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Carlos Santana continues two-month hot streak with monster weekend

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

Carlos Santana hit five home runs this weekend.
Carlos Santana hit five home runs this weekend. (USATSI)

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On May 10, 37 games into the season, Indians catcher/corner infielder Carlos Santana was sitting on a weak .567 OPS. It wasn't his nadir -- he had a .496 OPS on April 27 -- but he was mired in an ugly 1-for-28 slump at the time.

I'd say 37 games is right on the edge of "he's having a slow start" and "there's something really wrong here." Santana hit .268/.377/.455 with 20 home runs just last season and he came into 2014 as a career .254/.367/.446 hitter in parts of four MLB seasons. A sudden fall into sub-.600 OPS territory at age 28 was not expected.

Since May 10, however, Santana has been one of the most devastating hitters in baseball. He's put up a stellar .288/.412/.567 batting line with 16 home runs in his last 59 games, ranking fourth in the game in on-base percentage and sixth in slugging percentage during that time. Only nine players have more homers.

If you shorten the timeframe up a little more, Santana has hit .311/.419/.627 with 14 home runs in his last 44 games, dating back to June 7. He's hitting .415/.529/.951 since the All-Star break, with at least as many homers in the second half (six) as 12 teams. Santana hit five home runs this weekend alone:

The Indians moved Santana to third base earlier this season as a way to get both him and catcher Yan Gomes into the lineup everyday. Santana played the position in the minors but it was an ambitious move at this point of his career. It's possible the position switch hurt his offense. It wouldn't be the first time that's happened to a player.

The third base experiment ended in mid May, right around the time Santana's hot hitting began, and he has since settled in as Cleveland's everyday first baseman. His .232 batting average is nothing exciting at all, but his combination of power (ninth in the AL with 20 homers) and on-base ability (league-leading 72 walks) makes him very dangerous at the plate.

We can't ignore the slow start to the season, of course, but Santana has rebounded very well and his overall numbers make him one of the best hitters in the league in 2014.

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