Santana was a light hitter valued by the defensively erratic 1986 World Champion Mets for his consistency at shortstop. Always a slow starter offensively, he hit a career-low .218 that season, not getting his average above .200 until the end of August, but was nonetheless in the lineup almost every day. He did have an important RBI in the Mets’ game-winning rally in the seventh inning of Game Seven of the World Series.
Not a wide-ranging fielder, he used his strong arm to compensate for his lack of speed, although he also gained notoriety for his “rainbow” throws that always just beat the runner. He only gunned the ball when necessary. After joining the Yankees for 1988, he played most of the season with an arm injury. Advised by the team doctor that a winter’s rest would cure his ills, it was discovered during spring training that surgery was in fact necessary. He missed all of 1989, with any continuation of his career in doubt.