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Article: Miguel Sano: A Fading Superstar

miguel sano eddie rosario carlos correa francisco lindor
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#1 Cody Christie

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 05:30 PM

Miguel Sano is in his fifth big league season and he has over 1,600 big league plate appearances. He started his professional career already in the limelight because MLB’s investigation into his age. Heck, there was even a movie made about his signing. He looked like a slam dunk big league player, a future superstar.

Now, he’s 26-years old and one must wonder if he will ever be able to become the superstar he seemed destined to become.Age Questions
Back in 2012, one of the first pieces I wrote for Twins Daily examined the questions surrounding Miguel Sano’s age. MLB completed an investigation into his age, but the results were inconclusive. Sano had to drop his asking price and the Twins were happy to sign the young shortstop for $3.15 million. His family lived in a small dirt floored home in the Dominican, so the influx in money had to be a shock to the system.

In that original article, I wrote…
“For players from the Dominican, there is plenty of pressure to find some way to lie about their age to escape the poverty they are subject to in their home country. According to Sports Illustrated on average, a 16-year old player brings in about $65,000 with their signing bonus. Add two years to their age and an 18-year old signs for an average of $20,000. That is a big difference in a country where the per capita income is only $8,900. A player who shows any sign of promise is going to try and ‘adjust’ their age to put their family in a better place for the future.”

The age issue hasn’t been brought up in recent years and that’s probably a good thing for Twins Territory. His age certainly didn’t take away from his high expectations entering the minor leagues.

High Expectations
Baseball America had Sano ranked in their top-100 prospects for five consecutive seasons (2010-2014). He ranked as the number nine prospect in 2014 and peaked as the number six overall prospect in 2014. MLB.com had him as the 4th best prospect in 2014 while Baseball Prospectus had him just outside the top-10 (11th). Most of the baseball world expected him to turn into one of baseball’s best players.

Sano made his Stateside debut in 2011 and he had a breakout year in Elizabethton. In 66 games, he collected 45 extra-base hits and had a .988 OPS. Out of Appalachian League players (minimum of 45 game), only Eddie Rosario had a higher OPS than Sano. He would head into the off-season as the team’s highest-ranked prospect.

Over the next four seasons, Sano continued to pound minor league pitching. He combined for an .893 OPS in 2012, a .992 OPS in 2013, and a .918 OPS in 2015. The only thing that was able to slow him down was Tommy John surgery and that cost him the entire 2014 season.

He made his big-league debut in 2015 and there was still potential for him to be a superstar.
Big League Career
During a strong rookie campaign, Sano burst onto the scene with 36 extra-base hits and a .916 OPS in 80 games. He finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Houston’s Carlos Correa and Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor.

In 2016, Sano ran into a little bit of a sophomore slump. He still his 25 home runs and 22 doubles, but his OPS dropped to .781 and he struck out 178 times in 116 games. He was elected to his first All-Star Game in 2017 following a tremendous first half (21 HR and a .906 OPS). He cooled off a little in the second half as he only managed 10 extra-base hits and a .742 OPS in 32 games.

MLB had to investigate Sano multiple times in 2018 but this time it wasn’t about his age. He was accused of sexual assault by a Twins photographer. The Office of the Commission of Baseball concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant a suspension. Sano was also driving a car when it ran over a police officer in the Dominican Republic. In traffic court, the police found no intent on his part to hurt the officer.

Some of these incidents might have impacted his performance last year. In 71 games, he hit .199/.281/.398 with 27 extra-base hits. Minnesota even sent him down to High-A to try to reset his career.

Shifting Expectations
Sano is certainly putting up strong numbers this season with a 1.009 OPS in his first 14 games. However, I don’t know if he should be seen in the same light as he was when he was signed as a 16-year old. At that time, he looked like he could be the cornerstone of a franchise, a player to be built around.

Now, the perspective has changed. He seems like he could be a good player, but I don’t think he is a player the Twins will build around. Sano had the potential to be a superstar and he could still surprise in the years ahead. That being said, it’s more likely his superstar potential is slowly fading away.

Do you think Sano can still be considered a superstar? Would you build future Twins rosters around him? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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#2 Tom Froemming

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 05:34 PM

It's very strange to me that all these Sano takes are coming out now, when the dude has an OPS north of 1.000. When he was signed, you really thought he'd be better than this? Only five guy and a 1.000+ OPS last year.

 

It's a small sample so far and he's striking out a lot, as you mentioned, but it seems to be a really strange time to start questioning his potential. I think everybody has some weird Sota Pop glasses on that are clouding their vision and making them think every hitter in baseball has a .900 OPS this year or something.

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#3 mlhouse

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 05:36 PM

Exactly.The guy has a OPS over 1.000 in his comeback start and he is fading?

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#4 Seth Stohs

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 05:44 PM

Power and strikeouts... I think that's what was expected. Maybe many hoped he would become Miguel Cabrera when he was 16, but lots of players are the next big thing when they're signed at 16, or 18 or 21... 

 

So I don't think it's an indictment to say that Sano may only be a really good, multi-time All Star instead of a future Hall of Famer. Tells me that the Twins got it right. If not for the off-field issues, I think that the on-field has generally been good, even great at times, and at 26, with ONLY 1600 MLB at bats, there is still a lot of reason for excitement. Like Buxton, injureis have been the biggest thing to slow his career... and that just is what it is. 

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#5 twins_89

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 05:51 PM

I'm not sure why there are repeated questions about him at the moment. He's had what sounded like a really promising off-season (other than the freak injury) and has been performing well since returning to the Twins. I'd think it would make a lot of sense to wait to see how he does with a few hundred at bats (if he's still performing at the current level at that point there won't be any questions).

