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

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#61 Taildragger8791

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 12:34 PM

 

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.

 

I'm curious what impact shifting has on defensive metrics like that. Regularly playing Sano in the hole or on the other side of 2nd base isn't really a fair assessment of how he performs as a 3rd basemen. But then again if that's the direction the game is going maybe the skills required for 3rd basemen are changing also, pushing guys like Sano across the diamond or elsewhere.

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#62 Jham

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 12:43 PM

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.


Is that elite power?

#63 SomeGuy

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 12:44 PM

 

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.

Its not like he found his homerun stroke this year compared to 2015-2017 when he posted great BABIP numbers. For someone who consistently makes hard contact he should see a higher BABIP. His homerun totals shouldn't explain his decrease in BABIP. His homerun to flyball rate is pretty much what it was in 2017 but his BABIP is 100 points lower.

Edited by SomeGuy, 12 June 2019 - 12:54 PM.


#64 Jham

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 12:55 PM

Its not like he found his power stroke this year compared to 2015-2017 when he posted great BABIP numbers. For someone who consistently makes hard contact he should see a higher BABIP. His homerun totals shouldn't explain his decrease in BABIP. His homerun to flyball rate is pretty much what it was in 2017 but his BABIP is 100 points lower.


That's actually the point. More of his hard hit balls are leaving the park than usual. Balls that likely would have been hits if they stayed in the yard are HR. Thus high hard contact%, lower babip. Potentially luck neutral. As babip normalizes up so too will his HR numbers down. Which was my point on Ks being more of a problem than recognized because his numbers are inflated by an unsustainable HR rate.

Edited by Jham, 12 June 2019 - 01:14 PM.


#65 Don Walcott

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 01:07 PM

 

Is that elite power?

33 HRs in 100 games? Yes. Averaging 37 per 162 in the equivalent of his first 2.5 full seasons in the majors? Possibly debatable, but I'd say that's elite.


#66 SomeGuy

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 01:11 PM

 

That's actually the point. More of his hard hit balls are leaving the park than usual. Balls that likely would have been his if they stayed in the yard. Thus high hard contact%, lower babip. Potentially luck neutral. As babip normalizes up so too will his HR numbers down. Which was my point on Ks being more of a problem than recognized because his numbers are inflated by an unsustainable HR rate.

2018-2019 BABIP of .286 and 19 homerun in 378 PA 5.02%

2017 BABIP of .375 and 28 homerun in 483 PA 5.08%

 

I can see his BABIP increasing over time which was my original point but I don't think homeruns are causing the 75 point decrease on his career BABIP. BABIP isn't a perfect vacuum to measure but if he can continue to hit the ball hard his BABIP and average should pick up a bit.

 

His sample size is small enough to make this kind of a silly discussion but 2 less homeruns would make his rate really close but less than 2017, if both those homeruns instead fell for hits he would be about .320 BABIP. A "normal" homerun rate still wouldn't have him at career levels.

 

Look at Joey Gallo, career highs in homerun rate, hard hit%, and BABIP

Edited by SomeGuy, 12 June 2019 - 01:56 PM.


#67 DocBauer

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 01:51 PM

I get the gist of the OP, and don't disagree Sano is a force, a producer, and that he is at least a bit unfairly criticized due to his production with focus only on SO numbers.

But I also know that we love for our pitchers to have high SO rates. So SO are good for pitchers and not bad for hitters? There just is no logic behind that. SO are good for pitchers and bad for hitters because they are empty outs, producing nothing, including any chance to move a runner or create an error or anything of the sort.

And I'm saying this as a fan of Sano.

The question becomes at what level the number of SO is acceptable in regards to production. And I think Brock's post about improvement from Rosario, just 4%, lead to a significant difference in the production and the player Rosario is.

Sano will not change, should not change, and it would probably be impossible for him to change. But he can IMPROVE.

Good player or great player. Could be as simple as a 4% change in his strikeout/contact rate.
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#68 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 02:04 PM

I like Sano but it feels like he never really changes his vicious uppercut swing pathwhich results in more HRs, but also in a lot more high pop-us and strikeouts. I really wonder if he would;t really improve his play if he went to the "two strike approach" we all learned growing up to put the ball in play by flattening his swing and trying for the now hated hard ground ball/line drive. I know that might lower his HRs a bit, but would also lower his SO %. Good trade off?  


