Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account

Miguel Sano Shows Process Drives Results

If you’ve followed me on Twitter, or my analysis-based writing for any amount of time, you know I’m a big “process drives results” believer. As Miguel Sano scuffled out of the gate this season that couldn’t have been truer, and we’re now seeing it come full circle.2020 has been anything but straightforward for sports, and Major League Baseball as a whole. For Miguel Sano, it got even more difficult when his return to the field during Summer Camp was delayed by an asymptomatic COVID-19 positive test result. He was finally ushered back into the action with roughly a week to go before Opening Day, and man did that show.


13 games into the season, and now playing a new position, Sano had bottomed out with a .111/.149/.356 slash line. He had a 23/2 K/BB and had generated just five extra-base hits in 47 plate appearances. For a guy that hits in the middle of the order and is expected to be an anchoring power bat, that’s about as bad as it gets.

That was August 9th, and on August 12th I rattled off some thoughts about why he was scuffling. My conclusion was that it was a matter of timing. He was seeing 4.66 pitches per plate appearance, second most in baseball at that point. Despite seeing all of those pitches, he was striking out an astronomical amount and the balls he was putting in play were rather fruitless.



What became apparent is that his timing wasn’t only off, but he was working through simply setting himself up for future success. Sano strikes out plenty, but he’s anything but an undisciplined hitter. He was taking pitches to get an idea of what he was seeing Pitchers exploited that to the tune of a 74.5% first pitch strike percentage. When he was swinging, the bat path wasn’t ideal as he was still behind, and the negative results followed. Statistics weren’t pretty, but the process here was a plan for something more.


Hello, we’ve now arrived at that something more. Sano is currently seeing 4.38 pitches per plate appearance which is 8th most in baseball. Instead of all the whiffs though, he’s got a 33/13 K/BB in his last 21 games and owns a .329/.440/.686 slash line. In his last 84 plate appearances he’s generated 15 extra base hits (including five dingers) and has become among baseballs hottest hitters.


The most drastic difference in the two separate splits are that Miguel Sano has gone from being the hunted to the hunter. Now timing pitches well and settled in, he’s seeing first pitch strikes just 48.8% of the time, down over 25%. Opposing pitchers realize he’s up there and ready to do damage, and it’s forced them to work counts rather than immediately get ahead. When he was working on getting going, Sano was hitting the ball hard over 54% of the time, but now on pitches that too has jumped to a crazy 64.9% hard hit rate. He’s dialed in.


Another point I touched on in the Twitter thread regarding his timing issues what the bat path and resulting launch angle. Through August 9th Sano had an average launch angle of 27.2 degrees. While it is true that success in baseball relies on elevation, there’s a threshold that a line drive or long fly ball turns into nothing more than a routine pop up, no matter how hard you hit it. Sano has surpassed that mark early on in the season. Since that point he’s generate a 17.2-degree average launch angle which falls right into the green zone of line drive or home run hitter.


In short, the Twins slugger allowed opposing pitchers to win the battle so he could focus on winning the war. By taking an extra couple of weeks to get his version of Summer Camp in, he sacrificed some early season production in order to capitalize when it mattered most. He’s now timing pitches, and although a streak this hot may not last, it’s a foundation he can be happy with.


We saw James Rowson break down Sano’s swing and completely rebuild him last year, all at the Major League level. This time, Sano did the process work on his own because it wasn’t a mechanical issue, and he’s reaping the benefits. A younger version of this man likely would’ve relied on his talent alone and fought through it for immediate gain. Now bought into work and sustained success, it’s the same reason why being fat was always a result and never the problem. Miguel Sano is invested in his own success and getting the most out of his career. Even in this shortened season, he saw the bigger picture, and now the opposition is seeing the big flies.



— Latest Twins coverage from our writers

— Recent Twins discussion in our forums

— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email


Click here to view the article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Recommended Posts

Always found it interesting and humorous how some people downgrade Sano for not being a super star all the time. Despite some injury interruptions, we've seen what he can do. He appears to have really matured in regard to work ethic, dedication, etc. But he bad virtually ZERO time to ramp up. (Same for Buxton, FWIW).


He will always SO a lot, but hello to the new age of MLB and a powerful bar, which is not really unique to power hitters.


Where I really want to give him credit is his defense.


Yes, I've seen him out of position a few times. Yes, I've seen him chasing foul ball pop ups where he should have been wearing bells and an orange vest to not collide and damage teammates.


But I've also seen a former 3B make some great grabs. I've seen great stretches and great scoops. He's still learning the nuances of 1B. Did anyone expect greatness his first year there? I have been so very impressed by his play that I think he could be a a fixture there for the next few years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great analysis.  I do not want to pat myself on the back, and I certainly didn't announce it publicly, but I did expect this would happen (his fielding).  Why, you might ask?  Because I played 3b and C and was moved to 1b for a few weeks.  The wicked hops you get at 3b and the short hops you have to dig as a C gives you the requisite tools and reaction time to scoop a great deal of errant throws at 1b.  The stretch - not a net result of time at either 3b or C.  So, because Sano had pretty solid reaction time in taking 'hot shots' at 3b, I expected him to do well with scoops.  For the same reason, I did also believe that Mauer would adapt very well from C to 1b.  I cannot explain the stretches, but he is a very good athlete for his size.  He does get lackadaisical at pop-ups, as he was at 3b.  His arm was always crazy strong, so it is nice to have on the rare plays that a 1b needs it.  His improved work ethic I attribute to Nelson Cruz, who is just an AMAZING influence on any young ballplayer willing to listen to his thoughtful and prepared approach to the game.  Cruz is one of my favorite Twins in only 1.5 years.  A revelation at 40.  I was also surprised and happy to see Sano re-sign without a whole bunch of arrogance or drama.  I also attribute that to wanting to play with Cruz and the team he matriculated with.  Great for the Twins long-term.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with the comments so far.  Every player will struggle from time to time.  Look at who some were picking to be best in basebal, Yelich.  I am impressed with Sano's scooping and stretching, still needs the reps for when to go after a ball and when not too, but that is something only reps will get you.  People forget he was signed as a SS, but no one expected him to stay there but he did play a year at SS if I recall in the minors.  


When he is on, he hits the ball as hard as anyone in the league, but he clearly is a guy that needs a lot of time to get right in the box.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To put that hard hit% into context, on the year he's at 61.0%, good for 3rd place and only one of three at or above 60%. The leader is at 61.8%.


Last year's leader was Nelson Cruz at 52.5%. So 61.8% is ungodly.


For the last 30 days, Sano is leading the pack at 65.9%!!!. Second is 61.5%. nearly 4.5% above second - the same gap as between 2nd place and 8th place on the leaderboard.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


Featured Video

  • Create New...