Santana dropped out of cleanup spot

Carlos Santana was mercifully dropped in the lineup on Friday, the first time in his career he did not hit either 3rd or 4th.

There’s a decent chance he’ll climb back up later this season, but what if he doesn’t? Where would his miserably stint as the cleanup hitter rank in Indians history?

Over the past 90 seasons 132 different players have started at least 40 games in the four-hole in an individual year. Of those 132 only Moose Solters, who hit cleanup 44 times in 1938, posted a lower batting average than Santana.

Solters season was a confusing one. The previous year he hit .323 with 20 homers – just the 4th different Indian to reach the 20 home run plateau. I did some research to see if I could find the reason for Solters decline (perhaps an injury) but found only this mention from the Baseball Biography Project:

Solters had played well under manager Steve O’Neill in 1937, but new skipper Ossie Vitt was another story altogether in 1938. For whatever reason, perhaps his holdout, Vitt played Solters rather little. He went into a prolonged slump and by that time, Vitt couldn’t in all fairness to the team keep sending him out there day after day. He benched Solters. Moose recovered some in 1939, and was hitting .275 after his first 41 games. He was put on waivers and claimed by his old team, the Browns, for the $7,500 waiver price.

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Santana’s rough year continues

It’s been a tough spring for Carlos Santana, who is barely above the Mendoza line at the season’s quarter-pole.

His .207 batting average ranks among the worst in recent history through 45 games, but is compounded by the fact that he continues to bat cleanup.

The only Indian the last 50 seasons with at least 125 plate appearance in the four-hole through 45 games to post an average lower than Santana was Andre Thornton (.183 in 1986).

Most HR without a 3 HR game

On the latest edition of ESPN’s Baseball Today podcast, Mark Simon mentioned that Rafael Palmeiro holds the record for the most career home runs without ever hitting three in a game. That note sparked my interest so I decided to look up the Indians record holder in the category.

The Tribe’s leader for most homers without a three home run game is Andre Thornton, who hit 214 homers with the Indians. Next up on the list is Grady Sizemore, who has 135 career dingers.

Pronk on RBI tear

The reincarnation of Travis Hafner has driven in at least two runs in each of his last three games – the fourth such streak of his career and his first since since 2006.

Hafner is the 7th Tribesman in the past 50 years with at least four three-game multi-RBI streaks, but still well behind Manny Ramirez‘s record of 14.

Hafner’s six-game streak in 2005 is tied with Juan Gonzalez (2001) and Andre Thornton (1985) for the longest in team history.

Choo leads Indians with 16 HR

Shin-Soo Choo is about to join a very exclusive list. Unless the Indians right fielder hits four more home runs in the final weeks of the season (unlikely) it will be just the 5th time since the end of World War II that the Tribe’s leader failed to reach the 20 homer mark.

It doesn’t make much to hit 20 homers. Tribe leaders with 2o+ over the years include Candy Maldonado (1990), George Hendrick (1975-76), Oscar Gamble ( 1973) and Woodie Held (1960-61).

The last time the Tribe leader had fewer than 20 homers was in 1982, when Gorman Thomas and Andre Thornton tied with 17.

Branyan hits 10th HR

Russell Branyan hit his 10th home run of the season, the first Indian to reach the double-digit mark this season in the team’s 69th game. That’s the longest its taken the Indians to get their first player to 10 home runs since 1991 when Albert Belle hit his 10th in their 72nd game of the season. Prior to 1991, you have to go back to Andre Thornton in 1983 to find the last time it took this long to reach 10 homers (71 games).