Wednesday, June 4, 2014

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #138 BENITO SANTIAGO

POSSESSED A LOT OF FLASH BEHIND THE PLATE.



PLAYED TWO SEASONS IN FLORIDA.



DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Benito Santiago got around as a catcher during his 20 years in the league. He played for nine teams, but made his name with his first organization, the Padres, winning the 1987 NL Rookie of the Year and putting together a rookie record 34-game hitting streak. He finished his career with a slash line of .263/.307/.415, 217 homers and 920 RBI. He also won four Silver Slugger awards, but also had a reputation as one of the better defensive catchers , often showing off his arm by needlessly throwing out runners from his knees. It was still pretty cool to watch him do it.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • Santiago delivered the decisive blow in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Cardinals on Oct. 13, 2002. After #103 Barry Bonds was walked intentionally with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Santiago made the Cardinals pay, homering off Rick White. The Giants won 4-2 and wrapped up the NL championship in Game 5.

DEFINING SEASON

  • In his rookie season in '87, Santiago hit .300 in a full season for the only time, with 18 homers, 79 RBI and 21 steals.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. While Santiago was known as a standout defensive catcher, he struggled in his rookie season, committing a league-high 22 errors.
  2. Beginning in '88, he won the first of three Gold Gloves, throwing out 45 percent of base-stealers.
  3. He was traded only once, in '04 and near the end of his career, signing as a free agent with eight different teams.
  4. Voted the '02 NLCS MVP after hitting .300 with two homers and six RBI.
  5. Linked to performance enhancing drugs in the Mitchell Report and the book Game of Shadows.

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