Carlos Santana Barely Topped the Mendoza Line Before Signing the Bottom Line of Huge Contract
When a player whose batting average was below the Mendoza Line received a multi-million dollar free agent contract, you know it must have happened at this current time of craziness. Throw in the fact that the player is 34 years old, and it only adds to the incredulity.
As if Major League Baseball in 2020 had not been strange enough during its shortened sixty game season, its off season has started off most unusually as well. Beyond the hiring of skippers to a record number of players being nontendered, clubs have made some headscratching decisions that would have seemed odd even in a non-pandemic season.
Not long after two managers came off of suspension, A. J. Hinch was hired to oversee the dugout of the Detroit Tigers and Alex Cora found employment as skipper of the Boston Red Sox. A week later another unusual managerial hire occurred, when the Chicago White Sox convinced long-retired Tony Larussa to take over the reins.
Nor has the zaniness been limited to managers, as this past week has shown us. Carlos Santana the first baseman, as opposed to the rock guitarist, just inked a lucrative deal with the Kansas City Royals.
Since he once was a perennial All-Star with the Cleveland Indians, it would not seem surprising that Santana could land the $17.5 million contract. He is, however, 34 years old, and he batted a mere .199 last season.
At no other time in baseball history could a first baseman who batted under .200 land such a deal, especially one in the 34th year of his life. Welcome to the last month of 2020 which, if the Santana deal is any indication, will be just as unpredictable as the previous nine months.
Santana is not the only former All-Star to finish below or right around the Mendoza Line last season, as a quick look at the ten worst averages indicate. Cincinnati third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who a season ago finished as runner-up as National League Most Valuable Player, batted .202.
Just a microscopic point ahead of Suarez, Chicago's star shortstop managed only a .203 average. A former MVP runner up like Suarez, Javier Baez's mark ranked as the tenth worst in all of baseball.
Among the bottom ten as well were several other All-Stars, including Oakland's Matt Olson. The first baseman fared even worse than Santana, finishing with a .195 batting average.
Second baseman Max Muncy, in spite of celebrating a World Series Championship with the Los Angeles Dodgers, finished three points under Olson at .192. The most notable of the four players below Muncy has to be Kyle Schwarber, popular presence for last five years in Wrigley Field.
Just a few seasons removed from a heroic contribution to Chicago's World Series Championship, Schwarber's already declining batting average dipped all the way down to .188. It was unfortuante for him and his teammates, since the Cubs got unproductive years from the aforementioned Baez as well as former MVP Kris Bryant and All-Star Anthony Rizzo.
It is good news for Schwarber, however, that Santana landed a big free agent deal. Now that Schwarber has been non-tendered by the Cubs, he, too, can turn that .188 batting average into a multi-million dollar contract.