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Twins Stars Being Attacked Similarly

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 03 April 2018 · 2,402 views

minnesota twins byron buxton miguel sano
Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton are arguably the Twins most notable young stars. On offense, they provide value in different ways, but Paul Molitor's hope is to get a high level of production out of each of them. So early into the 2018 Major League Baseball season, there's not much to be said about the sample sizes or returns. One thing appears certain though, opposing pitchers are attacking the Minnesota duo in a similar fashion.

Through their first four games, Sano and Buxton have seemed to be pulling off a handful of pitches when observing through the functions of the eye test. Both players have inflated swinging strike rates out of the gate (Buxton 22.7% Sano 21.2%), and it appears a good deal of the misses are coming in a similar place. When looking at the zone profiles for each batter, Sano and Buxton are both missing pitches in a near identical location.

Although opposing pitchers are making Sano work a bit more when it comes to pitch recognition, the low and away pitch presents a similar challenge for both Twins hitters. When Buxton is in the box, he seems to get a steady diet of fastballs in, with the out pitch being a sweeping slider or curveball that darts away. Bat speed isn't a problem for Buxton at this stage, but attempting to turn on a pitch darting away is almost always going to induce soft contact. Miguel may not be seeing as many pitches tail away, but the ball getting to that bottom right corner of the zone still doesn't present an opportunity for it to be driven out to left field.

Looking back at their body of work as a whole, I don't think there's any reason to suggest that either Buxton or Sano is a dead pull hitter with a significant deficiency when it comes to going the opposite way. Both have a significant amount of thump in their bat, and hitting to the pull side, when possible, is going to be conducive of the most ideal results. What we can see based upon where pitchers are throwing them, and the contact that comes as a result, is that the "when possible" note holds some significant weight.

Again, just looking back over the small sample size that is the 2018 season, both Sano and Buxton have an instance in which they properly attacked the low and away pitch. Against the Orioles on April 2, both players were served pitches more towards their swing and miss zone (although Sano's was pretty close to middle in). Buxton sat on the pitch (a fastball as opposed to a slider), and drove it to right field for a single with a 106 mph exit velocity. Sano attacked his opportunity to the tune of a 110 mph opposite field home run. Despite not utilizing a breaking pitch, Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman tried to attack the two Twins hitters in a place where they've shown a deficiency. Handled correctly however, both were able to execute a solid approach and generate favorable results.
Over the course of the full season, protecting the outside corner of the strike zone will continue to be a must for the pair. While Buxton isn't going to hit home runs at the pace Sano will, both have the opportunity to accumulate significantly more hits if they can read up on the book that's apparently out on them. Taking away opposing pitchers areas of opportunity only will help to raise their own threat level at the plate.

At any level of the game, getting away from the tendency to yank everything, or finish swings early, is a practice that requires real discipline. By trusting their bat speed, and knowledge of the strike zone itself, there should be plenty of baseballs that both Miguel and Byron can drive into right field. For now, opposing pitchers are likely going to remain focusing on that area of the zone, and it'll be up to the two Twins stars to force their hand.

For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz

  • h2oface likes this

You said it yourself....Sano's opposite field home run was NOT in his swing and miss zone.He hit it the opposite way by total accident, just happened to slice it off the top of the bat. Other than that, agree with everything here.


Neither is handling anything away...especially off-speed away.Buxton looks incapable of adjusting, and Sano looks unwilling.Not the start we wanted to see...and not like this pattern of attack wasn't predictable, especially in the case of Sano.

    • h2oface likes this
Apr 05 2018 08:31 AM

Since Sano fancies himself as "quick", maybe he should bunt for singles.Or not...