Miguel Sano with Sights Set on Hall of Fame Records
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY SportsThe Minnesota Twins are celebrating their 60th season and bringing back the powder blues in 2020. A slugger that wore those uniforms prior to them becoming throwbacks was none other than Harmon Killerbrew. Known as Killer, Harmon clubbed a ridiculous 573 career homers. Twice, in 1964 and 1969, he blasted 49 in a single season. As a no-doubt Hall of Famer it’s hard to fathom Sano reaching that rarified air, but matching him for a calendar year? Yeah, I can get behind that.
During the 2019 season Sano played in just 105 games. He missed the beginning of the year after suffering a gash on his heel in a freak accident. After debuting in mid-May, the Dominican native posted an .853 OPS through his first 23 games. There were seven longballs hit in that stretch, but it was bookended by an ugly five-strikeout affair in a 0-for-7 performance against the Boston Red Sox.
Working with the since departed James Rowson on a teardown and rebuild of his swing while facing Major League pitching, Miguel performed admirably. Given the determination he’d shown throughout the offseason, it shouldn’t be a surprise he’d work tirelessly to get this right. Over his final 82 games he tallied a .944 OPS and 27 homers. From July on that OPS was at .955, and in September alone it was a whopping 1.067.
Owning a top five barrel rate and one of the best hard-hit rates in all of baseball, it’s not a surprise to see the pill leave the yard when Miguel makes contact. He’ll obviously whiff plenty, but even a 36% strikeout rate couldn’t keep him down a year ago. The mix tells us everything we need to know. This is a three true outcomes guy that recorded an insane 36% HR/FB rate. Now what happens if he’s on the field more?
Moving over to first base could present some challenges for Miguel, and he’ll definitely need to grow into the new position. If he can continue to separate his play on the field from that in the batter’s box, the rigors of the role should put less of a strain on him, however. Also, barring some unfortunate development, he’ll be entering the year with a clean bill of health.
Extrapolating Sano’s numbers over the course of a full season surpasses the 50-home run plateau. It’s something that Killebrew never did and reaching 43 would put him beyond Nelson Cruz’s number last year (41) as well as Brian Dozier’s in 2016 (42). For a guy that was sent down to Single-A less than two years ago to now be capable of the heights Miguel is achieving is nothing short of extraordinary. He’s put in the work, he’s committed to be the best version of himself, and in 2020 it could culminate into some chart-topping tallies.
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