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The #5 pitcher on the 1965 Twins

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On Steps and Sano

The Twins and Miguel Sano announced their contract extension on Tuesday morning. The new guaranteed deal could keep Sano in a Twins uniform for two extra years, through the 2023 season. “Regardless of winning or losing, I think I made up my mind that I want to spend my entire career here,” Sano said in a press conference. “This is the first step.”

It really wasn’t.
There have been many steps, both forward and back, and almost all of them were giant, like he is. He’s been a top prospect (2010-2015), a Tommy John casualty (2014), and an instant success and late season hero (2015). Then he was a cautionary fielding experiment (2016), an All-Star (2017), and an out-of-shape pariah (somehow, also 2017). The drama has played out as a reclamation project (2018) and a breakthrough player (2019). All this, and he’s not yet 27 years old.

So when evaluating his $30 million dollar contract, it is probably unwise to assume any smooth career progression, even if baby steps are what Sano is trying to emphasize for himself. “Just be professional. Take care of my routine; keep doing my routine. Take care of what I eat, what I put in my body,” lists Sano, in response to how he can stay healthy.

Health is perhaps the biggest risk in the long-term deal the Twins offered. Sano’s major injuries were Tommy John surgery and a foul ball off his shin that resulted in a titanium rod being inserted into his leg. Neither are the usual chronic injuries that worry teams, but the perception remains that the 6’ 4”, 272 pound (listed) frame was at least a partial cause of injuries, and maybe more than a partial cause of slumps. Even last year, a heel injury, suffered in an offseason celebration, caused him to miss the first quarter of the season.

So what could a healthy Sano do over 162 game? Well, last year, he had 34 home runs in 380 AB. “If I play an entire season, I think I can probably double those numbers,” he says. That’s obviously exceedingly optimistic. Fangraph’s STEAMER projections suggest 38 home runs is a more realistic target, but that also factors in a slight step backwards towards the mean.

Slight steps in any direction have not been the norm for Sano. If the doubters are correct and he takes yet another giant step backwards, it will cost the Twins an extra $24M over the next four years, given he would’ve made $6M one way or the other this year. On the other hand, if he takes a giant step forwards, replicating the 923 OPS he posted after June 27th? What then?

Sano seems to have an idea. When asked what he will do with his newfound riches, he smiles and replies “Nah, it’s not a lot. I can get more than that.”

Indeed he can, if the 26-year-old‘s baby steps lead to giant steps in the right direction.

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20 Comments

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tony&rodney
Jan 14 2020 07:12 PM

Miguel Sano has been dealing with negative attitudes about him since he was barely a teenager. He has had some slips for sure, but Sano is now in a position to put his experience, knowledge, and physical tools together. Every time he comes to the plate I stop and watch. Tony Oliva is the only favorite player I ever had but Harmon Killebrew was the one who made people stop whatever and just watch. Sano does too.

    • birdwatcher, Mike Frasier Law, Oldgoat_MN and 5 others like this

Agreed!

    • tarheeltwinsfan likes this

How about his new nametag!

    • Wyorev likes this
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Patrick Wozniak
Jan 14 2020 07:40 PM

Next step: Master first base!

I'm really happy with the extension and would love to see Sano finish out his career in Minnesota. He's had his ups and downs but it feels like he's ready to really take off. I'm impressed with how seriously he's taking the conditioning and he seems to have matured a lot. I'm excited to see what he does this year.

    • Mike Frasier Law and tarheeltwinsfan like this
That necklace tho.
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Patrick Wozniak
Jan 14 2020 08:11 PM

 

That necklace tho.

Unfortunately my name's too long to make such a purchase economically feasible.

    • birdwatcher, Oldgoat_MN, big dog and 6 others like this
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tony&rodney
Jan 14 2020 08:29 PM

Never wear jewelry myself, but I like it. Baseball is a game of accepting failure and having the confidence to move forward, believing that you are the best against 100 mph gas. Sano has encountered some difficult circumstances and made some mistakes, but the necklace tells us who is up next.

 

This guy loves baseball and is certainly aware of Josh Donaldson as a third baseman. My guess is that Miguel is all in this year and he will work hard to be a decent first baseman. Everyone should remember that he was once a skinny shortstop and his adherence to training and focus on winning as a Twin will be an asset to improving his defense and overall consistency this year. 

 

I'm excited to see what the big man does this summer.

    • DannySD likes this
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Old Twins Cap
Jan 14 2020 09:31 PM

How he look? In shape? No limps, no injuries?

When Sano is engaged, he's a top player. He's an All Star. He's a 40 homer guy, a middle of the order back. He came up and he always wanted to be great. Not sure great but one of the best. He would talk about breaking homer records and such. I'm excited about what he can do going forward. And, frankly, three years isn't long... even if the Twins pick up the option, he can be a free agent again at 30. 

    • Mike Frasier Law, DocBauer, ken and 1 other like this
What a fantastic day for the Twins. Announcing this mutually great deal with Sanó, shocking many of us with signing Josh. Bring on spring training and 2010!
    • birdwatcher, raindog and Nine of twelve like this
Maybe it's simply hyperbole in the moment, but I'm intrigued by his comment about wanting to stay with the Twins. Dismiss it if you will but the Twins signed him, developed him, and have stuck by him. He, and the team, seem to have a bright future ahead of them.

Bear with me for a moment.

