Stats & Info: Carlos Santana

Santana continues home-run tear

July, 27, 2014
Carlos Santana capped off a huge series against the Kansas City Royals with his biggest game yet. He reached base all five times he came to the plate Sunday, hitting two home runs and driving in four in the Cleveland Indians’ 10-3 victory.

Huge series
In the four-game series in Kansas City, Santana was 9-for-14 (.643) with five home runs and eight RBI. He reached base safely 15 times over the four games.

Santana is the first player in baseball this season to homer five times in a series and only the sixth player in Indians history to do it. He also homered on Tuesday, giving him six homers in his pyyast six games. That’s more home runs than 20 teams over that span.

Four of Santana’s five homers in the series came against fastballs, including two on Sunday from Yordano Ventura at 97 and 100 mph.

Santana has four home runs this season on fastballs of 95 mph or faster, tied with Josh Donaldson for most in MLB. He has eight such homers over the last two seasons, two more than anyone else.

Turning his season around
After hitting only .159 with a .628 OPS over the first two months this season, Santana has turned his season around. His performance against fastballs has been a big reason why.

Santana is hitting a MLB-best .422 against fastballs (2/4-seam) since the start of June. He hit only .189 against those pitches over the first two months of the season.

Looking ahead
Despite Santana’s performance against the Royals, the Indians took just one of four games against Kansas City and have lost six of their past eight games overall.

Cleveland is 6.5 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central and 3.5 games back in the wild-card race. According to, the Indians have a 17-percent chance to make the playoffs this season.

But is Cleveland’s best baseball ahead? Last season, the Indians were 4.5 games back in the wild-card entering September and finished the season 21-6 to grab the first of two AL wild-card spots.

Stats to know: Rays vs Indians

October, 2, 2013

The Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians, two of the hottest teams in the majors the last two weeks, will go head-to-head tonight in the AL Wild Card Game (8 p.m. ET, ESPN Radio), with the winner advancing to face the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series.

The matchup
The Rays won four of the six meetings during the regular season. All six of the games had a similar theme -- one team both pitched and hit great.

Each of the six games were decided by four runs or more, with four of the games ending in shutouts (two for each team).

The hitter that fared best for the Indians was Carlos Santana, who was 9-for-22 with a homer and two doubles. He has a .333/.438/.515 slashline in 80 plate appearances against the Rays over the last three seasons, and is 3-for-7 with a walk against Rays starter Alex Cobb.

The Rays best hitter, Evan Longoria, doesn’t have a great history in Cleveland. He’s hitting .175 with 21 strikeouts in 63 at-bats in his career there, his worst batting average at any American League ballpark. But his teammate Ben Zobrist has been good there. He has a .288/.389/.559 slashline in 72 plate appearances in that park over the same span.

Indians asking a rookie to come up big
The Indians will start Danny Salazar, whose career consists of 10 major-league starts, only one of which involved him throwing 90 pitches or more.

Salazar’s strength is his swing-and-miss capability, particularly with a fastball that averages 96 mph, best among AL pitchers who started at least 10 games this season.

Salazar induced misses on 31 percent of the swings against him and struck out 31 percent of the hitters he faced, the second-best rates in the majors in both of those stats (Yu Darvish edged him out).

The one issue that could lead to a brief outing is that 25 percent of the balls that were put in play against him were line drives. That’s the highest rate of any pitcher with at least 10 starts in 2013.

Cobb’s comeback continues
Cobb missed two months after getting hit in the head with a line drive, but since he’s returned to the majors he’s been one of baseball’s best pitchers.

Cobb is 5-1 with a 2.41 ERA since his return.

The key for Cobb since his return is a curveball that has been an impact pitch.

In his last four starts, Cobb has averaged about 28 curveballs per game. The pitch has netted him 21 outs and yielded only four baserunners.

That could come into play against a hitter like Nick Swisher, who misses offspeed pitches from right-handed pitchers more frequently than any other left-handed hitter.

Defensive players to watch: Yan Gomes and Michael Bourn
Indians catcher Yan Gomes is capable of thwarting any potential baserunning attempts by the Rays. He caught 18 of 47 runners attempting to steal during the regular seasons, a 38 percent caught-stealing rate that ranked third-best in the majors, trailing only Yadier Molina and A.J. Ellis. Gomes also picked off four baserunners, one shy of the major-league lead (Chris Iannetta).

