#51 - ERVIN SANTANA, P
There were times during his tenure that I thought Ervin Santana was going to be in the top ten of all time Angels he was so effortlessly masterful upon the mound. there were other times I thought he wouldn't crack the club's Top 100 he was so outrageously uninvolved form the disasters he spun with baserunners and home runs.
Inconsistency tends to be the norm in baseball, a game where hitters are heroes when they fail three out of ten times and where pitchers are not perfect unless they garner 27 outs from start to finish.
But Ervin Santana was a special kind of inconsistent. He would establish a pattern early each season, say for his penchant of pitching almost perfectly at home in night games and then terribly on the road. And just when that pattern would seem impossible to violate - boom - he'd pitch a gem on the road and surrender a few bombs in an Anaheim night game.
A touted prospect from the Dominican Republic, Santana got called up to the bigs in 2005. He made his debut in a day game on the road against the Indians. In his first inning he gave up the cycle - a single, double, triple and home run. He left after four innings having allowed eight hits, three walks and six earned runs. His next game was his debut at Angel Stadium. He pitched a five-hit shutout against the White Sox, walking only one batter and striking out seven.
He literally was night and day.
Ervin Santana pitched for the Angels for eight seasons. His greatest year was 2008 when he struck out 214 batters (thirteenth best in an Angels single season) in 219 Innings, winning sixteen games in the only season the Angels ever won 100. His 81 Hits per 9 Innings Pitched was the lowest of his career as was his 1.9 BB/9. Of his 12.9 Wins Above Replacement accrued n his Halo career, 5.0 of them came in 2008.
His greatest moment as an Angel happened in that rookie 2005 season. In Game 5 of the ALDS against the Yankees, Bartolo Colon faltered early and Santana came in for relief. He came into the scoreless game to start the top of the second inning and promptly gave up two runs. But he settled down and not allow a third run until the seventh. The Angels grabbed the lead back with three in the bottom of the second, two in the third and won it 5 to 3, with Ervin getting the W and the Angels winning only their fourth postseason series ever. Rookie playoff pressure meant nothing to him, he just said "F It, lets pitch".
His second greatest moment was his 2011 no hitter in Cleveland - all the more special because it was a day game at the place of such a disastrous MLB debut.
Ervin ranks seventh all time in Wins by an Angels pitcher with 96 (he had two season with 16 Wins and one with 17). His 7.11 K/9 ranks ninth for Angels pitchers with more than 500 IP. His 1,167 strikeouts ranks seventh all Time for an Angels pitcher, 55 more than Mark Langston in 30 more IP and 34 fewer than John Lackey in 26 less innings IP. He pitched seven Shut Outs and sixteen Complete Games.
There are reasons he doesn't rank higher, though, like his 475 Walks (sixth all time) and 203 HR surrendered (second most). He is in the team's top ten for Hits Allowed, Losses and Earned Runs Allowed.
Ervin always had a smile for the fans and a casual demeanor. His nickname was El Meneo which means Swishing ins Spanish and he had a hip shaking casual dawdle off the mound whether it was inning's end after three strikeouts or being pulled form a game after a disastrous implosion. The Angels traded him to Kansas City after a lousy 2012 season (the ERA+ of 74 that year was a career low). Of course he bounced back and had a 2013 season that tied his career high for ERA+ (127, also reached in 2008).
Because he shared the same first name as Magic Johnson, Ervin's nickname among many fans was magic. At times he definitely was and at other times there was a black magic spell out there on the mound. But when he was on he was great and the chance that he might be gave the Angels reason to send him out there for most of his seven full yeas with the club.