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Article: Why Miguel Sano's Strikeouts Are Not a Problem

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#21 Riverbrian

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 07:30 AM

Buxton dropped his K rate. Sano could accomplish the same.

If he does... when he does... the results will be stunning.

Keep coaching and working with him. We have enough talent around him so he doesn’t have to carry us.
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#22 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 07:33 AM

I don't know why so many people have a hard time calling out Sano's atrocious contact rate while also accepting that he will strike out quite a bit.

 

But the difference between a 38% K rate and a 32% K rate would go a looooooong way with the guy. No one should want him to turn into Astudillo but there's certainly room for improvement in his approach.

 

Last night was a perfect example of how his approach nearly cost the team a victory. The pitcher didn't throw him a fastball because he didn't have to... thankfully, the pitcher lost control of a pitch and the winning run scored without Sano needing to do anything.

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#23 Tomj14

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 07:53 AM

 

I don't know why so many people have a hard time calling out Sano's atrocious contact rate while also accepting that he will strike out quite a bit.

 

But the difference between a 38% K rate and a 32% K rate would go a looooooong way with the guy. No one should want him to turn into Astudillo but there's certainly room for improvement in his approach.

 

Last night was a perfect example of how his approach nearly cost the team a victory. The pitcher didn't throw him a fastball because he didn't have to... thankfully, the pitcher lost control of a pitch and the winning run scored without Sano needing to do anything.

On the Wild Pitch, I thought he actually swung (I could be wrong), but that situation last night he and Castro are the two Twins I don't want hitting with 1 out and a guy on third. After the the wild pitch he struck out on a terrible swing IMO that looked like he was trying to hit the ball out of target field.

I like Sano so this isn't a criticism of him as a whole, it seems to me he doesn't have the ability to change his approach slightly based on the game situation.

On a positive note for Sano, down by 1 late in the game he and Rosario are two of the guys I want batting.


#24 drivlikejehu

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 07:54 AM

 

I don't know why so many people have a hard time calling out Sano's atrocious contact rate while also accepting that he will strike out quite a bit.

 

But the difference between a 38% K rate and a 32% K rate would go a looooooong way with the guy. No one should want him to turn into Astudillo but there's certainly room for improvement in his approach.

 

Last night was a perfect example of how his approach nearly cost the team a victory. The pitcher didn't throw him a fastball because he didn't have to... thankfully, the pitcher lost control of a pitch and the winning run scored without Sano needing to do anything.

 

It is what it is. If he could just magically strike out less, he would. The good (walks/power) come with the bad (low BA driven by K%). There would be trade-offs if he became more aggressive earlier in the count, and most likely he would become a worse hitter.

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#25 Riverbrian

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 07:55 AM

If a runner is on third with less than two outs and we are tied or down by a run and it’s late in the game.

When simple contact could tie the game or break a tie.

I would consider pinch hitting for him based on his contact rate in that situation.

That’s OK. We got a team full of guys who can hit. You can still play Sano tomorrow and it doesn’t mean he’s a waste of roster space.

In all the other situations that OPS just might help us.

Let Sano be a simple member of a good team.

Don’t compare him to Cabrera until he hits comparably.
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#26 In My La-Z-boy

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 08:13 AM

 

To me, Sanó angst is all about the hype. When he got to the majors, the comparisons were to Frank Thomas and triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera. He was supposed to be a power hitter who would hit .300 or better. His debut half-season gave us believers plenty of evidence that he would be such a hitter and soon. The first half of 2017 was more "proof". Injuries combined with struggles the last half of 2017 and most of 2018 show that he's not really improved. 

 

We were promised Miguel Cabrera and we're getting Mark Reynolds. I am not sure if it is potential wasted or if this is what Sanó was meant to be. Also, he just turned 26, a lot of players have broken out in their mid to late 20s.

Bingo. You can place most of the blame for our fan angst on Terry Ryan. Sano batting 3rd 2 years ago and having our entire future placed on his shoulders was all on the front office. Throwing sand in our eyes as we struggled to watch the 2011-2015 years. Then Ryan decides to make him a RF'er - are you joking? In todays lineup, playing a competent 3B & batting 7th - Sano fits nicely. 

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#27 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 08:25 AM

 

It is what it is. If he could just magically strike out less, he would. The good (walks/power) come with the bad (low BA driven by K%). There would be trade-offs if he became more aggressive earlier in the count, and most likely he would become a worse hitter.

Tell that to Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton, two guys that have trimmed their K rates by over 10% and seen their productivity shoot through the roof as a result (and I'm not even asking for that large of an improvement from Sano, just a mild improvement on those abysmal K and contact rates).

