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Article: How Miguel Sano Can Fix His Swing

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#21 jimbo92107

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 09:38 AM

When David Ortiz left the Twins for Boston, he complained that the Twins tried too hard to make him a "disciplined, complete hitter," or something like that. He said they tried to make him hit the ball oppo in certain counts, while Ortiz simply wanted to bash every ball as hard as possible. According to Ortiz, the Red Sox let him become Big Papi, a home run hitting beast he was meant to be. 

 

I am wondering if the Twins are making the opposite mistake with Miguel Sano. Are they simply refusing to tamper with his massive swings, or are they allowing Sano to refuse any significant coaching on his massive swings? 

 

Thing is, I have seen Sano hit the ball for singles. The man can handle the bat, when he wants to. To me, Sano's "problems" with his swing seem more like policy confusion than mechanics. When he doesn't commit to his planet-splitting home run swing, Sano can barrel the ball up with shocking precision. I say 'shocking' because his singles swing is so much different than his home run swing. I have seen Sano flip his wrists and send an easy line drive to the outfield. When he swings like that, does he still have the same vulnerabilities? I suspect not. 

 

In fact, I suspect that Twins management is telling Baldelli to give Sano the home run green light every at-bat. Why? Comes down to the old butts in the seats. People come to the stadium to see Sano bash a ball twenty feet over the wall, not to see him stroke singles, even if a single would drive in a game-winning RBI. 

 

I agree with Parker that Sano needs to load up earlier, so he can get a better read on pitches. But if he does that, it won't change Twins policy about Sano. They will still want him to do his massive swing, even in situations where the team really just needs a hit. The problems may seem separate, but are they really? When Sano reduces his swing to stroke singles, some of those will still go over the wall. He doesn't need to put every ounce of his strength in to every swing, just barrel it up and watch 'em fly. It's a little like the Sandy Koufax problem. Koufax didn't need to throw so hard to get guys out. In Sano's case, he doesn't need to swing so hard to hit balls out. 

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#22 Jham

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 09:56 AM

Parker, great article. In your Kepler analysis from last year (a follow up on that would be awesome) we discussed wrists/ hands vs. shoulder and barrel turn. It seems that guys like Mauer and rosie could drop down for lower pitches while also getting on top of high fastballs because of a very quick barrel turn. Kepler was very gettable up on the zone. Has he improved?

I don't know if barrel turn is a skill that can be taught with a total retooling.

To me, simple fixes first. 1) What's your feeling on axe handled bats? 2) His swing plane is much less extreme going to right center. Maybe focus on that approach.
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#23 Doomtints

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 10:06 AM

Though this is interesting I hope none of the Twins would think to follow advice from an online forum. ;)

 

As others have pointed out, Sano looks lost up there, like he isn't even seeing the ball. This is similar to how Buxton would look when he struggled.

 

Compounding matters, his defense has been worse.

 

I think the best thing for Sano right now is to ride the pine a couple of days and work on a plan with the hitting staff. (Assuming it wasn't a talk with the hitting staff which caused this mess, mind you, in which case the advice would be to forget everything he was told and buddy up with Cruz to shake things off.)

Edited by Doomtints, 24 June 2019 - 10:07 AM.

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#24 Badsmerf

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 10:40 AM

Parker-

With so much evidence we now have about pre-swing dynamics that set up a player to be successful, why do they resist so much? Sano has so much movement in his hands, and an unbalanced stance he is nagging it hard on himself before the pitch is even released. We see this same thing when young players are called up, only to slow down their hands, adopt a solid stance and have success. Older Twins like plouffe and cuddyer had to go through the same transformation. Why isn't this being corrected in the minors?
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#25 Parker Hageman

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 02:04 PM

Parker, great article. In your Kepler analysis from last year (a follow up on that would be awesome) we discussed wrists/ hands vs. shoulder and barrel turn. It seems that guys like Mauer and rosie could drop down for lower pitches while also getting on top of high fastballs because of a very quick barrel turn. Kepler was very gettable up on the zone. Has he improved?

 

 

Kepler has fared much better at fastballs up this year. In fact, 5 of his home runs have come on fastballs up in the zone (like this one, this one, and this one). There's a reason behind that which I hope to discuss more in a post in the coming weeks.