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#6 TheMatt

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 06:18 PM

I disagree. I still see promise. Even Joey Gallo has improved 😀
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#7 luckylager

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 06:35 PM

We really need to see how a now healthy and seemingly fit Miguel performs in the next couple months before we start penning his obituary. To this point, his career has been plagued with bad luck and bad choices. Sounds and looks like he's decided to take his job a bit more seriously. He's always had the talent. He should get the opportunity to redeem himself and so far, its been a mostly good first few weeks.

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#8 gunnarthor

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 06:42 PM

These posts on Sano are getting ... annoying. For the life of me, I can't figure out why people are ripping on him. He came back from injury, playing solid defense, showing incredible power and being a force in our line-up. He's already been an all-star for us.

 

I'm not sure why articles like this want to focus on bad things (especially without putting it in any context and letting the reader assume the worst of the young man). It's alarming that these type of articles and posts are being focused on Sano whose had a lot of dog whistling posts on TD over the years. Perhaps we should find something better to focus on.

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#9 Thrylos

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 06:49 PM

Wonder where we will stop hearing about Sano being a criminal after he was cleared of all accusations.  

Guess the haters will never stop hating.

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#10 MNT1996

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 06:51 PM

What a joke. lmao. The dude has under 100 ABs this season and he's "fading" already. Give me a break.

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#11 carlito_b

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 06:59 PM

I feel like sanos been as good as you could expect someone who's missed the entire spring. Now is a time to be as optimistic as ever about Sano IMO. Feels like he's just being attacked for the sake of being attacked
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#12 Yossarian

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 07:01 PM

Even if Sano is 28, he's entering his prime production years.Keeping him offers far more upside than what another organization would give today in trade.

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#13 gunnarthor

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 07:09 PM

 

Even if Sano is 28, he's entering his prime production years.Keeping him offers far more upside than what another organization would give today in trade.

He's 26. The author misstated what the investigation into his age could find.

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#14 TheLeviathan

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 07:42 PM

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#15 blindeke

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 07:56 PM

How many people were really promising and then got hurt? Let's ask Rocco Baldelli. This dude is 26. Remember when David Ortiz was 26? 

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#16 oldguywithanitch

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 08:23 PM

How many people were really promising and then got hurt? Let's ask Rocco Baldelli. This dude is 26. Remember when David Ortiz was 26?

Tony Oliva was 26 when he won the Rookie of the Year Award as the American League batting champion.

Edited by oldguywithanitch, 05 June 2019 - 08:23 PM.

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#17 Crackedfungo

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 08:28 PM

To me, this is a trashy and baseless article.One All-Star game, one major injury (a rod in your plant leg is pretty bad, and he had Tommy John before the majors - which slows development in missing parts of 3 seasons).A few minor off-field incidents, and the struggle to make contact as a just-turned 26 power hitter.Nothing to see here in terms of fading.He is acclimating.Buxton is too.I think it took Twins HOF Hunter until 25-26 to become a decent player.Sano is 26.I am SO tired of these negative articles.There was one about Rosario ever sticking (too swing happy) only 18-24 months ago.How is that crow tasting?Sano will adjust, and be fine.He also plays a pretty fine 3b when in shape - that arm is NOT replaceable.I still see expectations of 40 hrs/year, batting .270-.280.That is a centerpiece of any team - a Star.I played a lot of baseball.Baseball is hard to stay consistent and focused with any health or other issues where you miss 100s of at-bats.

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#18 Sconnie

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 08:33 PM

Sano’s OPS is driven by slugging that normalizes at 500 plate appearances. He’s having a great month.

I hope his great month becomes 2, becomes a great season.

When comparing to Ortiz’s age 26 season, it’s not fair to compare 62 plate appearances to 347.

I think it’s fair to question promise of a guy who’s been injured for such significant stretches. I sill hope he can continue his stretch of recent success.
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#19 DocBauer

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 08:33 PM

I honestly thought this was a sarcastic headline espousing solid early returns for Sano on his return to the Twins with his 1.000+OPS. I was sadly mistaken.

I am NOT going to bash Sano in any manner. I will, however, simply re-iterate some things we knkw that have happened over his BRIEF career: there have been weight/conditioning concerns but so much as last season when recovering from fairly major surgery, there have been allegations levied against him, (NOT going down that rabbit hole), that had to be a distraction along with injury recovery, then had a weird, innocent, altercation while in his home country, and then suffered a freak injury that set him back for 2019.

Despite some injuries, he has already shown what he is capable of, made an All Star team, and is still only 26 with 1,600 ML AB. He has shown signs of real maturation with his new regime. Despite being slowed to begin this season, and perhaps rushed back the MLB, he has been producing while probably STILL feeling his way back. Defensively, he lacks some range. But he has soft hands, moves well for a large man, charges the ball very well, chases pop ups well, and has an amazing arm.

At 26yo and with various setbacks he is not yet a superstar or perennial All Star. Guess we should just give up on him, right? Come to think of it, we shou,d have given up on Buxton and Kepler before now too, right? And don't even get me started on that Polanco guy who can't play SS and had a couple things happen to him over the previous couple of seasons.

Sorry, just frustrated by yet more piling on a young man with a world of potential who is is still growing and learning and developing. Who ever said he was HOF bound? Like Seth stated, how about a multiple All Star caliber player with a good career? Are we OK with that?
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#20 crapforks

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 10:07 PM

This is a bad article. I like Cody’s work in general, but this is bad.
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