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#28 jz7233

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 08:32 AM

 

It is what it is. If he could just magically strike out less, he would. The good (walks/power) come with the bad (low BA driven by K%). There would be trade-offs if he became more aggressive earlier in the count, and most likely he would become a worse hitter.

Sano needs to be able to hit offspeed pitches in order to reach his talent level. No pitcher in the major league is going to throw a fastball in the zone to him if he cannot handle offspeed stuff.

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#29 Doomtints

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 08:37 AM

I think any coaching to try to get him to change would affect his production. Leave him alone. If he starts to struggle, then start analyzing the problem.

 

 

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#30 ND-Fan

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 09:01 AM

This is not the player that was coming up through the minors and sold to the fans of the Twins. The potential that Sano has as player is now just shadow of what he could be. He may fit into this Twins line up and provide extra power to carry this team or i should say assist this team to winning. The bottem line here is that he had the talent to be so much more than that he could have been one of the elite players in the league. Now we get a player that is maybe 50% of what he could have been and if my guess is correct we will not be a Twin much longer because he is going to become expensive luxury that can be replaced by many coming up in the system. The assessment on talent potential was correct but the assessment on character makeup and individual makeup was way off. Thankfully some of the other Twins talent has exceeded first thought by everyone and now some of expected talent is getting there.I would be surprised to see Sano here by end of next season and i wonder even for this season.

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#31 JW24

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 09:16 AM

There was an article posted last week on this site asking if Sano was a fading superstar and all the comments were critical of the writing and the question because he is only 26, only has 1,700 career plate appearances, OPS over 1.000 (at the time), and is going to strikeout a ton because that is who he is.

 

The comments on this article are now mostly critical of Sano and his approach, and comparing him to guys like Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds.

 

Sano's ceiling depends entirely on his ability to reduce his K% and increase his BB%. As he gets more at bats over his career, he will hopefully see both of those ratios shift in his advantage. He will be a guy who is incredibly frustrating at times, and a guy who can carry an offense by himself at others. It is nice he has as much support up and down the lineup now so he does not have to carry the offense.


#32 birdwatcher

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 09:27 AM

There's three things I don't accept:

 

1. That exorbitant strikeout rates aren't bad. They're bad.

 

2. That a K is no worse than any other out. It's worse.

 

3. That Sano's current K rate is what it's gonna be. Why can't he improve his contact rate and/or reduce his whiff percentage?

 

I don't know squat, but I just wonder if he can do wrist strengthening exercises or something else to reduce those failed check swings. Isn't this a massive problem for him? Anyone have thoughts?

Edited by birdwatcher, 12 June 2019 - 09:52 AM.

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#33 drivlikejehu

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 09:37 AM

 

Tell that to Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton, two guys that have trimmed their K rates by over 10% and seen their productivity shoot through the roof as a result (and I'm not even asking for that large of an improvement from Sano, just a mild improvement on those abysmal K and contact rates).

 

It's great that Rosario and Buxton made adjustments and improved as hitters. But that really has nothing at all to do with Sano. If he could magically improve, as you request, that would be nice for sure. Baseball is hard. Sano's approach means deep counts, and his power relies on swinging hard rather than focusing on contact.

 

Every player in baseball, and every person in the world for that matter, would love to just erase their weaknesses. I don't see the point in harping on it. Sano hopefully is doing his best to improve, but beyond that there's nothing anyone on here can meaningfully say about it.

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#34 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 09:49 AM

 

It's great that Rosario and Buxton made adjustments and improved as hitters. But that really has nothing at all to do with Sano. If he could magically improve, as you request, that would be nice for sure. Baseball is hard. Sano's approach means deep counts, and his power relies on swinging hard rather than focusing on contact.

 

Every player in baseball, and every person in the world for that matter, would love to just erase their weaknesses. I don't see the point in harping on it. Sano hopefully is doing his best to improve, but beyond that there's nothing anyone on here can meaningfully say about it.

You keep using the word "magically" as if it's impossible for a player to improve his pitch recognition and ability to lay off breaking balls.

 

A few years back, I said Eddie Rosario simply needs to lay off swinging at the worst 3-4% of pitches thrown to him and he'd be an above average player. I remember outright ridicule from some posters, saying that such a small change would barely make a dent in his numbers.

 

Well...

 

Outside Zone Swing Rate:

2016: 41.7%

2017: 37.6%

 

OPS:

2016: .716

2017: .836

 

Small changes can reap huge rewards in this game, particularly when it comes to pitch selection and contact. Better selection means more pitches seen, which forces pitchers to throw more pitches in the zone. More pitches in the zone means more and better contact. It's a waterfall effect; small changes over thousands of pitches seen add up to more hits, more walks, and higher slugging.