Gomes has also proven himself to be a very capable hitter. He hit .294 with an .826 OPS for the season. The Indians were 51-34 when he started behind the plate, and 41-36 when he didn’t.

The other key for the Indians up the middle is whether Michael Bourn, who has been hampered by injuries, starts in centerfield. Bourn has 30 defensive runs saved over the last three seasons (though only three in 2013). His potential replacement, Drew Stubbs, has -5 defensive runs saved in center field in that same time period.

Elias Sports Bureau Stat of the Day
The Indians won 10 straight games to close the regular season. They are the sixth team to win 10 or more in a row to close the season since 1900. But only one of those went on to win the World Series -- the 1970 Baltimore Orioles.

Royals, Indians lead red-hot AL Central

August, 2, 2013

Jason Miller/Getty ImagesRoyals pitching has fueled a nine-game win streak.
Three of the four teams with the longest active win streaks in baseball call the American League Central home, making it the hottest division around.

The Kansas City Royals lead the way with a nine-game streak, followed by the Cleveland Indians at eight straight and the Detroit Tigers with five in a row of their own. The Elias Sports Bureau notes this is the first time the AL Central has ever had two teams with concurrent win streaks of at least eight games.

Thursday night’s 7-2 win over the Twins capped a three-game sweep and marked the first time the Royals reeled off nine consecutive wins since beginning the 2003 season 9-0.

Excellent pitching has fueled this run, as Kansas City pitchers have posted a 1.50 ERA over the streak, allowing just 1.8 runs per game.

In fact, Kansas City has allowed three or fewer runs in each game. Over the past 20 years, the only team to reach double digits with a streak like that was the 2002 Angels, who won 10 in a row (per Elias).

Tonight, the Royals send Wade Davis to the mound to take on the Mets (NL-best 8-2 in interleague play this season) as they try to make it 10 straight wins for the first time since a 1994 14-game streak. It would also match the third-longest win streak in club history.

Davis will look to build off a solid start last time out -- 7 1/3 scoreless innings against the White Sox, which came on the heels of a 10.91 ERA over his previous four starts (all losses).

After capping a four-game sweep of the White Sox, the Indians have won eight straight games for the first time since April 2011. Over this stretch, they’ve been powered by walk-off homers from Jason Giambi and Carlos Santana. The offense has combined to bat .307 with a .372 OBP averaging 6.3 runs per game, and the pitching has been excellent with a 2.28 ERA.

Keeping it going will be a challenge tonight as the Indians head to Miami to face Cuban rookie Jose Fernandez, who turned 21 earlier this week. The defector is coming off a career-high 13 strikeouts in eight innings against the Pirates his last start out and has posted a 1.87 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 9.6 K/9 in his last 10 starts since June 1.

Looking Ahead
For all the streaking the Royals and Indians have done, they haven’t been able to gain much ground in the standings with the Tigers winning nine of 10 and 18 of their last 25.

The Royals face the toughest remaining schedule of the group by remaining opponents’ combined win percentage (.494), but they will play the most games at home. The Indians have the fewest remaining games against teams currently at or above .500 (22 of 54 games) of the bunch.

If all three teams win tonight, Elias tells us it would be only the second time in history three teams in a single division held concurrent win streaks of at least six games. The only time it happened was in June 1978 in the AL East (Orioles, Red Sox, Brewers).

Santana, Cano are powered 'up' this season

June, 3, 2013

Elsa/Getty Images
Carlos Santana (left, wearing mask) leads the Indians against Robinson Cano and the Yankees.
Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana and New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano are 11th and 12th in the American League, respectively, in OPS this season.

Their teams square off on Monday Night Baseball (ESPN, 7 ET).

They’ve both had success on pitches up in the zone but in different ways. Santana is hitting 140 points higher with an OPS that is almost 340 points higher on pitchers in the upper half of the strike zone.

He’s also taken advantage of being ahead in the count, hitting .553 with a 1.749 OPS in hitters’ counts (1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 2-1, 3-1) this season (.178/.420 in pitchers’ counts). His OBP of .696 when he’s ahead in the count leads all American League hitters.

Cano’s batting average and OPS are higher against pitches in the upper half, but he gets most of his power against pitches in the lower half of the strike zone, where he’s hit 11 of his 14 home runs this season.

Take a look at his hot zones at the bottom of the page to see the difference.

