I looked up Sergio Santos’s stats the other day, and I was surprised. I knew that he had originally been a middle infielder – he had been in the Jays’ system for a while – but I didn’t realize how quickly he got to the majors as a pitcher after having made the conversion. In 2008, he was still a shortstop and third baseman; in 2009, he was pitching in the minors, but not very well; in 2010, he was in the majors for the entire season; in 2011, he was the White Sox closer. This is an incredibly rapid ascension, thanks to a slider that, at its best, was basically unhittable.
My guess as to what happened is that Santos just wasn’t familiar enough with pitching to either maintain consistent command of his stuff or stay healthy. In Toronto, he produced excellent results for short periods of time, but spent a lot of the time injured, and the rest of it trying to throw the round thing over the five-sided thing.
He’s probably not out of chances yet – somebody will look at his 2013 numbers and start dreaming – but there are a lot of pitchers out there with great stuff who just need to figure out how to harness it, and who are still hoping that success is around the corner. It’s probably a bit twee to end a baseball post with a quotation from The Great Gatsby, but I think it might be relevant here, and I love the line:
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. … And one fine morning —- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”