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Article: More Boom Coming for Bombing Twins

minnesota twins miguel sano nelson cruz c.j. cron
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#1 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 30 April 2019 - 06:00 PM

No team in baseball has played fewer games than the Minnesota Twins. Despite that fact, their 50 homers in 2019 rank third in baseball. Yes, Minnesota has pulverized Baltimore Orioles pitching to begin 2019, but this lineup is raking against just about every pitcher who steps on the mound against them. With bats like Nelson Cruz, C.J. Cron, and Eddie Rosario there was always going to be a realistic expectation of power in 2019, but we’re a few weeks away from that being taken up a notch.Miguel Sano has officially started his major league rehab assignment and debuts with the Fort Myers Miracle. The plan is for Sano to progress from High-A to Double-A before eventually getting in a couple of games with Triple-A Rochester. Per MLB rules, his rehab stint can run 20 days barring any setbacks. Last playing in a big-league game on September 18 and getting in just 71 games last year, this will serve as Sano’s spring training.

It’s not lost on anyone that Sano’s immense talent has gone unrealized in recent seasons. He was worth 0 fWAR in 2018, and after an impressive rookie campaign, only flashed his talent through a fast start to the 2017 season. The Dominican native has never played more than 116 games in a season, and conditioning issues, reflective of drive and desire, seemed to be the largest reason for the under-performance of the owner of Minnesota’s hot corner.

Here’s the reality though: This is a very good baseball player. Miguel Sano has all the tools to be an incredible asset in Rocco Baldelli’s lineup, and regardless of the early production, it’s clear this club could use him. Marwin Gonzalez was signed to be an asset through his utility. The ability to spell players all over the diamond is one of the chief contributors to his value. Playing as the regular third baseman in Sano’s absence, the former Astro owns just a .501 OPS and has only three extra-base hits in 86 plate appearances. It’d be silly to think that level of production continues for the newly signed free agent, but getting him out of regular duty could help to allow him a chance to settle in.

At his best, Sano is an all-star talent that lengthens Minnesota’s lineup. Like the sluggers that already litter it, he can put the ball in the seats. Unlike some of his teammates however, a locked in Sano is also a disciplined hitter with an eye for free passes. Like many power bats he’ll strike out plenty, but his .352 OBP in 2017 is a realistic expectation when he’s going right.

One of the most exciting things about inserting Sano back into the lineup is how his swing profile meshes so perfectly with how Minnesota has operated this year. The Twins have made a concentrated effort to hit the ball harder and higher, and ambush pitchers earlier in the count. Whether or not that’s a directive from somewhere in the organization or not, it’s what is taking place on the field. Sano owns a 42% career hard hit rate and is routinely among the league leaders in both barreled balls and exit velocity. His 43.8% ground ball rate in 2018 did him no favors but getting back closer to the 37% career mark will leave more room for elevation.

When things fell apart for Miguel last year, there seemed to be a level of doubt in him, more than a reflection of a systemic change in his approach. Check swings were far too present, and an established knowledge of the strike zone was near non-existent. The swinging strike rate wasn’t out of whack, and the contact rate jumped. If anything, Sano wasn’t hitting the pitches he’d normally want to, and the approach was one full of apprehension.

You can bet that when Sano returns to Minnesota in 2019, he’ll be ready to go. This staff isn’t going to let the same habits play out again, and we saw that start to bear fruit as he showed up to spring training in considerably better shape. For the first time in his professional career it appears as though he’s committed to getting the most out of his talent as opposed to simply relying on it. The Twins will need to make sure the rehab is both effective and productive over the course of the next three weeks, and then it’ll be all systems go.

Miguel Sano has fallen flat at times during his career. He’s also a guy who has hit 25 home runs twice despite limited action. He’s been a legitimate power threat despite the tendency to strike out. Miguel Sano has generated a handful of hype without ever fully buying into himself. The floor is a pretty good bat, but the ceiling for the guy who showed up to Fort Myers this spring is something we haven’t yet seen from him in a Twins uniform.

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#2 jkcarew

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Posted 30 April 2019 - 06:32 PM

Gets hit by pitch in first PA...naturally. Apparently not hurt...he remains in game.
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#3 theBOMisthebomb

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 04:56 AM

Maybe Sano is really only a 100-120 games per year guy who can crush HRs. If he cannot stay healthy for 2019 after coming back from this rehab stint then the Twins should look at penciling in Sano as the long term DH after Cruz is gone.
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#4 blindeke

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 05:15 AM

Here's hoping!


#5 ashbury

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 06:56 AM

Maybe Sano is really only a 100-120 games per year guy who can crush HRs. If he cannot stay healthy for 2019 after coming back from this rehab stint then the Twins should look at penciling in Sano as the long term DH after Cruz is gone.

The present plan surely is that Cruz will be here in 2020. That means just 2021 for a DH'ing Sano, before a decision has to be made regarding his impending free-agency.

 

Ugh, this isn't working out anything like we all had envisioned.

 

Also, I'm not too sure his perceived 100-120 game ceiling has very much to do with his being a position player, based on past injuries.

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#6 Linus

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 07:12 AM

Your assessment of Sano is quite optimistic. He hasn’t been good since the first half of his rookie season. The league adjusted to him and so far he has not adjusted to that. In my mind the jury is definitely out on him
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#7 David HK

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 07:53 AM

He (and the team) weren't helped at all by the Great Outfield Experiment, either, which ended up just messing him up for a good while. Thanks, Molly.