He’s gone back and forth this season between the 2-hole and the 3-hole in the lineup, but he’s clearly been better hitting second, as you can see in the chart on the right.

Mastering the slider
Indians starter Justin Masterson is holding opponents to an .063 batting average against his slider, the lowest against any starting pitcher with at least 100 sliders thrown this season.

The league-average starting pitcher gets a whiff on 31 percent of swings against sliders. Masterson gets whiffs on 43 percent of swings against his slider, and his 48 strikeouts with the pitch are the third-most in the majors.

When he throws it at least 83 MPH, opponents are hitting just .030 with a .114 OPS. Those numbers are .231 and .795 against sliders below 83 MPH.

And he has the ability to ramp up the velocity -- on both his slider and his fastball -- as he gets closer to a strikeout.

Did you know?
• Yankees starter Andy Pettitte is one win away from 250 for his career. He would be the 47th pitcher to reach the 250 win plateau. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, 23 pitchers have earned their 250th career win in the past 70 years, but only five had fewer losses at the time of their 250th win than Pettitte entering tonight: Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Jim Palmer and Tom Seaver.

Mariano Rivera
• Mariano Rivera hasn’t walked an Indians batter since July 14, 2002. That was arguably his worst career outing, when he gave up six runs (his most as a reliever) on five hits in 2/3 of an inning, blowing the save in dramatic fashion when Bill Selby hit a walk-off home run against him.

• Rivera has gone 24 straight games against the Indians without walking a batter, which is tied with the Royals for his longest active streak against any team. The longest walk-less streak in his career is against the Blue Jays, a 30-game streak from 2006-10.

• Rivera has a 3.16 ERA at Progressive Field, his second-highest at any AL ballpark, behind Angel Stadium (3.26).

Robinson Cano is hitting pitches up in the zone for a high average, but his power is coming against pitches in the lower half.

Kernels: A week of perfect fives

May, 19, 2013
Our weekly review of interesting and notable stats you might have missed.

Give Me Five
Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals went 5-for-5, with 5 RBI, in Monday's 11-4 victory against the Los Angeles Angels. And he had that big game without going deep. Butler's RBI came on two doubles and a single.

Butler was the first player to have five hits and five driven in since Josh Hamilton's four-homer game last season. And in franchise history, only one other Royal had reached five-and-five in the same game: Kevin Seitzer (6-for-6, 2 HR, 7 RBI) against the Red Sox on August 2, 1987.

On Tuesday, Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies also went 5-for-5 in a 9-4 win against the Chicago Cubs.

That was the first five-hit game by a Colorado batter in three years, and two of those hits left the yard. That made CarGo just the third player in franchise history to have five hits, including two homers, in a single game. Andres Galarraga had a six-hit, two-homer game in 1995, and Vinny Castilla did it in a 12-inning contest in July 1997.

And the week wasn't over. Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers went 5-for-5 in Saturday's 7-2 victory against the Tigers. He's the first leadoff hitter to go a perfect 5-for-5 (or better) since Derek Jeter on July 9, 2011. That's the game where Jeter homered for his 3,000th hit.

Prior to this week there had been just one other five-hit game this season, by Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians on April 7.

Slugfest of the Week: Rays 12, Orioles 10
The Rays scored seven runs off starter Jason Hammel, added three more off Sean Burnett (who needed 28 pitches to get one out), and were up 12-4 before Jeremy Hellickson got in trouble in the 8th. A Nate McLouth triple started the inning, and the Orioles strung together five straight two-out hits en route to a six-run frame.

The teams combined for 30 hits (only nine games this season have gotten there; the high is 33 by the Diamondbacks and Cardinals on April 3), and each team had six extra-base hits.

Both starters gave up 10 hits and at least seven runs. That hadn't happened in any game since July 20, 2009, when the Minnesota Twins' Nick Blackburn and Gio Gonzalez "dueled" in a 14-13 Oakland Athletics win.

On the other hand, Hellickson walked just one hitter and Hammel two, and that combination (10-plus hits, seven-plus runs, max of two walks) hadn't been achieved by a pair of starters in more than a decade. John Patterson of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Mets' Al Leiter each posted that line on August 4, 2002.

The Orioles also had two triples (Yamaico Navarro had the other), the first time they've done that in almost three years (July 7, 2010, at Detroit). That had been the longest drought without a multi-triple game by any team.

Winning Ugly
Hellickson got the win in that game on Friday despite being charged with eight runs. But he wasn't the only one this week.

Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants worked into the seventh inning against the Rockies on Thursday, allowing six runs and three homers. He got the win only because Jhoulys Chacin gave up eight runs.

On Friday, Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals pitched 5 1/3 innings with six runs allowed, but won because Wily Peralta of the Brewers allowed seven.

There have been five instances this season of a pitcher allowing six or more runs and getting a win, all in the last 10 days. And the last time three pitchers did it in two days was on April 13, 2009, when Edinson Volquez, Gavin Floyd, and Koji Uehara all barely made it through the required five innings.

The last two-day span where all three pitchers went beyond the five-inning minimum was May 25-26, 1992. Those lucky winners were Butch Henry of the Astros, Charles Nagy of the Indians, and the Orioles' (and ESPN's) Rick Sutcliffe.

Right-handed hitting Wright hitting to right

May, 31, 2012
Getty Images/Trevor Ebaugh/ESPN Stats & InformationDavid Wright’s pattern has been base hits to the right side, outs to the left side.
The New York Mets went 15-13 in May, and a big reason for their success was the play of third baseman David Wright.

Wright has easily been the best offensive player for the Mets, and May 2012 was one of the best months of his career. Here's a closer look to see how he has been able to be so successful.

First-inning success
It all begins with Wright’s first at-bat. In the first inning this month, Wright posted a 1.253 OPS (.429/.538/.714) with five walks and four strikeouts. Six of his nine hits were doubles, and he went 5-for-9 with 5 RBI with runners on base.

Opposite-field approach
In May, Wright had 16 hits in 23 at-bats ending with contact to the opposite field. That .696 average leads the league, and was more than 50 points higher than the next-closest hitter. He had only five fly-ball outs to left or left-center (see spray chart above), an impressive feat for a right-handed hitter. His 1.261 slugging percentage to the opposite field was second-best in the majors by a fraction to Andrew McCutchen's 1.263. Wright’s eight doubles were second only to Adrian Gonzalez's nine.

Righties not as intimidating
Historically, Wright has crushed left-handed pitching (.340/.436/.584). In May, he did it against righties as well. He batted .369/.431/.646 against right-handed pitching in May, and 13 of his 16 extra-base hits -- including both of his home runs -- came off of right-handed pitching.

Seeing the fastball
Wright did most of his damage against fastballs, recording 19 of his 34 hits this month when the pitcher threw a two- or four-seam fastball. Wright also hammered cutters and sinkers, going 9-for-15 in at-bats that ended with the cutter or sinker.

His .509 average and 1.457 OPS in at-bats ending on non-offspeed pitches are the best of any player in May (through games of May 30).

The only way pitchers retired Wright this month was with breaking balls. Wright hit just .190 in at-bats ending with a curveball or slider, tying him with Freddie Freeman and Dee Gordon for 118th in the majors. But Wright showed discipline, chasing only 14.3 percent of breaking balls out of the zone, which was tied with Carlos Santana for the second-lowest rate this month (Jamey Carroll, 10 percent).

Yankees No. 2 now 2 away from history

July, 8, 2011
Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter took one step closer to history with a first-inning double giving him 2,998 career hits. He went hitless in his next four at-bats so he enters Friday just two hits away from becoming the 28th player in MLB history to reach the 3,000 hit mark. The New York Yankees next three games are at home against the Tampa Bay Rays. Jeter is 1-for-2 lifetime against Friday's probable starter Jeremy Hellickson and has a .309 career average against Rays pitching.

So how likely is it that Jeter can record two hits on Friday?

Of his 2,361 career games he has recorded two or more hits 881 times (37.3 percent). He has two or more hits in 19 games this season including three in his last 11 games. And he has four, two-hit games over his last nine contests versus the Rays.

Elsewhere around the league two teams got down early but refused to lose in the end.

The Chicago Cubs overcame an 8-0 deficit by scoring 10 runs in the final four innings to defeat the Washington Nationals. It's the first time the Cubs have erased an eight-run deficit to win since May 30, 2008 against the Colorado Rockies. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that prior to Thursday’s victory, the Cubs were 0-567 all-time in road games in which they trailed by eight or more runs in the sixth inning or later.

