Johan Santana’s peak was way too short. From 2003 through 2010, Santana had a 2.89 ERA, 7.4 hits/9, 2.2 BB/9, and 8.9 K/9 ratio. He won two Cy Youngs while finishing in the top five in voting five years in a row, led the league in ERA three times, and was easily one of the best pitchers in the game during his prime. But his career was cut short because of injuries, and he only pitched in 21 games after 2010. He threw his last MLB pitch at 33.
There are a few cards SDS could give Santana. One would be slightly unique as it would be a relief pitcher card. He worked as a swingman for the first few seasons of his MLB career. In 2003, he pitched in 45 games, including 13 starts, while having a 9.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, and 7.2 hits/9 ratio. He would have pretty decent stamina and could be a solid low-90s early-season relief pitcher.
Santana’s best card would likely be an Awards series card for one of his Cy Young seasons. He won two: one in 2004 and the second in 2006. Between the two, his ‘04 season would be the better year to base it on. He led the league in hits/9 at 6.2 with a K/9 rate of 10.5. Those were both career-best marks when Santana was regularly used as a starting pitcher. His BB/9 rate was 2.13, the 15th-best in baseball.
That card would likely showcase his days with the Minnesota Twins, but he had some great years with the New York Mets. SDS could showcase his no-hitter via a Milestone series card. Of course, it would have 110+ hits/9, but also I could see it being a card with 125 stamina. He threw 134 pitches to complete the no-hitter. On top of that, he had just thrown a 96-pitch complete game in his previous start.
Santana would definitely be one of the best starting pitchers in the game. You could easily see SDS give an Awards or Milestone series Johan Santana card 110+ hits and K’s per nine, as well as 100+ BB/9. He’d also likely have a pretty decent pitch mix, including a fastball, sinker, slider, change-up, and maybe a fifth added-on pitch to make him more viable.