When thinking of the Los Angels Angels most come up with one name, Mike Trout. And why shouldn’t they? He is baseball’s golden goose, a superstar playing in the media circus of Southern California.
However, when it comes to the Angels playoff chances, Trout isn’t L.A.’s only player of significance.
Hector Santiago has quietly become one the games best pitchers. He doesn’t get the fanfare of Angels starter, C.J. Wilson, but he is every bit as good, if not better.
Originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox, Santiago came to the Angels via trade. Thus far, Santiago has surpassed all team expectations, especially during the 2015 season. He has gone an impressive 7-5 with a 2.78 ERA during his 21 starts.
What’s made Santiago so much more efficient this season are his incredible assortment of pitches.
The crafty lefty has five consistent pitches at his disposal. His go to option is a deadly sinker which he uses a whopping 56.8 percent of the time. The rest of his pitching arsenal consists of a curveball, slider, changeup and four-seam fastball.
The biggest difference from seasons past is that Santiago has become less reliant on his four-seamer. He only throws the pitch 2.8 percent of the time, down considerably from the 23 percent he threw the pitch in previous years.
The adjustments Santiago made have paid off, as he was named to his first All-Star game in 2015. It’s quite the accomplishment for someone who didn’t go into Spring Training with a guaranteed roster spot. However, that speaks more to the player Santiago is.
“It shows that all that work and time I put in trying to get all the mechanics down and repeat everything worked out,” Santiago said upon his selection to the A.L. All-Star team. “I’m in a good place right now. This is the reward.”
If the Los Angeles Angels are indeed one of the American League’s two wild card teams, it could very well be Santiago that gets the starting nod for the play in game. He has been one of baseball’s most improved players, and has the stuff to be a top of the rotation pitcher for years to come.
While Hector Santiago might not be as integral to the Angels as Mike Trout, he certainly can’t be forgotten.