#69 Jham

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 02:52 PM

2018-2019 BABIP of .286 and 19 homerun in 378 PA 5.02%
2017 BABIP of .375 and 28 homerun in 483 PA 5.08%

I can see his BABIP increasing over time which was my original point but I don't think homeruns are causing the 75 point decrease on his career BABIP. BABIP isn't a perfect vacuum to measure but if he can continue to hit the ball hard his BABIP and average should pick up a bit.

His sample size is small enough to make this kind of a silly discussion but 2 less homeruns would make his rate really close but less than 2017, if both those homeruns instead fell for hits he would be about .320 BABIP. A "normal" homerun rate still wouldn't have him at career levels.

Look at Joey Gallo, career highs in homerun rate, hard hit%, and BABIP


I'm not disputing that Sano could be hindered by bad luck. Just thought that the HR might even it out. Apparently he's sustained this level of HR production for long stretches previously. Maybe this is a return to 2017 form. Let's hope. I remain somewhat skeptical. I'm encouraged by his willingness to go the other way, for instance, but would like to see how he handles a slump before saying "don't worry about cutting back on k's," because I think that catches up with him before he catches up with babip.

#70 jorgenswest

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 02:59 PM

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.


I think people have been wondering if he can stick at 3B since he arrived in 2015.

Five seasons and nearly 1800 innings and he has a career UZR150 of -1.1. He has performed as an average 3B. That won’t continue forever but it doesn’t for anyone as they approach 30. Defense declines first.

Will he stick at 3B? Is 5 years sticking at 3B? The guys in the Twins front office making a living in baseball see him as a 3B. His performance suggests he will be next year.

His performance as close to an average 3B with his power is an asset to this team.
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#71 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 03:14 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.

 

Sano has almost 1700 career PA.Austin has less than 500 career PA.That's 3 times the sample that puts Sano at a HR rate that would place him 100th all time if he had 3,000 PA's.It would also put him at 14th among active players.Given his HR rate is accelerating (1 every 13.2 PA this year), that seems likely to hold up.


#72 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 03:28 PM

 

I get the gist of the OP, and don't disagree Sano is a force, a producer, and that he is at least a bit unfairly criticized due to his production with focus only on SO numbers.

But I also know that we love for our pitchers to have high SO rates. So SO are good for pitchers and not bad for hitters? There just is no logic behind that. SO are good for pitchers and bad for hitters because they are empty outs, producing nothing, including any chance to move a runner or create an error or anything of the sort.

And I'm saying this as a fan of Sano.

The question becomes at what level the number of SO is acceptable in regards to production. And I think Brock's post about improvement from Rosario, just 4%, lead to a significant difference in the production and the player Rosario is.

Sano will not change, should not change, and it would probably be impossible for him to change. But he can IMPROVE.

Good player or great player. Could be as simple as a 4% change in his strikeout/contact rate.

 

Strikeouts are good for pitchers, and bad for hitters, but its by degrees.A hitter is going to make outs at least 60% of the time.While balls in play can move runners up, or get them in, they can also erase lead runners via double plays or baserunning gaffes.A strikeout is always one out, unless the ball gets away from the catcher, and a runner tries to advance.So in the sense that a certain number of outs are guaranteed, the upside of balls in play is at least somewhat cancelled by the downside of balls in play, whereas strikeouts are neutral.

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#73 yarnivek1972

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 03:48 PM

I think people have been wondering if he can stick at 3B since he arrived in 2015.

Five seasons and nearly 1800 innings and he has a career UZR150 of -1.1. He has performed as an average 3B. That won’t continue forever but it doesn’t for anyone as they approach 30. Defense declines first.

Will he stick at 3B? Is 5 years sticking at 3B? The guys in the Twins front office making a living in baseball see him as a 3B. His performance suggests he will be next year.

His performance as close to an average 3B with his power is an asset to this team.


I don’t think a rating of zero is “average”. There are 39 thirdbaseman who have played at least 1500 innings since 2015 (Sano has 1700). Sano is ranked 26th. That’s not good, nor is it average.

#74 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 04:01 PM

I don’t think a rating of zero is “average”. There are 39 thirdbaseman who have played at least 1500 innings since 2015 (Sano has 1700). Sano is ranked 26th. That’s not good, nor is it average.