I am a Midwestern boy, born and raised. Living in Omaha, Nebraska most of my life, SD in my youth, this is HOME. I am a HUGE Husker fan. Over decades as such, you hear the same old rhetoric from teenage recruits, and their families, that they had no idea what Nebraska, and the University, the campus, the people, etc, were like until they came here. Honest to God, they expected some tiny town and wilderness and cornfields. OK, there are cornfields, lol. The biggest obstacle to recruiting is just getting kids here to visit. And then everything changes.

How many MLB players come from the Midwest vs west coast and southern states? How many future Twins, even if they left later in their careers, still identify themselves as Twins for life? How many have come back for special occasions, or to work for the club or broadcasts to varying degrees?

There have been debates and arguments about FA not wanting to play here. But when is the last time you heard anyone who played for the Twins say something like, "given a choice, I'd never play there or go there again"?

Odorizzi has stated he'd like an extension to stay here. Why wouldn't he? I laugh when his QO pays him almost $18M and only Ryu and 3 others signed to play for more in 2020. And come on, Cole and Strasburg are in a different stratosphere. But some state his agent must be lousy. Come on!

The Twins are investing in Sano and their other talent. Sure, Sano and others could bank on themselves and future paydays that exceed their Twins contract extensions. But if you like where you are...and there is that understanding and accepting of something you didn't know before you were there...and you can secure your financial future, it is a win win for both parties.

Berrios and Buxton are next.

Beyond that, and the Donaldson deal could change a lot of future opinions, the one thing the FO should concentrate on is becoming "recruiters" and not just businessmen.
    • birdwatcher, PopRiveter, Wyorev and 5 others like this

I'm excited to see that picture of him looking like such a fit, athletic version of himself and I love this news.

I'm not ready to be done watching him play for my Twins.

    • birdwatcher, Mike Frasier Law and Melissa like this
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nicksaviking
Jan 15 2020 01:20 PM

Kent Hrbek OPS'd .934 in his age 27 season and he got a World Series ring.

 

I only ask for our new 1B to match that.

    • birdwatcher and jkcarew like this

 

Kent Hrbek OPS'd .934 in his age 27 season and he got a World Series ring.

 

I only ask for our new 1B to match that.

Accumulated bWAR in seasons where primarily playing first-base for Twins..

Hrbek------------38.6

Killebrew--------25.3 (Lot of Killebrew's WAR was 3B/OF...and/or Senators)

Morneau---------23.2

Carew------------21.5

 

It would be just fine for Sano to knock two or three of these guys down a peg before he's done :)

    • birdwatcher and Mike Frasier Law like this
Photo
tarheeltwinsfan
Jan 15 2020 03:01 PM

 

What a fantastic day for the Twins. Announcing this mutually great deal with Sanó, shocking many of us with signing Josh. Bring on spring training and 2010!

2020

Photo
tarheeltwinsfan
Jan 15 2020 03:04 PM

 

Maybe it's simply hyperbole in the moment, but I'm intrigued by his comment about wanting to stay with the Twins. Dismiss it if you will but the Twins signed him, developed him, and have stuck by him. He, and the team, seem to have a bright future ahead of them.

Bear with me for a moment.

I am a Midwestern boy, born and raised. Living in Omaha, Nebraska most of my life, SD in my youth, this is HOME. I am a HUGE Husker fan. Over decades as such, you hear the same old rhetoric from teenage recruits, and their families, that they had no idea what Nebraska, and the University, the campus, the people, etc, were like until they came here. Honest to God, they expected some tiny town and wilderness and cornfields. OK, there are cornfields, lol. The biggest obstacle to recruiting is just getting kids here to visit. And then everything changes.

How many MLB players come from the Midwest vs west coast and southern states? How many future Twins, even if they left later in their careers, still identify themselves as Twins for life? How many have come back for special occasions, or to work for the club or broadcasts to varying degrees?

There have been debates and arguments about FA not wanting to play here. But when is the last time you heard anyone who played for the Twins say something like, "given a choice, I'd never play there or go there again"?

Odorizzi has stated he'd like an extension to stay here. Why wouldn't he? I laugh when his QO pays him almost $18M and only Ryu and 3 others signed to play for more in 2020. And come on, Cole and Strasburg are in a different stratosphere. But some state his agent must be lousy. Come on!

The Twins are investing in Sano and their other talent. Sure, Sano and others could bank on themselves and future paydays that exceed their Twins contract extensions. But if you like where you are...and there is that understanding and accepting of something you didn't know before you were there...and you can secure your financial future, it is a win win for both parties.

Berrios and Buxton are next.

Beyond that, and the Donaldson deal could change a lot of future opinions, the one thing the FO should concentrate on is becoming "recruiters" and not just businessmen.

 

Outstanding post Doc. Outstanding.

    • DocBauer likes this

Do we suppose that Sano knew about moving to first base when he signed that extension?

Photo
tony&rodney
Jan 15 2020 07:10 PM

I think a move to first base was definitely a topic of discussion between the Twins, Sano, and his agent.

 

Do we suppose that Sano knew about moving to first base when he signed that extension?

Think he knew it was a possibility all offseason 

 

    • ashbury, birdwatcher, James and 2 others like this
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nicksaviking
Jan 16 2020 11:27 AM

I also heard him say on Hot Stove that he does NOT enjoy DH'ing. He said he likes playing in the field as much as he likes hitting and he doesn't feel like he's playing if he's not always moving his legs and running around. So if he doesn't want to DH, that should be a good motivating factor for him to be the best defensive 1B that he's capable of.

 

Also, he was a fantastic interview, you could tell how much effort he's put in to communicating in a second language. Hopefully the effort he's made in that area is indicative of the effort he's been putting into continuing his on field improvements.


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