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Cleveland MLB team reportedly considering name change

Other Baseball Yesterday, 11:18 PM
This is an AP article I lifted from the StarTribune web site.   https://www.startrib...sure/571623572/
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Virtual Twins Baseball Megathread

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 04:03 PM
Moving forward this will house every game-thread in the comments below until real baseball hopefully comes back. I should have done this...
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Neal: Twins Radio Broadcast Team Will Not Travel

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 03:56 PM
https://www.startrib...ason/571529672/   LaVelle Neal also wrote that the Twins radio broadcast crew (including Cory Provus and Dan...
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Take Landis Name off the MVP Award

Other Baseball Yesterday, 02:40 PM
Barry Larkin, former MVP, has been calling for removing the Kenesaw Mountain Landis name from MVP awards.Personally, until I read the art...
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Miguel Sano Denies Kidnapping Allegation, States He's...

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:41 AM
William Aish, sports editor for El Nuevo Diario, Tweeted last night about a complicated situation involving Miguel Sano. Here's Hect...
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Recent Blogs


Is Miguel Sanó About to Have a BABIP Problem?

One adjustment that helped lead to Sanó's great 2019 could be a red flag for the balance of his career.
Image courtesy of © Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Miguel Sanó will always strike out a lot. In fact, he’ll probably always strike out at a higher rate than that at which any player in baseball history has sustained his caliber of production at the plate. His power is extraordinary, but in order to make up for all his strikeouts, Sanó has to have success even when he isn’t hitting the ball over the walls. That poses an interesting dilemma: can Sanó thrive as a dead-pull hitter who relies on running a high BABIP?

First of all, let’s establish a couple of facts about Sanó’s approach, and about the shape of offensive production. Last year, for the first time, Sanó became an extreme pull hitter. In fact, according to FanGraphs, Sanó’s pull rate on batted balls last year was the second highest in MLB among players with at least 300 plate appearances. In the last decade, out of over 2,700 player-seasons, only 14 saw a higher pull rate than Sanó had.

Meanwhile, despite his overall improvement (some might even call it a breakout) during the second half of 2019, Sanó kept striking out at an exceptional rate. He fanned in 36.2 percent of his plate appearances, almost exactly matching his career rate of 36.3. In baseball history, no player with at least 2,000 career trips to the plate has struck out as often as has Sanó. Despite that, according to FanGraphs, he’s been 21 percent better than an average hitter (as signified by his 121 wRC+).

There are four core skills involved in hitting. They overlap, and each contains several smaller skills that also belong in some measure to other core skills, but these four are the most concise way to capture a hitter in profile. Strikeout rate is one of them, and in that regard, Sanó is certainly well below-average, even by modern standards. In the other three, though, to this point in his career, he’s been quite good. He maintains a high walk rate, has tremendous isolated power, and owns a career .342 BABIP—a 98th-percentile figure in baseball history.

Most hitters who whiff as much as Sanó does flame out of the league fairly quickly. Those who survive long enough to play even as much as he already has necessarily possess at least some of the other skills, as Sanó does, so it’s not wholly unusual for a batter to be average or better while running a high strikeout rate. Of the 50 most strikeout-prone hitters ever, however, 22 were below-average, and 19 had a wRC+ between 100 and 115.

To run a great wRC+ while striking out more than a third of the time, as Sanó will need to do if he’s going to be an impact player now that he’s moved to first base, requires one to excel in the other three core skills.

Considering his newfound pull-happiness, however, that might be a challenge for Sanó. Pulling the ball frequently only helps him tap into his power, and waiting for pitches he can yank in that direction can help brace his solid (if unspectacular) walk rate. Running a high BABIP while pulling the ball so often, however, is rare and difficult. For the 100 player-seasons since 2010 with the highest pull rates, the average BABIP was just .275.

Sanó’s BABIP last season was .319, down considerably from his career rate, but still almost 1.5 standard deviations above the average for dead-pull hitters. Between that gap and his unprecedented rate of 0.37 home runs per fly ball, there’s plenty of cause to wonder whether Sanó’s apparent breakout represented a level he can carry forward.

Advocates for Sanó could point out, correctly, that the very extremes we’re examining here make comparing him to other hitters unfair. Almost no one in baseball hits the ball harder than Sanó. Unlike many dead-pull hitters, Sanó is right-handed, making him (if only slightly) harder to defend with defensive shifts. Unlike many right-handed mashers, Sanó runs fairly well, which might help him collect an infield hit or force teams to defend him differently on occasion.

