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

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#41 Don Walcott

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 10:44 AM

 

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.

The main difference between these conversations and those about Rosario is that there are always people who want to attack Sano's character, and this gives them a forum to do so -- even when he's raking.

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#42 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 10:46 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.

This is pretty much my opinion in a nutshell. Sano is a very good hitter but with that pitch recognition and contact ability, I suspect he's at or close to his ceiling.

 

Tweak that pitch recognition just a little and he could become something really special while still striking out a ton (just not as much as today).

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#43 Doomtints

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 10:48 AM

 

The main difference between these conversations and those about Rosario is that there are always people who want to attack Sano's character, and this gives them a forum to do so -- even when he's raking.

 

That's a part of it I'm sure. But whenever Rosario was brought up before, I was among a very small handful of people who spoke up for him. With these Sano discussions, it seems like more people are liking his production and placing a "but..." after it. With Rosario, people couldn't even see he was playing well until halfway through last year, which was insane....

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#44 Jham

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 10:48 AM

It's not a problem until it is a problem. We've seem him K like this. We've seen him hit like this. We've also seen him struggle and go through lengthy power slumps. He'll slump again (all hitters do) and when he does he'll offer almost no value.

To say the k's aren't a problem is short sighted and not realistic.

He's got plus power. I'm not sure it's elite though. In 9 professional seasons, he's only topped 30 HR twice with 35 off A and AA pitching being his career best.
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#45 Taildragger8791

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 10:53 AM

 

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

 

The difference there is Rosario always demonstrated an elite ability to get the bat to the ball. As he got better at pitch recognition and toned down the free-swinging he cut down the strikeouts and made more quality contact. I don't really see them as the same thing, but it does demonstrate the drastic improvement possible when a guy learns to lay off unhittable pitches. It took Rosario a while to get there because he had an elite skill to fall back on, so maybe Sano will follow a similar trajectory.

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#46 Don Walcott

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 10:55 AM

 

That's a part of it I'm sure. But whenever Rosario was brought up before, I was among a very small handful of people who spoke up for him. With these Sano discussions, it seems like more people are liking his production and placing a "but..." after it. With Rosario, people couldn't even see he was playing well until halfway through last year, which was insane....

I'm totally with you on Rosario -- and I always was.

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#47 Don Walcott

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 10:59 AM

 

 

It's not a problem until it is a problem. We've seem him K like this. We've seen him hit like this. We've also seen him struggle and go through lengthy power slumps. He'll slump again (all hitters do) and when he does he'll offer almost no value.

To say the k's aren't a problem is short sighted and not realistic.

He's got plus power. I'm not sure it's elite though. In 9 professional seasons, he's only topped 30 HR twice with 35 off A and AA pitching being his career best.

His 162-game average for his career is 37 HR. This season, if he plays 100 games, he's on pace to get 33 HR.

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#48 Vikingchef1968

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 11:03 AM

Bottom line is that he’ll get AB’s during the season to prepare him for the playoffs... If he doesn’t improve, he should not get the AB’s if he cannot hit the ball, period. Sure, walks count as getting on base, however, with RISP and he cannot make contact, I can almost guarantee he won’t be there.

Another thing, please stop comparing his stats to his peers on the team, the man has played 17 games, so it’s not a fair comparison, good or bad.

#49 Platoon

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 11:04 AM

Swinging hard for the fences on every pitch will increase the SO rate of any hitter, regardless his talent level. It's just not rocket science! As a hitter you have to adjust to the count, just as a pitcher adjusts what he throws to the count. Trying to hit a 5 run home run with no one on base simply makes the pitcher lick his chops. As for the idea that outs are all that matter? Yup, I get it. As for the idea that a SO is basically the same as a batted ball out? Hmmmmmmm. Let's see, the BABIP on a SO is .000. (Yes I know there is no BABIP during a SO) Take that versus the BABIP of the hitter in question, and my advanced statical analysis leans towards hitting the ball somewhere, somehow!! :) This is where situational hitting and RBI's actually prove their existence. If I have a guy on third and less than two outs, there is no one I would prefer at the plate more than a Sano. Of course I am speaking as an opposing pitcher. Almost 4 chances out of 10 you get a K? I'll take those odds, versus a contact hitter!
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#50 yarnivek1972

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 11:05 AM

Harmon Killebrew had an OPS+ of 131 or better from 1959 through 1972, his age 23 through 36 seasons. Sano is literally the same type of “three true outcomes” type hitter.