#8 Number3

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 08:16 AM

The real question is, why is Sano having to go through a rehab assignment in the first place? Answer...because he was celebrating in a raucous crowd after winning a championship in a league he shouldn't even have been playing in after recovering from injury last year. Don't tell me that immaturity and maybe just a "little" alcohol didn't play a role. Now the Twins themselves will have to rehab him on the fly in games that count with the typical "just give him some time". Forget the home runs. Consistent play in the field, maturity, and injury are what concern me about Sano. At least we'll find out soon and, like Buxton, the leash should be very short. At least Buxton appears to have turned the corner so 1 out of 2 ain't bad between the long awaited star level performances.


#9 Linus

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 08:47 AM

He (and the team) weren't helped at all by the Great Outfield Experiment, either, which ended up just messing him up for a good while. Thanks, Molly.


If playing the outfield for 6 weeks messed him so badly then there is no hope for him.
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#10 spycake

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 08:48 AM

 

Your assessment of Sano is quite optimistic. He hasn’t been good since the first half of his rookie season. The league adjusted to him and so far he has not adjusted to that. In my mind the jury is definitely out on him

That's not quite fair either -- Sano was definitely good to open the 2017 season. Maybe not sustainably good, but then again, maybe his rookie season wasn't either (35.5% K rate, .396 BABIP).


#11 Linus

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 08:52 AM

That's not quite fair either -- Sano was definitely good to open the 2017 season. Maybe not sustainably good, but then again, maybe his rookie season wasn't either (35.5% K rate, .396 BABIP).


Fair enough. I don’t think he is the same hitter he was then. I sincerely hope he gets it back but he can’t keep on flailing away like he has been

#12 caninatl04

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 09:37 AM

Ted wrote:

"The floor is a pretty good bat".

 

I disagree.The floor is 2018.The floor is zero due to perpetual injuries.The floor is an out-of-shape unmotivated Sano. 

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#13 howieramone2

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 09:43 AM

 

The real question is, why is Sano having to go through a rehab assignment in the first place? Answer...because he was celebrating in a raucous crowd after winning a championship in a league he shouldn't even have been playing in after recovering from injury last year. Don't tell me that immaturity and maybe just a "little" alcohol didn't play a role. Now the Twins themselves will have to rehab him on the fly in games that count with the typical "just give him some time". Forget the home runs. Consistent play in the field, maturity, and injury are what concern me about Sano. At least we'll find out soon and, like Buxton, the leash should be very short. At least Buxton appears to have turned the corner so 1 out of 2 ain't bad between the long awaited star level performances.

The leash isn't short on Buxton and won't be on Sano. Think David Ortiz.


#14 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 10:20 AM

 

Your assessment of Sano is quite optimistic. He hasn’t been good since the first half of his rookie season. The league adjusted to him and so far he has not adjusted to that. In my mind the jury is definitely out on him

A .906 OPS through 82 games prior to the 2017 All Star game would say otherwise.

 

Also, I'm of the belief that it's never been a talent thing for Sano as much as it has been desire. All the ability in the world is there, but he's rarely shown a consistent dedication towards production or improvement. The weight issue was never the problem, but rather a symptom of lacking commitment. Given how he came into spring looking, I'm willing to believe he may have bought in for the first time in his big league career. If he hasn't nothing else is going to matter anyways.

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#15 jkcarew

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 10:50 AM

 

At least we'll find out soon and, like Buxton, the leash should be very short. At least Buxton appears to have turned the corner so 1 out of 2 ain't bad between the long awaited star level performances.

I'll wait for more than 86 PA to declare Buxton has turned the offensive corner. He's OPS'ing 765 now, which would be very ok if he can sustain that. But agree with Howie above, that the leash will not be short for either Buxton or Sano. For now, I just want them both playing extended months of healthy baseball...for their sake, and also for the sake of the club being able to make more informed decisions regarding their future.

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#16 yarnivek1972

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 11:30 AM

He (and the team) weren't helped at all by the Great Outfield Experiment, either, which ended up just messing him up for a good while. Thanks, Molly.


Yeah, I’m sure Molitor made that decision. Molitor decided to retain Trevor Plouffe. Molitor decided that Sano (as opposed to Plouffe) should move to RF.
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#17 Vanimal46

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 12:00 PM

A defining year for Sano's career, no doubt. He has to produce and be healthy the rest of the year upon his return. Otherwise why do the Twins continue to rely on him?

#18 Blake

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 12:12 PM

I'm resigned to Sano having an excellent career, with a team other than the Twins.

 

Something just doesn't seem to be there for Sano when it comes to playing for the Twins.


#19 howieramone2

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 01:04 PM

 

I'm resigned to Sano having an excellent career, with a team other than the Twins.

 

Something just doesn't seem to be there for Sano when it comes to playing for the Twins.

That's why you hang on to him as long as possible. We have him 2 years after this one, no need to panic, especially since he hasn't been healthy. He's turning 26 shortly, look how long it took Cruz to shine. Plenty of similar examples.

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#20 spanman2

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 01:05 PM

Here is to hoping this FINALLY will be the wake up call Sano needs...hopefully Cruz, Gonzalez can assist him on the professional side of the game...IMO he just doesn't seem to realize this is your 'profession'...you just can't show up and play you must put in the work!!!That means on the field/off the field during the season and after the season.He has all the talent in the world!!!

I WAS TOLD I WOULD NEVER MAKE IT BECAUSE I AM TOO SHORT. WELL, I'M STILL TOO SHORT. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOUR HEIGHT IS. IT'S WHAT'S IN YOUR HEART.

KIRBY PUCKETT



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