 

He still swings through a lot of those fastballs but the ones he does connect in that area, he's lifting well. But his swing plane isn't really geared toward that portion of the zone, he does most of his damage on fastballs down whereas Eddie Rosario's barrel turn does most of his damage on fastballs up (and struggling a bit on fastballs down).

 

Barrel turning, like any movement, it can be added to the swing. It just takes time and dedication. It is difficult to see a hitter make that kind of adjustment in season. The suggestion of getting to the launch point sooner isn't that much of a fundamental difference in the overall swing. Turning the barrel would be a big change from how he has delivered it in the past.

 

1. Axe bats are great. This spring I was talking with Michael Cuddyer about hitting and I asked him his thoughts on the Axe bats, half expecting him to poo-poo them as newfangled science. He lit up. He says all his kids now swing Axe bats and he wished he had that opportunity while playing in the pros. I've since bought my daughter one for her fastpitch season and you can see how well it keeps wrists from rolling early. It definitely is a different feel in your hand so I can see what some players might be resistant. 

 

2. It's possible that's what they are working on -- driving things to right-center. Here's another stat that missed the cut for the article: the volume of fastballs middle-in that he yanks foul is staggering. He's fouled off 65% of fastballs he's swung at on the middle-third, the highest in baseball. That says to me he's trying to pull those pitches with a vengeance. And that's fine. Do damage. However, the more times you miss something middle-in and foul it off, the quicker you might get to two-strikes. The quicker you get to two-strikes, the more likely you will see those stupid sliders and spinning fastballs at your letters. If he makes adjustments and starts driving those pitches early (instead of fouling them off), he could get on a tear. 

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#26 Parker Hageman

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 02:20 PM

With so much evidence we now have about pre-swing dynamics that set up a player to be successful, why do they resist so much? ... Why isn't this being corrected in the minors?

 

 

I don't know if they are resistant. Players like to do things the way they have done things. Byron Buxton is a prime example. I think in the case of Sano -- and I'm wildly speculating here -- that he does know that he's struggling and has tried to shift some things. During the series in Cleveland Sano tried to kill his leg kick much like Buxton did.

 

And like Buxton, it looked completely foreign. It must have felt that way too since he came back after a rain delay with the leg kick. 

 

 

There's also the case of when he struggles for a bit and then hammers a pitch into the third deck, there's a burst of reaffirmation that he's doing things correctly. But really it's just that he ran into a mistake pitch in the one spot he's swinging well at. After that, he goes about everything the same way and winds up picked apart again. That's my view from the couch. 

 

In regards to why it wasn't fixed in the minors, it's probably because Sano mashed everything in the minor leagues. It's possible that he rarely saw good velocity fastballs up. We're only a few years into the understanding of high spin fastballs and that pitchers are asked to elevate. (It's crazy, i remember writing an article in 2014 begging the Twins to start elevating fastballs and it took another 2 years before it became a regular thing.) 

 

The Twins now have their players using Blast Motion sensors that measures swing plane elements. There's an analyst hired -- Rachel Heacock -- who I believe is in charge of that program. They now have tons of data, analysts crunching it and coaches distributing it through out the minor leagues. If a player has an obvious shortcoming or hole in their swing, they will attack it then instead of allowing a player to advance. 

 

"You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time." -- Jim Bouton, "Ball Four"


#27 Einheri

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 02:50 PM

"Rip the governor off?"
Is that a voice-to-text dictation error for "Rip the cover off"?


#28 nmtwinsfan

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 06:14 PM

I think that one of the things that's most frustrating about the all the strikeouts is Miguel is so strong that any time he makes contact the ball has a chance to go over the fence. Maybe it's a good thing overall that people are less concerned about strikeouts, and with a power hitter like Sano you're always going to have your share, but if he can put the ball in play one more time out ten it just seems like good things can happen.

#29 nmtwinsfan

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 06:14 PM

I think that one of the things that's most frustrating about the all the strikeouts is Miguel is so strong that any time he makes contact the ball has a chance to go over the fence. Maybe it's a good thing overall that people are less concerned about strikeouts, and with a power hitter like Sano you're always going to have your share, but if he can put the ball in play one more time out ten it just seems like good things can happen.

