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Where Does Miguel Sano Rank on the Twins Disappointment Scale?


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Miguel Sano has likely played his last game in Minnesota, which leaves behind a cloudy Twins legacy. Is he the biggest disappointment of the last 30 years?

Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Miguel Sano has been a member of the Twins organization since he was a teenager. Minnesota declined his option earlier this week, meaning he will be a free agent for the first time in his career. Sano has been a polarizing figure throughout his Twins' tenure for various reasons. That being said, he is far from being the biggest disappointment of the last three decades. 

Over at Bring Me the News, the site attempted to rank the biggest disappointments since the Twins' last World Series title in 1991. For a franchise that has lost 18-straight playoff games, there is plenty of blame to go around. Failed top prospects made the list, like Tyler Jay, Kohl Stewart, and Adam Johnson, along with signings like Byung-Ho Park, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, and Josh Donaldson. Frustrations followed many of these players, but none of them had an impact quite like Miguel Sano. 

Sano dominated the minor leagues on the way to making his big-league debut. In 504 games in the minors, he posted a .938 OPS with some dominant home run totals. In 2011, he hit 20 home runs in 66 games for Elizabethton. Over the next two seasons, he averaged more than 30 homers per year as he climbed up to Double-A. All three national top-100 lists had him in their top-15 prospects entering the 2014 season, but he missed that entire season with Tommy John surgery. Expectations were high, and he began to fulfill those lofty projections in 2015. 

During his rookie season, Sano hit .269/.385/.530 (.916) with 17 doubles and 18 home runs in 80 games. At the season's end, he finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor. Over the next two seasons, he settled into a big-league role by averaging 26 home runs per season with a 117 OPS+. Sano became a first-time All-Star in 2017 and finished runner-up in the Home Run Derby. It looked like a solid start to his career. 

Sano had up-and-down moments over the next five seasons. He hit 30 or more home runs in two seasons and had a 116 OPS+ for his career. Since the franchise moved to Minnesota, only Harmon Killebrew and Justin Morneau have a higher slugging percentage. His average exit velocity and max exit velocity routinely ranked among baseball's sixth percentile or higher. Few players in Twins history have slugged the ball like Sano. 

Fans are going to remember some of the lows throughout Sano's career. During the 2018 season, Sano struggled so much that the organization sent him to Fort Myers to rebuild his swing. If that wasn't the low point in his career, the 2022 season added to fan frustration. His final Twins season saw him go 5-for-60 (.083 BA) with 25 strikeouts. Recency bias means that his 2022 failures are the likely memory that will stick with fans long-term. 

Sano didn't develop into the next Miguel Cabrera, but that doesn't mean his Twins tenure was a total loss. Players of his skill set are limited in the value they can provide. He was never going to provide a lot of value on the defensive side of the ball, so he needed to be above average at the plate. His powerful swing produced mammoth home runs, and there were moments in nearly every season where he was the hottest-hitting bat in the Twins line-up. 

Did he fulfill his projections as one of baseball's top-10 prospects? No, but sustained success at the big-league level is challenging for many players. Sano still has a powerful swing that can help a team to win games, especially with the addition of the designated hitter in the National League. His career is far from over, and there have been far more disappointing players over the last three decades. 

Were you disappointed with Sano's Twins' tenure? Have other players been more disappointing over the last thirty years? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.


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Sano is a true 3 outcome player. Everyone loved him when he was hot. Because he was always the hottest hitter when he was hot. But more often than not, we had the COLD Sano. Could buy a hit, let alone make contact with the ball. Opposing teams knew that. If he was cold, they throw everything at him and he would miss. 

Honestly, If he does come back, I think it should be on a minor league pact where he has opt outs at various points in the season. 