Sano isn’t anywhere close to that good and probably never consistently will be. He was certainly touted that highly. He is a good player. Not a great one. The problem is that I suspect he and his agent think he is better than he actually is. So, I expect him to do his time with the Twins and let someone else make a Chris Davis type mistake.

#51 Sconnie

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 11:15 AM

Qualifying a statement w/ "SSS but..." is like saying "no offense but...". Just because you said "no offense" doesn't mean you aren't offensive. Let's see if he can sustain that OPS while maintaining a 38% K rate. I'm with Brock - he doesn't have to improve much, but improvement in K-rate is a necessity or the other variables in baseball will take their toll on his peripheral stats.  

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#52 drivlikejehu

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 11:39 AM

 

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.

 

Are you suggesting that this idea has eluded the Twins' coaching staff, whose club leads MLB in RC+? What basis do you have to suggest that Sano isn't already trying to tweak his approach and mechanics? Isn't that something that basically all professional players do on a regular basis?

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#53 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 11:40 AM

He's hit 6 homers in 18 games.That's 54 homers in a 162 game season; that's only happened 26 times in baseball history.

 

His BABIP is .286 (well below his career average of .345), which is 105th in the league.

 

His soft contact percentage is now under 5, at 4.9%.That is best among the 345 hitters with 80 or more PA's this year, by almost 2 percentage points (Tyler Austin is next at 6.8%).

 

His hard contact percentage is at 51.2%, which is 11th among the 345 hitters with 80 or more PA's.

 

This is what Miguel Sano is--a guy that will always strikeout a lot, but will be legitimately one of the very best power hitters in the league when he doesn't.There is immense value to that.

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#54 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 12:00 PM

 

Are you suggesting that this idea has eluded the Twins' coaching staff, whose club leads MLB in RC+? What basis do you have to suggest that Sano isn't already trying to tweak his approach and mechanics? Isn't that something that basically all professional players do on a regular basis?

In no way have I even implied such a thing.


#55 SomeGuy

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 12:04 PM

 

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?

Not sure wrist strength is his problem with check swings (I bet he has more wrist strength than most players on the team). Improving his pitch recognition would help so he can see the breaking pitches earlier.

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#56 blindeke

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 12:07 PM

 

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 

 

I thought he swung too.

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#57 KGB

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 12:08 PM

 

 

This is what Miguel Sano is--a guy that will always strikeout a lot, but will be legitimately one of the very best power hitters in the league when he doesn't.There is immense value to that.

 For their career, Sano as a HR every 18.7 PA, Tyler Austin has one every 17.1 PA.In today's game, is his power really anything special? He really needs to provide more.


#58 SomeGuy

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 12:18 PM

Sano's BABIP might explain some of his low batting average. His batted ball stats are pretty consistent over his career. His hard hit% is 13th highest for players with 60+ PA but his BABIP is 5th lowest of the top 30 Hard Hit% leaders. No reason his BABIP can't be around .350 with what he is doing now, a little boost in BA might be coming.

 

2015 .396

2016 .329

2017 .375

2018 .286

2019 .286

Career .345


#59 yarnivek1972

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 12:22 PM

For their career, Sano as a HR every 18.7 PA, Tyler Austin has one every 17.1 PA. In today's game, is his power really anything special? He really needs to provide more.


It is if he can stick at 3b. I (and just about anyone who makes a living in the sport of baseball) don’t think he plays there even part time for more than 5 more years. He’s a terrible defender.

So far in 2019, he’s had about 50 chances at 3b. 40 of them ranked as routine. Of the other 10, he’s converted just two into outs, and they ranked as “likely (60-90%)”. I’m not sure exactly how fangraphs has him at a UZR/150 of 17 right now, but I suspect before the year is over it will be back in negative territory as it has been for his career.

#60 yarnivek1972

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 12:26 PM

Sano's BABIP might explain some of his low batting average. His batted ball stats are pretty consistent over his career. His hard hit% is 13th highest for players with 60+ PA but his BABIP is 5th lowest of the top 30 Hard Hit% leaders. No reason his BABIP can't be around .350 with what he is doing now, a little boost in BA might be coming.

2015 .396
2016 .329
2017 .375
2018 .286
2019 .286
Career .345


It’s worth remembering that homeruns aren’t considered “balls in play”. So they don’t help his BABIP. They don’t hurt it, directly except that it takes away those at bats. A higher than typical (career-wise) HR rate is likely going to result in a lower BABIP.
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