Cincinnati Reds in Review: SS Ramon Santiago

facebooktwitterreddit

Last off-season, the Ferris wheel kept spinning when it came to reserve middle infielders. The Cincinnati Reds added Ramon Santiago, a long-time veteran who brought versatility to a club that would end up badly needing it.

The acquisition brought to mind the formula the Reds have followed by signing veteran presences to back up everyday shortstop Zack Cozart, having notably inked Edgar Renteria, Wilson Valdez and Cesar Izturis.

Ramon Santiago – Shortstop

 

A quote from Santiago’s BaseballReference.com page, “He’s…a great role model for all of his fans,” represents just exactly what the veteran infielder is all about: consistency.

There has been only one season in his career where Santiago has reached the 100-hit plateau, and that was 100 on the nose with the Detroit Tigers back in 2003. At that point, the Boston Red Sox still hadn’t won a World Series since that Babe Ruth fellow, LeBron James was just beginning his career, and the Reds won all of 69 games.

In order to last in the Major Leagues for over a decade while never truly being an everyday player is a testament to how devoted Santiago is to his craft. He debuted with the Detroit Tigers in 2002, before spending two seasons with the Seattle Mariners in 2004 and 2005. After that, he rejoined Detroit from 2006-2013. Before this season, he had all of 47 at-bats with a team not named the Tigers in his career.

Well versed all around the infield (third base, shortstop, second base), Santiago made his first career appearance in left field for the Reds this season. His versatility was crucial, especially when he began to play on a semi-regular basis towards the middle of the season.

Santiago’s stats may not be eye-popping, but it’s important to put them in context. Here is a player who would go weeks without getting so much as an at-bat, then at the drop of a hat, would be in the lineup for 4-5 straight days and expected to produce at a high level.

Santiago’s Stat Line:

 

.246/.343/.324, 179 AB’s, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 91 OPS+ (his highest since 2008)

Top Ramon Santiago Moment:

 

There really is no contest on this one. Despite going only 1-for-5 in the game, Ramon Santiago’s thrilling walk-off Grand Slam to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 27 easily takes the cake.

Coming into the second to last day of the season, Santiago had only gone deep once—and that was as a left-handed batter on the road at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The Pittsburgh Pirates would bring a rookie left-handed reliever named Bobby LaFromboise to pitch to Santiago, who would promptly crank a deep shot to left field that found its way into the people.

For those that stuck around with a team that was difficult to watch at many points, Santiago’s Grand Slam at season’s end did its best to erase five-plus months of memories.

Low-Point of the Season for Ramon Santiago:

 

For a player that managed to stay on the Reds’ roster for the entirety of the season, there cannot be too bad of a low-point. But as was mentioned early, it certainly was not easy for Santiago to perform at a high level while getting so few plate appearances. On eight separate occasions, Santiago went more than four days without so much as entering a game.

Final Grade: C+

 

There are no statistics to properly quantify how valuable Santiago was to the roster and just how much his veteran experience helped younger players. His numbers were not gaudy, and they were never expected to be, but in the time he did fill in, he did a solid job of performing.

Currently, Santiago is a free agent. With Kristopher Negron’s emergence at the conclusion of last season, it’s unlike Santiago will be back. One thing is for sure though; whichever team picks up the veteran is going to get a model of consistency.