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His bat speed lessened. His discipline was never what it might have been. Paul Molitor had him figured out. He said that Sano and his agent (Rob Plummer, who has his own problems) decided that he had made it and he could relax and live the dream. Molitor suggested that attitude would be his undoing. The Twins would be better off if Molitor was still managing the team, but that's an argument for another day. In this instance, the man was a prophet. Sano's career isn't over. Maybe this wakeup call will give him some motivation. I wish him luck. 

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Simple answer - YES.  And that is an historic Yes.  We have been led on by the Sano story, the video, the minor league stats, the rookie break-out and then the crash.  The First round draft busts never got to a point that they truly disappointed - except to make the FO look bad.  Nishioka was so bad that the expectations flagged as soon as he took the field - once again it was the FO.  

Donaldson did what he also had done, the fact that his attitude is a cancer is something the FO should have been aware of. 

But Sano seems like he is uncoachable.  He regressed.  Not being a three true outcome guy I was disappointed in the lack of plate discipline.  The stupid statcast mph and distance measurements mesmerized him and no one seemed to be able to tell him that a HR counts the same no matter how hard or far it went.  Nor did he understand that with players on base and the team needing a run that a hit of any kind might work and maybe with two strikes it might be a change of strategy by the batter.

So yes in a big and loud way, I am very disappointed. 

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A player with a ton of talent that couldn't adjust. Can't say how many times I heard others make the remark that if he wouldn't swing so hard at every pitch and would just concentrate on making contact he'd become a much better hitter. Don't know for sure but wonder if the Twins wanted him or enticed him to be an all or nothing type of hitter. My guess is he'll get picked up by some other team and mash 40+ HR's for them. Even so, I don't want to see him in the Twins lineup anymore. Now they just need to get rid of the other two failures in Kepler and Buxton. If Sano was hole #1 in the lineup then Kepler is hole #2. I know I will catch some crap for this but Buxton can't stay on the field and this past year has become an all or nothing type of hitter just like Sano was. All 3 are/were over-rated IMO. 

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I am not sure how much of a "bust" Sano truly is.  He has had a modicum of success, and will continue to have opportunities for the next few years.  I think we as fans view him as a bust because we had these huge expectations that he didn't meet.

IMO, the biggest Twins draft busts are:

Adam Johnson - drafted too high (full disclosure, I was at his one home start, so I may be a bit jaded).

Kohl Stewart - was supposed to be a ready made starter.

BJ Garbe - #5 pick, never made it past AA

Honorable mentions:
Tim Belcher - #1 pick, didn't sign, went on to have a strong career
Travis Lee - #2 pick, Twins didn't sign him, another good career

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2 hours ago, Thebigalguy said:

His bat speed lessened. His discipline was never what it might have been. Paul Molitor had him figured out. He said that Sano and his agent (Rob Plummer, who has his own problems) decided that he had made it and he could relax and live the dream. Molitor suggested that attitude would be his undoing. The Twins would be better off if Molitor was still managing the team, but that's an argument for another day. In this instance, the man was a prophet. Sano's career isn't over. Maybe this wakeup call will give him some motivation. I wish him luck. 

Molitor babied him , it was written in  the Tribune, he felt bad that Sano had to stay in lessor motels, play in lessor ball parks, ride busses when he sent him down.

THAT is what Sano needed more often.

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Since sano is fresh in everyone's memory  , it is definitely  a YES he was a disappointment  ,,,

Either there was nothing between the ears as he spiraled downwards in hitting and never fully adjusted , getting demoted back to fort Myers  was the biggest degrace a player could receive ...

Maybe molitor was right  , most likely he was , I'm sure he seen alot of player's in his time do the same thing and ended up a bust ...

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2 hours ago, Thebigalguy said:

His bat speed lessened. His discipline was never what it might have been. Paul Molitor had him figured out. He said that Sano and his agent (Rob Plummer, who has his own problems) decided that he had made it and he could relax and live the dream. Molitor suggested that attitude would be his undoing. The Twins would be better off if Molitor was still managing the team, but that's an argument for another day. In this instance, the man was a prophet. Sano's career isn't over. Maybe this wakeup call will give him some motivation. I wish him luck. 

