Manager Ned Yost said what's most impressive is the fact that Santana has rarely been lit up. He has allowed more than four earned runs in a start just three times, while logging at least six innings in all but two outings.
"He has really thrown some great games for us," Yost said. "A lot of those games, he has been matched up against some very good pitchers where run support has been tough to come by."
Yost is right. Among qualified starters in the American League, Santana is getting the 11th-lowest run support at 3.85 runs per game, which has prevented him from winning more ballgames.
Santana has a 3.19 ERA, trailing only ace James Shields' mark of 3.14 among Kansas City starters, and has rebounded well after a rough season with the Angels in 2012. The 30-year-old has cut down his home run and walk rates, while upping his strikeout rate.
A big reason why Santana has done a better job at limiting the long ball -- he has allowed 22 in 180 2/3 innings after surrendering a Major League-high 39 in 178 innings last season -- is he's inducing ground balls at a career-high rate.
Yost said when the Royals acquired Santana in the offseason, Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher told him that he was going to have a big season.
"Butcher told me that every time he has had a so-so year, he has always bounced back and had a great year," Yost said. "He told me when we got him that he is going to have a heck of a year for you guys, and that has proven to be very true."
Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.