#30 Linus

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 07:11 PM

He needs to mimic Garver or Kepler. He would hit a lot of homers and be a complete hitter. That have much more direct swings to the hitting zone

#31 DocBauer

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 07:14 PM

Kepler has fared much better at fastballs up this year. In fact, 5 of his home runs have come on fastballs up in the zone (like this one, this one, and this one).
2. It's possible that's what they are working on -- driving things to right-center. Here's another stat that missed the cut for the article: the volume of fastballs middle-in that he yanks foul is staggering. He's fouled off 65% of fastballs he's swung at on the middle-third, the highest in baseball. That says to me he's trying to pull those pitches with a vengeance. And that's fine. Do damage. However, the more times you miss something middle-in and foul it off, the quicker you might get to two-strikes. The quicker you get to two-strikes, the more likely you will see those stupid sliders and spinning fastballs at your letters. If he makes adjustments and starts driving those pitches early (instead of fouling them off), he could get on a tear.

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#32 DocBauer

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 07:24 PM

Grrrr.....was attempting to quote point #2 about the number of middle to in pitches being yanked foul and blew it somehow. Parker, to me that goes back not only to his late "cocking" of his hands, but also the sense he is leaning forward in his stance. Not saying he is off balance, but his left shoulder seems to be tilted in and down. To me, that would seem he is having a hard time opening up quickly enough to barrell up on those balls and drive them straight and true SOMEWHERE. Do you feel that his late cock of the hands is a device to just mash the ball? He has so much natural strength, I would think a slightly more "upright" stance and earlier placement of the hands would allow much quicker reaction time, as stated, but drive the middle in pitches so much better. Might also allow him to lay off the outside stuff more. Forget covering the plate when down in the count, if your whole body stance is focused downward those outside pitches would inevitably look more reachable when they are not. Your analysis is outstanding! But with all due respect, shouldn't Rowson and the entire analytics staff be able to see these same things? Maybe you need to apply for, at the least, a part time job working for our beloved Twins. :)

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#33 Parker Hageman

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 10:05 AM

Do you feel that his late cock of the hands is a device to just mash the ball?

 

 

It might be to him but, mechanically speaking, there are plenty of large individuals who drive the ball without needed to roll to and through the launch point (Aaron Judge is another that comes to mind). He doesn't *need* to do it to mash. A lot of hitters use some movement as a timing mechanism (Brian Dozier's pre-swing barrel tip comes to mind).  

 

One of the things that has made Buxton so effective this year is his brief pause at the launch point instead of rolling through it into the swing. It creates a stretch point and the added ability to shut a swing down. 

 

But with all due respect, shouldn't Rowson and the entire analytics staff be able to see these same things?

 

 

The Twins have far more tools and people on staff to ID and create a plan of attack to solve. I'm certain they know this and more. They are likely trying to do things but it just takes time. 

"You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time." -- Jim Bouton, "Ball Four"


#34 Parker Hageman

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Posted 28 June 2019 - 08:32 AM

Strib's Jim Souhan wrote a column today basically confirming that the Twins and Sano are essentially working on the hands. 

 

“We’re working on getting my hands into position,” Sano said. “We still have the second half of the season.”

 

 

and stuff from Falvey:

“Clearly there are some pitches that it feels like he’s not getting to, that he is capable of getting to,” Falvey said. “It’s not a question of bat speed. There are maybe some things with his load and the way his hands work behind that are going to allow him to be more on time.

 

“He’s a tick late consistently on some of the pitches up, and that’s the area I think he wants to be focused. Rocco said he’s been super-accepting and amenable to those conversations and making sure that he’s working smartly.”

 

 

You heard it hear first folks.

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#35 SpicyGarvSauce

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Posted 28 June 2019 - 09:03 AM

 

Strib's Jim Souhan wrote a column today basically confirming that the Twins and Sano are essentially working on the hands. 

 

 

and stuff from Falvey:

 

You heard it hear first folks.

 

At least, from the quotes above, that Sano is open to working on and correcting the issues. It is comforting to know he isn't just sticking to his guns, and telling the coaching staff and others to take a hike.


#36 Badsmerf

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Posted 28 June 2019 - 09:13 AM

If he is willing to take direction, it is only a matter of time. The guy has talent. The internal debate I'm having is wether to let him work through it in the lineup, in AAA, or with lots of time on the bench. I lean toward the latter.
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#37 Linus

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Posted 29 June 2019 - 06:38 AM

Just have him watch Garver in bp and then get in the cage right after and imitate him. He’ll never get that short and quick to the ball but he will get better



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