Still, as has been the case in each of his big-league seasons to date, 2019 gave us insufficient data to determine what we can expect from Sanó in the future. We know he’ll strike out a ton, hit a handsome number of homers, and draw his walks. We don’t yet know what adjustments he can make, around and within those parameters, to weather the process of aging, to respond to the league’s adjustments to him, and to bring his extreme skill set in line with what we know about paths to success and failure in MLB.

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7 Comments

Unlike Gleeman and the Geek in their last podcast, I am bothered by strikeouts.I can buy into having more than were historically acceptable, but Sano will see an erosion of his bat skills and it will be compounded by the limited number of times he makes fairball contact.If he is only going to connect with the ball 2/3rds of the time, he cannot afford any issues mental or physical, he cannot adjust to aging and regression.Ask those still paying Prince Fielder's contract how they like writing those checks.I want Sano to succeed, but lets quit feeding him the "it's okay to strike out a lot" line. 

    • Doctor Gast likes this
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Doctor Gast
May 28 2020 08:28 AM

I too would like Sano improve his strike out rate. Wouldn`t it be possible for Sano w/ 1 or 2 strikes to shorten his stride & try not to kill the ball every at bat to protect the plate a little bit better. He`s so strong he doesn`t have to kill the ball to put it over the fence. 

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theBOMisthebomb
May 28 2020 09:16 AM

Unlike Gleeman and the Geek in their last podcast, I am bothered by strikeouts.I can buy into having more than were historically acceptable, but Sano will see an erosion of his bat skills and it will be compounded by the limited number of times he makes fairball contact.If he is only going to connect with the ball 2/3rds of the time, he cannot afford any issues mental or physical, he cannot adjust to aging and regression.Ask those still paying Prince Fielder's contract how they like writing those checks.I want Sano to succeed, but lets quit feeding him the "it's okay to strike out a lot" line.

The amount and frequency of the strikeouts is sickening. Yes, it will eventually catch up to Sano, good work on the Prince Fielder comp. One of the baseball principles I grew up with was that you cannot get a hit if you don't put the ball in play.
    • mikelink45 likes this

I wonder if the increased pull rate was based on pitches and adjustment to them or change in approach.I have heard the approach the Twins want for Sano is to look to drive fastballs up the middle and the he should be able to pull off speed.If he is getting more off speed, and he would be staying off the outside off speed he should have increase in pull rate.  

 

I would want to see his hard hit rate to BAIP not BAIP to pull rate.I am of the stance if you hit the ball hard, unless right at someone, you will get a hit.As mentioned it is harder to do a pull shift for righty because 1st base can only go so far away from first base.  

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JosiahDeBoer
May 28 2020 10:49 AM

Last year only one player in the top 30 in batting wins above replacement featured a strikeout rate above 27% (Eugenio Suarez, of the Reds.) 

 

This makes me think that, since sustained elite play doesn't seem feasible with a strikeout rate above that range, that is what Sano needs to reach if he were to ever become elite. 

 

A high strikeout rate wouldn't bother me in the slightest, but as long as that rate is sizeably above that 27% line, it will concern me.

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Cap'n Piranha
May 28 2020 12:06 PM

As long as Sano continues to make hard contact, he will be fine.The Prince Fielder comp is only a problem for the Twins if they give Sano a Price Fielder contract.

Not the strikeouts again. Its similar to the change in the bunting paradigm years back. Some are reluctant to give it up. But, eventually all will start to come to a consensus that you get a favorable outcome, run production-wise, when you swing hard.

Disclaimer: I’m talking in generalizations here, but there are some exceptions. Obviously, Luis Arraez isn’t as effective if he’s trying to hit one into the Bud Deck on every pitch.

I’m not concerned about BABIP in this case, either. Sano will carry a higher BABIP by nature. There isn’t necessarily a bubble to burst.

He’s basically a three outcome guy. He K’s a significant amount, homering a ton, and striking out a ton. None of those outcomes are a ball in play. He also barrels up the ball extremely well despite that approach. Thus, when the ball is put into play, there’s a higher rate of balls hit extremely hard (aka, hard line drives). Those get caught less.