Over in the American League, the Cleveland Indians scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays thanks to a walk-off grand slam by Travis Hafner. Entering Thursday, Hafner had hit only one home run in his previous 81 at-bats in Late-Inning Pressure Situations, dating back to September 2009. It was the second walk-off grand slam this season; the other was also by the Indians, on April 29 versus the Detroit Tigers by Carlos Santana. Oh and the last team to have multiple walk-off slams in a season? The Indians in 2002.

Finally we head west to highlight an ace that is making a strong case to start this year’s All-Star game.

Since Los Angeles Angels starter Jered Weaver suffered a four-game losing streak in May he's gone 5-0 with a 1.27 ERA. Thursday he recorded his fourth complete game of the season, tied for third-most in MLB. His 1.86 ERA through 19 starts is the second-best in Angels' history.

Weaver has also now gone five straight starts with 7+ IP and 1 ER or fewer allowed, which is tied for the third-longest such streak in Angels' history and longest since Mike Witt had a five-start streak like that in 1986. The only longer streaks are two six-start streaks, by George Brunet in 1968 and Dean Chance in 1964.
Today’s Trivia: On Monday, the Los Angeles Angels' Jered Weaver looks to become the first American League pitcher since Zack Greinke in 2009 to win each of his first six starts. Who was the last American League pitcher to lose each of his first six starts in a season?

Jered Weaver
Weaver is off to one of the hottest starts in the American League, but there are several others who are not:

• The New York Yankees' Brett Gardner is hitting .140, which ranks last among 187 qualifying hitters. He’s 0-for-21 with 10 strikeouts on at-bats ending in an off-speed pitch.

• Gardner’s teammate Nick Swisher is 4-for-43 (.093) against right-handed pitches, a year after hitting a career-best .285 with 25 home runs against them.

• As a member of the Washington Nationals last season, Adam Dunn hit .314 with 24 home runs on at-bats ending in a fastball. In his first season in the American League, Dunn’s hitting .067 with two hits in 30 at-bats.

• The Chicago White Sox's Alex Rios is hitless in his last 20 at-bats, and has seen his batting average drop to .160. Last season, on pitches down the middle, Rios hit .392. This season? 1-for-12 (.083).

• The Angels Vernon Wells is 1-for-29 (.034) with two strikes in the count.

• Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury already has struck out looking 11 times this season, tied for the most in the majors.

• The Oakland Athletics' Daric Barton is 0-for-19 this season on pitches located up in the strike zone or above the strike zone. Last season, he hit .315 (34-108) on those pitches.

• With a 29.4 swing percent, Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana has been swinging at fewer pitches than anyone else in the league. (He was at 38.7 last season.) But the bigger discrepancy is his swing percent at pitches in the strike zone. Last season it was 61.9. In 2011, it’s just 47.2, fifth lowest in the majors.

Sunday was Derek Jeter’s first four-hit game before the month of May since April 9, 2001, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Jeter now has 36 four-hit games in his career, tied for third among Yankees in the Live Ball era (since 1920). Lou Gehrig has the most with 53 followed by Earle Combs’ 37.

Staying with the Yankees, A.J. Burnett is 8-0 in the month of April as a member of the Yankees, and 18-24 after April. The Yankees will be facing Phil Humber tonight at Yankee Stadium. Opponents are hitting just .061 (2-33) against Humber’s off-speed pitches this season.

Trivia Answer: In 2007, Jered’s brother Jeff Weaver was 0-6 after six starts for the Seattle Mariners.

The Closer: Pitching not perfect Saturday … but close

July, 4, 2010
How Red Sox starter Jon Lester improved to 12-0 lifetime against the Orioles:
- Lester got 13 groundballs against 5 fly balls. At 72.2 pct, that’s his highest percentage since April 23 (also against Baltimore).
- The Orioles did not put 1 of Lester's 13 two-strike fastballs in play and struck out 4 times against the pitch.
- Lester got 6 of his 7 strikeouts on pitches low in the strike zone. He kept the ball out of the middle of the zone vertically, with 92 of his 100 pitches judged by Inside Edge to be either up in the zone, down in the zone, or out of zone high or low.

How Tigers starter Justin Verlander beat the Mariners:
- He had a miss pct of 27.9 (2nd-best this season).
- His chase pct was 34.0 (2nd-best this season).
- He threw and offspeed pitch on his first pitch 34.5 pct of the time (2nd-most this season).
- His offspeed stuff set up his heater: 8 swings-and-misses (2nd-most this season) and 7 K (most this season) vs fastball.

Ubaldo Jiménez had a rough 3rd Inning. How rough?