Bingo. It was likely a mix of the injuries he suffered (titanium rod in his leg) and getting too comfortable that resulted in his downfall the last 3 seasons. Earlier in his career he could not resist the low and outside slider. Now it’s a much bigger issue… he can’t catch up to fastballs in the zone. 

His MLB career may not be over, but it is certainly on life support. A well below average fielding 1B who can hit .210 with 30+ HRs is not special enough to keep on the 26 man roster for long. It’s unfortunate that his career is trending like Chris Carter. Ironically, Sano and Carter are the top comparison on B-Ref’s similarity scores. 

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He is only a disappointment because he never reached the heights we all expected.  He started out hot, and we expected him to grow from there.  The issue was he never adjusted, did not take his career all that serious, and slowly became a disappointment.  

I feel we could have treated him better, the RF experiment was a waste for him.  Every time we expected a breakout he would have a huge slump.  He just never learned to drive the ball the other way, like Carerra was amazing at.  He had the power to crush the outside pitch over the wall, but always tried to pull everything.  

He became the ultimate 3 out come guy, and personally, they bore me as players. 

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6 hours ago, Thebigalguy said:

His bat speed lessened. His discipline was never what it might have been. Paul Molitor had him figured out. He said that Sano and his agent (Rob Plummer, who has his own problems) decided that he had made it and he could relax and live the dream. Molitor suggested that attitude would be his undoing. The Twins would be better off if Molitor was still managing the team, but that's an argument for another day. In this instance, the man was a prophet. Sano's career isn't over. Maybe this wakeup call will give him some motivation. I wish him luck. 

Molitor's take is interesting and it does seem to make sense to someone looking from the outside in.  Perhaps it will be the wakeup call he needs.  I certainly hope so because it would be a shame if this is all he ever does in his career.  He has TREMENDOUS power AT TIMES and can hit the snot out of the ball.... at times, when he does manage to make connect.  However, he has very very long droughts of nothing where he just seems to completely disappear as a hitter coupled with infuriating strikeout totals, which is why his option wasn't picked up.

I'm just as frustrated with his career trajectory as are many others, because it's yet another hole the Twins need to fill in the lineup, but as many others have pointed out it appeared to be a prevailing sentiment here of "how dare you criticize his approach, his conditioning, his strikeouts," etc., etc.  We'll this is where we are now.  Hopefully he resurrects his career in the minors be it with the Twins or some other team.          

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I think he seems like this huge disappointment because his minor league career and rookie year caused us to get overly excited. I do not think someone that has had a career like his can be called a bust when compared to top draft picks that never made it at all. But the question is biggest disappointment not bust. Disappointment is more about our feelings changing and in this case, it is a big disappointment because we were excited! That Grand Slam in Cleveland? The potential was so there! Sano had his moments and yet he just never fully got to that consistent success we all could see was potentially in there. Yeah, VERY disappointing but I still enjoyed the ride. Biggest disappointment? I'm not sure I'm that far with it...

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6 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

But Sano seems like he is uncoachable.  He regressed.  Not being a three true outcome guy I was disappointed in the lack of plate discipline.  The stupid statcast mph and distance measurements mesmerized him and no one seemed to be able to tell him that a HR counts the same no matter how hard or far it went.  Nor did he understand that with players on base and the team needing a run that a hit of any kind might work and maybe with two strikes it might be a change of strategy by the batter.

So yes in a big and loud way, I am very disappointed. 

It certainly seems that way.  I was never impressed with his approach or lack thereof at the plate.  When he was on he was great and i cheered for him, but his inability to work through the droughts, minimize the damage, and the strikeouts was just maddening to watch.  Towards the end he did try to take more walks and succeeded a bit on that, but the competition had him figured out a couple of years ago. 