 

I'm not asking for Sano to "magically" become a different player, I'm saying he needs to work on a few small adjustments to become a better version of the player he is today, just as Rosario is not suddenly Joe Mauer just because he stopped swinging at pitches three feet out of the zone.

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#35 Doomtints

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 09:58 AM

1) The percentage of pitches swung at by Sano is less than Schoop, Rosario, and Buxton.

2) 31.4% of the "strikes" against Sano are foul balls.

3) The only player on the team with a higher 3-0 count percentage is Garver.

4) Sano leads the team in 2-0 count percentage and 3-1 count percentage.

5) Sano is 3rd best on the team for looking strikeout percentage.

 

The moral: Not all strikeouts are the same. Sano is consistently having good at bats and is challenging pitchers.

Edited by Doomtints, 12 June 2019 - 10:00 AM.

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#36 Minfidel

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 10:10 AM

 

Indirectly, yes. His reputation led to him getting nothing but sliders

Exactly. We see how the other team's react when Buxton gets on base as he reduces their margin for error and can force mistakes. Sano does the same at the plate. Trying to keep the ball low and away from him with runners on can turn in to low-and-too-far-away, or even a short hop. 

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#37 Don Walcott

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 10:11 AM

 

I totally agree. Sano's numbers look great and he's mashing a lot of the time. But when a guy like Adams or a reliever with some strikeout ability gets up there, it seems like Sano has no chance. He struck out twice in that AB (I think he went with the check-swing on the wild pitch) and I wish he could shorten up his swing when he's down in the count 0-2 / 1-2. 

Go look at the replay on MLB.com. It wasn't even close to being a swing.


#38 Taildragger8791

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 10:23 AM

 

1) The percentage of pitches swung at by Sano is less than Schoop, Rosario, and Buxton.

2) 31.4% of the "strikes" against Sano are foul balls.

3) The only player on the team with a higher 3-0 count percentage is Garver.

4) Sano leads the team in 2-0 count percentage and 3-1 count percentage.

5) Sano is 3rd best on the team for looking strikeout percentage.

 

The moral: Not all strikeouts are the same. Sano is consistently having good at bats and is challenging pitchers.

 

He's having as good of at bats as he can for his contact ability. The strikes/strikeouts have to come from somewhere though, which in this case means he's swinging and missing/fouling balls. Sort of agrees with the eye test.

 

I don't think of Sano as an undisciplined free swinger, I think he just has difficulty recognizing and hitting low breaking balls. That leads to a steady diet of said breaking balls which runs up the count and leads to walks and swinging Ks. I doubt a player can significantly improve their contact skills at this point in their career, but if he learns to spit on breaking balls that fall beneath the zone it'll be a significant game changer for him and the Twins.

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#39 jkcarew

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 10:25 AM

Sano's a nice 'problem' for this team to have. I agree with those that would like to see improvements in approach and recognition. I think small improvements would have a big impact. We have a lineup that affords the Twins the patience to see if that can happen. My wish (dream) is that Nelson Cruz likes to talk, and Miguel can get to a place where he can listen/learn. I like watching Sano. Shows a lot of joy for the game and his team-mates, IMO.

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#40 Doomtints

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 10:37 AM

 

He's having as good of at bats as he can for his contact ability. The strikes/strikeouts have to come from somewhere though, which in this case means he's swinging and missing/fouling balls. Sort of agrees with the eye test.

 

I don't think of Sano as an undisciplined free swinger, I think he just has difficulty recognizing and hitting low breaking balls. That leads to a steady diet of said breaking balls which runs up the count and leads to walks and swinging Ks. I doubt a player can significantly improve their contact skills at this point in their career, but if he learns to spit on breaking balls that fall beneath the zone it'll be a significant game changer for him and the Twins.

 

Maybe. I haven't looked but I'm guessing his low balls in play % this year is slightly out of character and that problem will fix itself with some more at-bats. He missed spring training and a sizeable chunk of the year so far. I'm surprised he is doing as well as he is given his very late start, and I think we all are surprised (thus these conversations).

 

The likelihood of Sano turning into Logan Morrison anytime soon is pretty low, so I'm not worried about it. He will be fine, especially on this team in this year where everyone is putting in their all. Frankly I'm more concerned with how Sano will do in future years.

 

There is some deja vu with this conversation, we had these sorts of convos for a long time around Rosario.

Edited by Doomtints, 12 June 2019 - 10:42 AM.

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