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Trust the Process, Not Early Results for Miguel Sanó


Miguel Sanó has shown over the last two seasons that his starts are far from a foreshadow.The date was June 28, 2019. Miguel Sanó was in the middle of one of his vintage slumps. He’d hit just .147 with a .544 OPS and 35 strikeouts over his last 74 plate appearances. The stretch was illuminated by a horrendous extra-innings loss to Tampa Bay, a game in which Sanó went 0-for-7.

 

I’m sure Twins Twitter™ was ablaze with calls to release the slugging third baseman. Sanó is certainly one of the more divisive players in Twins history. Warranted questions about his integrity, character and work ethic have loomed since his debut in 2015. The former top prospect’s rise has been anything but linear.

 

After a largely forgettable 2018 season, Sanó’s future in Minnesota was murky at best. He was struggling, already joining the starting nine late due to a fluke foot injury during the offseason.

 

One day after that 0-for-7 debacle, Sanó smacked two homers and walked in a 6-4 loss to the White Sox in Chicago. He never looked back. Sanó posted a 156 wRC+ from June 28 on, good for eighth in the American League. He blasted 25 home runs, third to only Nelson Cruz (28) and Jorge Soler (27). Sanó walked in 13.4% of his plate appearances, also top ten in the A.L. His .994 OPS outpaced George Springer (.931) and Aaron Judge (.927).

 

Sanó’s incredible finish earned him a contract extension from the Twins that offseason, giving them the option to keep him through 2023.

 

For a streaky, three-true-outcomes slugger like Sanó, a 60-game shortened season can result in one of a few scenarios. He could continue his surge from 2019 and bash all year or he could continue his trend of slow starts, which hurts much more in a limited season.

 

Sanó tested positive for COVID-19 before Opening Day, setting back his schedule and contributing to that oh-so-similar putrid start. Sanó hit just .148/.246/.393 over his first 19 games. The process, though, was encouraging.

 

 

Nelson was right. Sanó hit .277/.346/.628 (.974 OPS) with eight homers and nine doubles over his next 26 games. Him and Nelson Cruz carried what was an otherwise ice cold offense. Sanó’s struggles in his final eight games (.097/.125/.319) was such a large part of the sample that it skewed his numbers. For the most part, he was productive in the bizarre 2020 season.

 

 

So far in this (very early) year, Sanó’s numbers look a lot like they did at the beginning of the last two years. The process, though, is what we need to analyze. He’s chasing balls less than ever, contributing to a 14.8% walk rate, his highest since 2015. He’s seeing the ball well but isn’t making consistent contact.

 

Sanó is primed to mash as soon as his timing clicks. We should be used to the slow starts, however discouraging they look to be. In my humble opinion, the past has shown us that Sanó is setting himself up to produce in a big way again this summer.

 

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i know right? I haven't seen every at bat, but the ones i have seen he seems more disciplined and less susceptible to the wicked slider from the right handers. I too think he will snap out of it. I also heard an in game interview from the dugout with Sano Probus, and Gladden during Spring Training. Sano talked about working with Cruz and Valeria(is that right?) on driving those pitches to the opposite field and making them pay for that. It had become comical to watch him wave endlessly at 2 strike breaking balls. GO TWINS!

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The Twins don't have anybody in the minors that is an immediate threat to overtake Sano at 1B, so really they don't have any choice but to just wait and hope that it's just his annual slow start. Hopefully when the Saints start up they have Kirilloff playing a lot of first base, because that's where I think he'll end up being on the major league roster.

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As a Sano fan, I think patience is warranted. He comes across as a great teammate who really enjoys the game and the success of his teammates. And when things turn, the power can win games all by itself. But I have to admit that even I get dejected with the slow overall progress. I wish the concept of letting the ball get deep and going the other way would finally click at some point. It won’t cut down on the HR rate (much) as he’s so powerful he can reach any fence in any park...and it would help the K’s and the BA so so much. It’s exactly what Cruz does.

 

I also worry that he’s starting to get frustrated himself. The happy-go-lucky, everything’s great, body language that he’s pretty much always been able to maintain seems to be cracking a bit. That would be a shame because one of the best parts about watching Sano is that he always seemed to be having so much fun out there almost no matter what.

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The Twins will stick with him this year through thick and thin.  He has come around before and likely will again.  He has really tried to make sure he is swinging at strikes and has walked more than normal so far.  I just don't understand the complete lack of contact when he does swing.  That is what concerns me the most.  I hope he can relax, have fun and get back to mashing baseballs.  I can give him some more time but right now he is kind of a weak link in lineup. Here's t to hoping he catches fire sooner rather than later.

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The process continues. Sano right now is swinging for hard contact, which is why he's been bashing line drives to the walls, rather than over them. 

 

I've been able to call hot streaks before, by seeing a rash of hard contact. It's harder than average to read Sano because his approach at the plate is pretty unique. What I want to see next from him is a hard drive to opposite field. That will tell me that his timing is pretty close to calibrated. After that, clear the runway. 

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While I read this article, I kinda saw Sano' as a big ship. Like a big ship, it takes longer to turn around but once it turned around nothing can stop him. We have players who can carry him until that happens. I think Cruz sees a little of himself in Sano'. He just needs to mature and be a bit more disciplined like Cruz. Sano' has the tools to be an impact player. We need to see the big picture.

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Everything in the article is based on Sano making contact - which he does not do enough as evidenced by his K% which is during his best at in the mid to high 30% and at worse (like 2020 and 2021 thus far) in the low 40%.

 

Even Whiff Kings with top end power like Mark Reynolds, Steve Balboni and Dave Kingman didn't have such as high K% as Sano.

 

That said, I'm OK with letting Sano play everyday - especially if he hits lower in the lineup - as was quoted above there is no one else better or ready in the system.

 

He is what he is. 

 

He will strike out 4 out of every 10 at-bats, but when he makes contact, he hits the ball hard.

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My hope...and patience with Sano is at an end.  He is who he is and even with the advantage of being able to watch an approach and strategy at the plate like Cruz, he's just not ever going to "get there" in my opinion.  Kiriloff and Larnach profile as much more complete hitters.  I'm hopeful this is Sano's last year with the Twins.  Dangle him to a team that either needs power and/or plays in a power hitter's park and move on.

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I would love to see someone come up and blow Sano away. Wishes and reality are two different things. So far, nobody has even been able to replace Rosario, who arguably had better results than Sano. So I keep wishing. Wishing for Sano to actually become a complete consistent ball player, or for someone to dramatically displace him. In the mean time..... I will see a lot of Ks, this I know for sure.

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 I feel like this article could be written about four times every season.  At some point, we have to realize he is who he is.  Yep...he'll have a couple hot stretches, but for the most part he is strike out prone and over swings, looking for that moon shot homerun - and he doesn't have to.  Would love to see him make the effort to shorten up a little and make more contact...he'd still hit a bunch of home runs.   

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Sano has shown better plate discipline, I've watched him take some nice walks that in the past he would have swung and K'd miserably. I hope he keeps it up, because if he takes enough walks then the pitchers will actually have to throw him better pitches and Sano can do some damage with better pitches.

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AS an O's fan for years too, I see a lot of Chris Davis in Sano.. Last year Davis lost all confidence and was a total mess...despite his power and potential. Maybe Sano will snap out of it...but even then, is he more than a .220 hitter at best. Until he can make contact and not swing 100% of the time for the fences, I am in the corner of those who feel Twins could do better.

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