Down and away is his Achilles heel, and he just can't resist swinging away at sliders and balls bouncing 3 ft. in front of home plate.  We saw it over and over again, the last two years.  Very, very frustrating.  I guess this is a lesson to everyone, that not everybody that can club it 400 + ft. is gonna develop into a good all around hitter.  Perhaps he can find a new role as a designated hitter full-time and flourish there, but he's gotta work on his eye at the plate (assuming he's motivated to do so).

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Sano came from a small town in the DR and signed with an MLB team in a foreign country. He finished 3rd in the Rookie of the Year vote. He was an All-Star and participated in the HR Derby. He hit 25 or more homers FOUR TIMES in his seven years with the team. He wasn't the best fielder but he did make some highlight-reel defensive plays at 3rd base, including a couple memorable triple plays. Speaking of memorable, his grand slam on the road in Cleveland was one of the biggest hits by any Twin in 2019. He learned a 2nd language and became bilingual.

To see a headline that says "How Big of a Bust is Sano?" is frankly just low-brow clickbait in my opinion. If his career ended today, he'd still have an above-average career better than most guys who make The Show. Any Twins fan who thinks Sano's career has been a "bust" needs to have their head examined and start learning to adjust their expectations in life. 

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Sano is certainly not a bust: he was 3rd in RoY, made an all-star team, and had some fine seasons with the team. Even with the rough years, he's leaving the Twins with an OPS+ of 116 (which this season would have tied him for 6th with Jose Miranda, 1 pt behind Jorge Polanco). He had big, impactful years in 2015, 2017, and 2019 (and wasn't bad in 2021 either, with a terrific second half of the season). 

he couldn't do it consistently year over year, and had some stretches where he was basically in an unplayable slump. The gazillion Ks drove some people crazy, and the injuries started piling up too, reducing his availability and his impact.

I think it's fair to say his overall career with the Twins was a disappointment, but only in the context of how great it could have been. We saw enough of the heights to wish it could have been like that every year for at least 4-6 seasons. instead it was every other year at best.

Under no circumstances was he a bust; he made it to the majors, he had success in the majors, and when he was rolling it seemed like he carried the club for a month with his bat. It's not his fault the front office & manager threw him out in the OF for 1/3 of his appearances in 2016 (indefensible then and now), and he was certainly more impactful than many other highly touted prospects (Adam Johnson, Tyler Jay, Kohl Stewart, Levi Michael, Matt Moses...those are busts).

Moving on from Sano is the right decision. but we still got good value out of him while he was here (at $8M per bWAR he far out-performed the amount we paid him). It's too bad that the highs weren't sustainable, but so be it.

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5 hours ago, Vanimal46 said:

Bingo. It was likely a mix of the injuries he suffered (titanium rod in his leg) and getting too comfortable that resulted in his downfall the last 3 seasons. Earlier in his career he could not resist the low and outside slider. Now it’s a much bigger issue… he can’t catch up to fastballs in the zone. 

His MLB career may not be over, but it is certainly on life support. A well below average fielding 1B who can hit .210 with 30+ HRs is not special enough to keep on the 26 man roster for long. It’s unfortunate that his career is trending like Chris Carter. Ironically, Sano and Carter are the top comparison on B-Ref’s similarity scores. 

I find it funny that Chris Carter's photo on BB Ref has him in a Twins hat even though he played zero regular season games for the Twins. I guess the Twins signed him in May 2018 from the Angels for cash. 

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I'd have to add David McCarty to the biggest disappointment discussion.  Taken 3rd overall in the '91 draft, he was a "can't miss" college bat that would carry the Twins into the 2000's.  As a teen, I couldn't wait for him to get to get to the big club...man did he miss...a lot!

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3 hours ago, goulik said:

That Grand Slam in Cleveland?