UZR is scaled from 0 being league average.

#75 jorgenswest

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 04:24 PM

 

I don’t think a rating of zero is “average”. There are 39 thirdbaseman who have played at least 1500 innings since 2015 (Sano has 1700). Sano is ranked 26th. That’s not good, nor is it average.

 

I suppose it is hard to get to 1500 innings if you are well below average so that set of players may be skewed. Sano is below the median of that skewed group.

 

I looked at the UZR by team at 3B for this year. There are 15 teams above 0 and 15 teams below 0. The Twins rank is second.

 

I don't see support for a conclusion of terrible play at 3B where it would be necessary to move Sano off 3B in the near future.

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#76 Nine of twelve

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 04:31 PM

 

You're going to give Sano credit for a WP?

I award partial credit. When the batter can hit a ball close to 500 feet the pitcher has to attempt more difficult-to-execute pitches. That makes wild pitches more likely to occur. If Jason Tyner is at the plate just throw a middling fastball or slider and you'll be fine.

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#77 DocBauer

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 05:38 PM

Strikeouts are good for pitchers, and bad for hitters, but its by degrees. A hitter is going to make outs at least 60% of the time. While balls in play can move runners up, or get them in, they can also erase lead runners via double plays or baserunning gaffes. A strikeout is always one out, unless the ball gets away from the catcher, and a runner tries to advance. So in the sense that a certain number of outs are guaranteed, the upside of balls in play is at least somewhat cancelled by the downside of balls in play, whereas strikeouts are neutral.


And you make a valid point about a contact reading a lead runner, perhaps even setting up a double play. I agree with your point. But a little better selectivity, a little better contact, say a drop from 40% to 35% in SO percentage, and you end up greater opportunity for SOMETHING better than a neural out. Maybe something as simple as a sac fly, is the point I'm making.
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#78 DocBauer

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 05:43 PM

I think people have been wondering if he can stick at 3B since he arrived in 2015.

Five seasons and nearly 1800 innings and he has a career UZR150 of -1.1. He has performed as an average 3B. That won’t continue forever but it doesn’t for anyone as they approach 30. Defense declines first.

Will he stick at 3B? Is 5 years sticking at 3B? The guys in the Twins front office making a living in baseball see him as a 3B. His performance suggests he will be next year.

His performance as close to an average 3B with his power is an asset to this team.


Nice post. I've seen a lot of 3B in my day, some with big bats, that are not as good defensively as Sano. Good hands, great at charging balls, VASTLY improved on pop ups, and that cannon for an arm. I think he's just fine at 3B for the next few years for sure.

And to bring that offense makes him a very valuable player. It's all about recognition and just slight improvement to raise his production to another level. Not talking hitting .300, just better overall contact leads to better overall numbers and production.

I think we are on the same page here.
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#79 yarnivek1972

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 05:58 PM

I suppose it is hard to get to 1500 innings if you are well below average so that set of players may be skewed. Sano is below the median of that skewed group.

I looked at the UZR by team at 3B for this year. There are 15 teams above 0 and 15 teams below 0. The Twins rank is second.

I don't see support for a conclusion of terrible play at 3B where it would be necessary to move Sano off 3B in the near future.



What relevance is team ranking at 3b? Sano hasn’t even played 1/4 of the team’s games there.


It is also worth noting that in 0 seasons has Sano started even 80 games at 3b at the MLB level. I suspect he won’t in 2019 either.

So, I would suggest that Twins decision makers have already reached the conclusion that Sano isn’t a fulltime third baseman. Whether it is due to injuries or performance issues is irrelevant. He isn’t the full time third baseman in the present and almost certainly won’t be in the near future.
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#80 Platoon

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 06:29 PM

Sano has almost 1700 career PA.Austin has less than 500 career PA.That's 3 times the sample that puts Sano at a HR rate that would place him 100th all time if he had 3,000 PA's.It would also put him at 14th among active players.Given his HR rate is accelerating (1 every 13.2 PA this year), that seems likely to hold up.

Jason Castros HR rate is accelerating this year, as is Andrianzas and approximately 300 other players in MLB. From the numbers put up in May, they must be hitting golf balls! :)
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