changed when the Indians spun a three-team trade with the Seattle Mariners and Phillies which brought Santana back to Cleveland. Fans loved seeing Santana return, but no one would’ve thought the 33-year-old first baseman would post his best season to date.

After a mildly disappointing year in Philadelphia, Santana is on pace to set new career highs in RBI, batting average, and OPS. He’s been clutch all year, posting an OPS of .919 with runners in scoring position. As a result, he’s solidified himself as the team’s three-hole hitter. His rejuvenation came to an epic crescendo on Sunday, when he smashed a go-ahead grand slam against the first-place Minnesota Twins, as the Indians went on to win a four-game series against their heated rivals. He did it again on Monday night, as Santana propelled his team into first place with a dramatic walk-off home run against the Boston Red Sox.

Carlos Santana Delivers the Indians’ Biggest Hit of the Year: Part 1

The clutch grand slam came on the heels of Brad Hand blowing a 3-1 save in the ninth. The Indians went into the tenth in a 3-3 tie, knowing full well a loss would send them two games back of first place. A Cleveland win would bring them back into a tie atop the division with Minnesota.

The 10th quickly worked out in the Indians’ favor, as Kevin Plawecki led off with a single, followed by a walk by Francisco Lindor and bunt base hit by Greg Allen. Santana came up to bat with no one out and delivered the biggest hit of the year.

All of this came off of a clearly exhausted Taylor Rogers. The Minnesota closer had thrown two shutout innings the night before and certainly didn’t have his best stuff on Sunday. Santana capitalized on his fatigue and propelled his team into a tie for first.

Carlos Santana Delivers the Indians’ Biggest Hit of the Year: Part 2

As if Santana wasn’t satisfied with his club being tied for first, he one-upped his performance from Sunday against the Red Sox. After Hand blew another save, Santana came up to lead off in the bottom of the ninth.

He smashed an opposite-field homer to end the game. Not only did he provide Cleveland a dramatic win, but he also broke the virtual tie he had created atop the division with his grand slam against the Twins the previous game.

Santana has been so clutch this year, that teammate Dan Otero actually predicted Santana hitting an opposite-field walk-off homer just before it happened. It’s hard to figure out what was more impressive Santana’s blast or Otero’s gift of foresight.

Carlos Santana — Cleveland’s MVP

The Indians have certainly had their fair share of ups and downs in 2019. They’ve battled with injuries in the rotation and dealt with struggling veterans. But the one stable constant the team has treasured has been Santana.

Santana has played in 115 of Cleveland’s 118 games this year. He leads the team in home runs, RBI, runs scored, OBP, slugging, and OPS. In a year where Lindor missed nearly all of April, and Jose Ramirez struggled to get going, Santana’s consistency has been a major factor in Cleveland’s success.

In a season where Cleveland hosted the All-Star game, Santana was the only starting representative. He participated in the home run derby and served as the team’s quiet ambassador during the All-Star festivities.

Santana’s homecoming has been one of the feel-good stories in 2019, but his contributions at the plate have made him the team’s most valuable player. He’s helped Cleveland climb back atop the AL Central and will look to take his team to even greater heights down the stretch.

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