I feel bad for Twins fans but even more so for Sano that his potential was only intermittently realized during his tenure with our favorite team. And I agree that the question asked at the top of the opening post is a bit out of line. Kind of like filling out a customer satisfaction survey that asks, "How disappointed were you in your experience with us today?" So I wanted to include a video of this high point in his career. For me this was the moment when the Twins locked up the AL Central in 2019. And based on pitcher Nick Goody's reaction I think the same was true for him. And Terry Francona too.

 

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14 hours ago, bighat said:

Sano came from a small town in the DR and signed with an MLB team in a foreign country. He finished 3rd in the Rookie of the Year vote. He was an All-Star and participated in the HR Derby. He hit 25 or more homers FOUR TIMES in his seven years with the team. He wasn't the best fielder but he did make some highlight-reel defensive plays at 3rd base, including a couple memorable triple plays. Speaking of memorable, his grand slam on the road in Cleveland was one of the biggest hits by any Twin in 2019. He learned a 2nd language and became bilingual.

To see a headline that says "How Big of a Bust is Sano?" is frankly just low-brow clickbait in my opinion. If his career ended today, he'd still have an above-average career better than most guys who make The Show. Any Twins fan who thinks Sano's career has been a "bust" needs to have their head examined and start learning to adjust their expectations in life. 

 It's not low brow clickbait.  I don't care that he's from the DR, and i don't care that he learned a second language which is his choice.  He is not an above average hitter with the amount of strikeouts he's recorded and lack of eye at the plate aside from the homeruns.   He has continuously flirted with the mendoza line the last 4 seasons and he was the fastest player in MLB history to 1,000 strikeouts.  The guy he passed up Mark Reynolds who did it in game 747 in his career and Sano beat him by 86 games.  He's also a very poor fielder at 3rd and at 1st.

Sorry but he's a total bust.  

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14 hours ago, jmlease1 said:

Sano is certainly not a bust: he was 3rd in RoY, made an all-star team, and had some fine seasons with the team. Even with the rough years, he's leaving the Twins with an OPS+ of 116 (which this season would have tied him for 6th with Jose Miranda, 1 pt behind Jorge Polanco). He had big, impactful years in 2015, 2017, and 2019 (and wasn't bad in 2021 either, with a terrific second half of the season). 

he couldn't do it consistently year over year, and had some stretches where he was basically in an unplayable slump. The gazillion Ks drove some people crazy, and the injuries started piling up too, reducing his availability and his impact.

I think it's fair to say his overall career with the Twins was a disappointment, but only in the context of how great it could have been. We saw enough of the heights to wish it could have been like that every year for at least 4-6 seasons. instead it was every other year at best.

 

He had one really good year (2017) and 2 average seasons (2016, & 2019).  Five seasons he was terrible.  

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1 hour ago, laloesch said:

 I don't care that he's from the DR, and i don't care that he learned a second language which is his choice.  

 

I'd recommend watching "Ballplayer" (or "Pelotero"), which is a 2011 documentary which discusses the situation in the DR and the challenges young players there face. Sano specifically is a focus on the doc. 

 

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On 11/14/2022 at 9:45 AM, Fire Dan Gladden said:

I am not sure how much of a "bust" Sano truly is.  He has had a modicum of success, and will continue to have opportunities for the next few years.  I think we as fans view him as a bust because we had these huge expectations that he didn't meet.

IMO, the biggest Twins draft busts are:

Adam Johnson - drafted too high (full disclosure, I was at his one home start, so I may be a bit jaded).

Kohl Stewart - was supposed to be a ready made starter.

BJ Garbe - #5 pick, never made it past AA

Honorable mentions:
Tim Belcher - #1 pick, didn't sign, went on to have a strong career
Travis Lee - #2 pick, Twins didn't sign him, another good career

Agreed completely. Sano pretty much nailed the mid-point on the distribution of outcomes for someone of his prospect pedigree at roughly 2 WAR per 600 PAs.

That means he was essentially an average-ish MLBer during his tenure. 

To call him a bust indicated a misunderstanding of the potential for prospects. 

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