Carlos Santana homered in both games of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Twins and the Indians switch-hitter has been such a force at the plate that it’s hard to remember he was hitting .159 as of June 1.
But it’s true, Santana had a .159 batting average through two months of the season while struggling defensively in an attempt to transition from catcher to third base.
Coincidence or not Santana’s last game at third base came on May 22 and since then he’s hit .279 with a .404 on-base percentage and .543 slugging percentage in 89 games, including 22 homers, 17 doubles, and 64 walks on the way to a .947 OPS.
Among all American League hitters during that same span Santana ranks first in walks, third in on-base percentage, fourth in homers, and sixth in slugging percentage. And now, even including his brutal first two months, Santana’s overall OPS is .818 compared to his career mark of .815. That’s a helluva turnaround.
The Yankees’ 2019 run ended in heartbreak on Saturday night when, despite a stunning ninth-inning comeback, they fell 6-4 to the Astros and officially lost their bid for the AL pennant. Now, facing a long offseason, there are a few decisions to be made.
One of those falls on the shoulders of outfielder Aaron Hicks, who told reporters that he “thinks he can continue playing without Tommy John surgery.” It’s unclear whose recommendation he’s basing that decision on, however, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch points out that Tommy John surgery was recommended during the slugger’s most recent meeting with Dr. Neal ELAttrache.
Hicks originally sustained a season-ending right flexor strain in early August and held several consultations with ElAttrache and the Yankees’ physician in the months that followed. He spent two and a half months on the 60-day injured list and finally returned to the Yankees’ roster during the ALCS, in which he went 2-for-13 with a base hit and a Game 5 three-run homer against the Astros.
Of course, a handful of strong performances doesn’t definitively prove that the outfielder is fully healed — or that he’ll be able to avoid aggravating the injury with further activity. Granted, Tommy John surgery isn’t a minor procedure; it’s one that requires up to a year of rest and rehabilitation before most players are cleared to throw again. Should Hicks wait to reverse his decision until he reports for spring training in 2020, though, it could push his return date out by another six months or so.