- Allowed 1st career grand slam (Travis Ishikawa).
- Allowed as many earned runs (7) as he did in April and May combined.
- Had given up 7 ER in a start just twice in career prior to Saturday
- ERA rose from 1.83 to 2.33<>Through 3rd inning (not after)

Stephen Strasburg struck out 5 in 5 innings. His 53 strikeouts in his first 6 games are 3rd-most all-time.

Saturday’s Longest No-Hit Bids
Saturday was the 2nd day this season that 2 pitchers each took a no-hit bid into the 7th inning. The 1st was June 13, when Ted Lilly and Gavin Floyd did it in the same game. Randy Wells and Bruce Chen each made it through 6 full innings before allowing a hit leading off the 7th. Chen had been perfect through 6, which was the first time in 7 starts this season that he took a perfect game bid beyond the 1st inning. In all 6 of his previous starts, he allowed a hit in the 1st inning.

Rolling Rookie
How about the consideration for a rookie, with 3 weeks of major league experience to make the All-Star team? We’re not talking about Stephen Strasburg, but Indians rookie Carlos Santana, who ranked 2nd among the teams’ hitters in WAR. The catcher position for the American League, with injuries to multiple players of significance, is a bit on the depleted side, and there’s a vacancy for an Indian with Shin-Soo Choo headed to the disabled list. Santana was 0-for-3 Saturday, but his 2 walks gave him 17 in 21 games and kept his on-base percentage well above .400

Managing similarity
Saturday was Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson’s 2nd game. In his 2nd game as a player, his team won, 14-1. Today in his 2nd game as manager, his team lost, 14-1.

Mike Leake has allowed a .529 (9-17) opp BA (league average: .314) on 1st pitches during his current 4-game losing streak.

Mark Teixeira has not had a hit against Toronto's right handed-pitchers (0/8). He is batting .111 when behind in the count (1/9), batting .000 when ahead in the count (0/5) and 2 of his 3 hits against Toronto in 2010 came off the 1st pitch of the at-bat.

1st Pitch: Who's hot in June?

June, 11, 2010
Quick Hits: The weather is heating up and so are the hitters. Here’s a look at a few players who are crushing the ball in the month of June.
  • Marlon Byrd is batting .516 (16-31) this month, raising his average on the season to .329.
  • Victor Martinez, who hit just .238 in April and .276 in May, is batting .486 in June.
  • Julio Borbon, who got off to a terribly slow start this season, is on fire in June, batting .467.
  • Carlos Pena already has 5 home runs this month, two more than he had in all of May and matching his total from April.
  • Josh Hamilton may be the month’s hottest hitter, he’s batting .436 with 4 home runs a league-leading 15 RBI.
Today’s Trivia: In what has already been a great week for rookies, top catching prospect Carlos Santana has been called up to make his debut for the Indians tonight. Who was the last Indian to win the rookie of the year award?

Today’s Leaderboard: Luke Gregerson and Mike Adams each pitched a perfect inning of relief in the Padres win in game one of their double header on Thursday. Gregerson and Adams lead the majors in perfect relief appearances of at least one inning.

Key Matchups: Jim Thome and Tim Hudson will likely face off for the first time since 2005 tonight. In his career against Hudson, Thome is batting .563 (9-16) with 4 home runs, 9 RBI and 2.057 OPS.

David Ortiz is slumping again, batting .037 with 0 home runs in his last 8 games. Maybe facing Jamie Moyer will wake him up again. Ortiz is batting .361 with 5 home runs against Moyer. The only pitcher which Ortiz has taken deep more often is Roy Halladay (6 home runs).

Trivia Answer: Current Indians first base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. won the award in 1990, in what turned out to be a great rookie class. Among others receiving votes: Kevin Appier, John Olerud, Travis Fryman and Robin Ventura.

BP: Filling five problematic positions

April, 21, 2010
You don't always have to settle for a patch -- sometimes it pays to go with a whole new suit. Take the Astros' predicament while Lance Berkman was out. Pedro Feliz or Geoff Blum at first base -- what were the Astros thinking? Their hands were somewhat forced by the seven-man bullpen and the 40-man roster, but let's face it, when the in-house alternative is a non-rostered repeat reject Chris Shelton, it wasn't like they had a Plan B. That said, a number of teams have problem positions -- but also on-hand aid they should plug and play.

