Miguel Sano And Negativity Bias
And let's make no mistake about it: he is great. Already, at age 24, and he's likely on his way to becoming even better. There is much to celebrate about where Sano is and where he's going. He surpassed 70 career home runs when he went deep twice against Arizona last weekend, just before going on the disabled list. He reached that mark quicker than anyone in franchise history, by a longshot:
Sano's historic power is enabled by his size and strength, his ferocious cuts – the very same things criticized by anyone who's looking for a grievance to air.
"He's getting too big." Well, that's who he is, a large man. "He strikes out too much." Well, that's what he is, a hard swinger prone to strikeouts as well as tape-measure shots.
It is well established in psychology that humans have an implicit negativity bias; we are more apt to remember something bad than good, an evolutionary trait. It is, as the linked article states, "the same reason political smear campaigns outpull positive ones."
By hounding upon Sano's ostensible weight control issues, these columnists are guilty of succumbing to negativity bias, while also planting it in the minds of their readers. The Strib platform entails a certain level of responsibility, and there are consequences for actively working to shape perceptions like this.
I much prefer the way new Twins GM Thad Levine is openly embracing the overwhelming positives of the Miguel Sano experience. Here's how he talked about his inherited All-Star at the Baseball Prospectus Target Field event a few weeks ago:
I will tell you, he wants to be great. This is a guy who has an amazing amount of energy, loves the game of baseball, is smiling from ear to ear. Leaders come in different shapes and forms, but I'll tell you, from an energy standpoint, this guy's love of the game is palpable and will get us through a 162-game season. That, and he also can hit the ball a very, very long way.
The key to that statement: "Leaders come in different shapes and forms." Sano's physical shape and form do not define him, nor do they preclude him from being productive or healthy. I'm sure people made the same "dietary discipline" remarks about Prince Fielder but from age 24 through 29 he missed three total games and hit 200 home runs.
Sano is, in Souhan's own words, "remarkably agile for a large man." He gets the job done at the hot corner and moves well enough around the base paths. He leads the Twins in OPS, and even during his slumps he's still a relatively solid performer, never a liability. His absence has certainly been felt since the DL move, with Eduardo Escobar representing a severe drop-off in the cleanup spot, and games like Thursday's 5-1 loss to Chicago feeling strongly impacted by his non-presence.
But Sano had played in 111 of the team's 121 games before going on the shelf due to a foul ball in the shin. He has taken approximately 35 fastballs to the left wrist, and kept on chugging along.
To write these kinds of columns for a Minnesota sports audience almost feels treacherous, and hugely ill-advised when you think about the big picture. We should all collectively be trying to woo this generational hitting talent into sticking around. One day in the not-too-distant future, Sano will be approaching free agency, and will more than likely have suitors lining up for his services.
If he chooses to go elsewhere, Souhan and Reusse will surely be lamenting another star player who left the small market via free agency to chase the spotlight and the big dollars.
Maybe they could've tried harder to appreciate what they had, while they had it.
- Mike Frasier Law, USNMCPO, Tibs and 6 others like this