No one goes on a heater quite like Anthony Santander, and the one he’s in the middle of right now ranks among the best in a career full of them.
Santander, who hit his fifth home run in eight games Wednesday to provide a highlight in a disappointing loss to end the Orioles’ homestand, has driven in 14 runs in that span with a 1.411 OPS.
He’s had a few stretches better, one in late 2019 and another in 2020 as he solidified himself as a potential impact bat. What the Orioles need now, however, is for this one to continue as they push into September with aspirations to win the AL East and play deep into October.
Looking back on Santander’s past hot streaks, there’s not a lot of commonality among them. Some, like this one, come after he’s had a day off or recovers from some kind of soreness. Others come out of nowhere. What’s clear, however, is how significant a role they’ve played in his career.
He’s played 563 games with the Orioles, swatting 109 home runs in that span. One of those home runs came while he was satisfying the roster requirements after being a Rule 5 draft pick in 2017-18, so for the sake of fairness we can throw that home run and those 46 games out.
When tallying the results of his hot streaks over his five seasons as a full-time player, the home runs in these little spans amount to 58 in 78 games, leaving 50 in the remaining 439 games. It’s not even worth considering what kind of hitter he’d be without these power bursts. This is what he’s done for five years now, particularly late in the season.
Santander’s first instance of hitting home runs in bunches came in 2019, when he smacked four in six games from July 19-24, then six in a scalding 12-game stretch from Aug. 25 to Sept. 7, a span in which he had a 1.157 OPS (all stats via BaseballReference.com’s Stathead platform). He appeared in 93 games that year; half of his 20 home runs came in those two stretches.
Santander essentially won the Most Valuable Oriole award in the shortened 2020 season for a 10-game stretch during which he hit seven home runs with a 1.422 OPS from Aug. 8-18; he had only four home runs in his remaining 27 games.
As he battled injuries throughout 2021, the power production from Santander was more muted and so were his home run streaks. He had four in three games from Aug. 8-11, four in four games from Aug. 21-25 and three in four games from Sept. 10-12. The remaining nine home runs he hit that season were spread over his other 99 games.
His best stretches in 2022, a season in which he hit a career-best 33 home runs, were four in seven games from June 10-22, four in five games from Sept. 1-5 and six in four games from Sept. 24-27.
This season has featured some modest hot streaks, the most notable being his five home runs in six games from June 18-25. He also hit three home runs in four games from July 9-16 and three in five games from May 15-19.
This one is by far his longest and most impactful of the season. With a 1.411 OPS in an eight-game span, this ranks only below his runs in August 2020 and one chunk of his late-season 2019 span by OPS. He’s not driven in this many runs in any other eight-game span in his career, either.
It says plenty about the Orioles’ season that this is just the fifth-best eight-game chunk of production by one of their hitters this year. Gunnar Henderson hit five home runs from June 2-13, a span in which he had a 1.534 OPS. Ryan Mountcastle started to heat up after the All-Star break and had six extra-base hits and six walks in eight games from July 24 to Aug. 2 for a 1.497 OPS.
Adley Rutschman, who started this season on fire, had a 1.496 OPS in eight games from April 7-14, and Ryan O’Hearn had a 1.426 OPS as he started to get consistent playing time June 10-20.
Santander has the opportunity to build on his, too. While he’s made a career out of getting hot like this, the first instance in 2019 included a series at Arizona’s Chase Field, where the Orioles begin a three-game series Friday. He homered twice there.