Atlanta Braves
Problem: Corner offense from a lineup with a .255 True Average (11th in the NL).
Solution: More Eric Hinske (.280 TAv 2008-10).

Troy Glaus has had a fine career, but he's 18 months and a major shoulder surgery removed from everyday play at first base, and he's struggling. Melky Cabrera's gone from leading off on Opening Day to someone the Braves don't trust. Whether spotting for Glaus at first base against tougher right-handers, or for Cabrera in left when they can risk Hinske's DH-worthy outfield glove when ground-ballers Derek Lowe or Tim Hudson take the bump, the lineup needs more of the lefty slugger.

San Francisco Giants
Problem: Todd Wellemeyer in the rotation.
Solution: Anybody else.

Whatever black magic veteran hurlers benefit from while working with Dave Duncan in St. Louis, Wellemeyer wasn't getting any benefit there last season (5.89 ERA), and watching him get lit up now (9.58 ERA) should remind people that by April, you really need to take down the Christmas tree. Even if prospect Madison Bumgarner isn't ready, the Giants can easily turn to organizational soldiers Joe Martinez or Kevin Pucetas, and get back that 40-man roster slot spent on Wellemeyer.

Cleveland Indians
Problem: The Lou Marson Era behind the plate.
Solution: You can't go wrong playing some Santana.

The Indians are in the mediocre AL Central, so you have to consider them contenders by default. And with a .233 team TAv that ranks 28th in the majors, they can't afford to skip scoring all season. Marson was supposed to be a good catch-and-throw guy with just enough offense that maybe he'd stick around. He's been hopeless at the plate (-.117 TAv), and scouts haven't been impressed with his receiving skills now that he's handling big league pitchers. Meanwhile, all-world catching prospect Carlos Santana is destroying the International League, hitting .341/.413/.683, which translates to a .351 TAv in the bigs. The Indians are obviously trying to delay his service time, but they're minimizing their already slim playoff chances in the process.

Chicago White Sox
Problem: Getting offense at DH and Catcher.
Solution: It's springtime, so plant Flowers.

It's already just a matter of time before left-handed-hitting catching prospect Tyler Flowers arrives to stay in The Show. He's already off to a decent start at Triple-A Charlotte (translated .261 TAv), and the South Side needs runs, ranking 27th in MLB in True Average at .243. A.J. Pierzynski (.145 TAv) is cold at the plate and in the walk year of his contract. And while Mark Kotsay is a popular bench player, he's not a starting DH (.127 TAv). Between the DH at-bats against right-handers and the opportunity to sit Pierzynski to get Flowers time behind the plate, the Sox should squeeze in Flowers as soon as possible.

Oakland Athletics
Problem: Offense from outfield and DH.
Solution: Play Jake Fox now or Chris Carter and Michael Taylor later.

Fox may be a bad defender at all five corners (since he's also the club's backup catcher), but his PECOTA-projected .275 TAv shouldn't go to waste while Travis Buck, Rajai Davis, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Eric Chavez are all struggling. Davis has to play center with Coco Crisp on the DL, and Bob Geren's been mixing and matching, but he may as well give Fox some more reps as there is a good chance he's the best hitter of the bunch.

Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

Top 25 players under 25: part one (No. 21-25)

April, 11, 2010
Starting today we are going to start unveiling our top 25 players in the majors under the age of 25.

The criteria to make the list:

- Must be under 25 years old on Opening Day 2010.
- Must have MLB experience.
- MLB results matter more than projected future stats or “talent” level. (If we were doing a list based on potential, Jason Heyward, Carlos Santana, Buster Posey and Austin Jackson etc. would be on this list).
- Our 25-man "team" must carry ordinary MLB requirements (two catchers, all positions and DH covered plus a bench and 12 pitchers).

We'll unveil the bottom 5 today and work our way up the next 4 days.

25. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, TEX, 24
2009: .233 BA, .290 OBP, 9 HR in 84 games.
-In danger of earning the dreaded lifetime prospect distinction, “Salty” should start behind the plate for the Rangers this season. His tools can’t be ignored, and legitimate power-hitting catchers are not easy to find. But legitimate power-hitting catchers do not have a .180 WHAvg, .371 SLG% nor an OPS of .661, and his 33% chase percentage and 31% K% do not help his case either. But every team needs two catchers, and this one is no different. A strong season from Saltalamacchia could do well to justify his spot on this list; otherwise, he’s a mere placeholder for the likes of Carlos Santana or Buster Posey in 2011.

24. Elvis Andrus, TEX, 21
2009: .267 BA, .329 OBP, .702 OPS, 33 SB
-Of the top 14 stolen base leaders in the American League last year, only Ian Kinsler (.327) and B.J. Upton (.313) had worse OBP numbers then Andrus. In a Texas system that should produce some top notch offensive talent in the next couple years (ESPN’s Keith Law ranked the Rangers’ organization as the number one farm system in baseball), Andrus can improve his runs scored and stolen base totals significantly if he can make better contact in the zone (.662 OPS on pitches in strike zone last year) and work some walks with a little more frequency (7.4% BB% in 2009). With Julio Borbon at the top of the order, there won’t be too much pressure on Andrus to produce offensively, particularly given his ability with the leather.

23. Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE,
2009: .308 BA, 68 RBI, 81 runs, 17 SB, .799 OPS
- Cleveland’s switch-hitting shortstop took some solid steps forward in 2009, but was still vulnerable against breaking pitches from both sides of the plate. Cabrera hit .125 on 198 curves and sliders on the inside part of the plate last season. Pitchers needed to work the inner third effectively, because Cabrera hit .333 on the outer third. However, even with the 49-point average jump from 2008, Cabrera’s OBP only saw a 15-point spike, and his walks percentage (7.6%) is still well behind the league average of 8.9%. However, he can get away with it at times because he’s so hard to finish off. Cabrera only strikes out in 31% of 2 strike at-bats, missing 17% of swings with 2 strikes, and won’t help pitchers early, chasing only 15% of pitches in non-2 strike counts. Those numbers will almost certainly help him improve on his walks percentage in 2010, showing why he’s a very viable option to lead off the Cleveland order.

22. Daniel Bard, BOS, 24
2009: 3.65 ERA, 63 strikeouts in 49.1 IP
- While Bard’s ERA might not impress you for a reliever, the 3:1 K/BB ratio certainly will. Daniel’s 100MPH fastball coupled with a crafty slider allowed him to effectively work out of jams, keeping 76% of inherited runners from scoring. 52 percent of Bard’s innings were completed in 1-2-3 fashion, and 22 percent of his outs recorded came via a 4-pitch or fewer strikeout.

21. Neftali Feliz, TEX, 21
2009: 1.74 ERA, 39 strikeouts and 8 walks in 31.0 IP
- Feliz had a tremendous, but brief stint in the majors this past season. In 20 appearances, Feliz held opposing batters to a .124 batting average. Feliz turned 2-strike at-bats into outs 89 percent of the time (league avg. = 72 percent). With a WHIP of .677 and a K/BB ratio of nearly 5:1, Feliz represents the Rangers as their closer of the future, and perhaps present.

Check back tomorrow for players 16-20.

Dude, where's my Car-los?

March, 2, 2010
The name Carlos used to evoke an image of power and strength. But no more.

Carlos Delgado is hurting. Carlos Beltran is hurting. Carlos Quentin and Carlos Zambrano were hurting (Zambrano showed power and strength in attacking a Gatorade cooler). Carlos Pena led the AL in home runs, but is coming off a season with a .227 batting average, and I’ve read some say he’s heading into a decline coming into his free agent season. Carlos Lee produced, with a .300 batting average and 26 home runs (his fewest since 2002), but his teams win total declined by 12 from 2008 to 2009 and finished with just 75 victories. Carlos Guillen played in his fewest games (81) since 2000.

Over the last three seasons, the Carlos’s have slugged 502 home runs. Only one first name has slugged more home runs than that, and we’ll note which that is at the conclusion of this post.

What we’re left to wonder for 2010 is a question which we pose to you.

Can you tell us which Carlos will hit the most home runs in 2010?

The lead candidate for the top spot would seem to be Pena, and his three straight 30+ home run seasons (a Carlos has hit 30+ every year since 1997), but is it not possible that Lee could maintain the consistent level necessary to wrest away the top spot (he’s hit 25+ in eight straight seasons)?

Or could Quentin hit home runs at the same rate that netted him 36 in 2008? Beltran would seem to be a longshot, and Zambrano would be good for some yuks, but a fun pick might be a year or so away- top Indians catching prospect Carlos Santana hit 23 in Double-A last season.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, or vote in our "Carlos" poll.

And by the way, the first name with most home runs over the last three seasons: Ryan, with 617.