The offense as a whole has failed to match a surprisingly strong start to the season for the Twins pitching staff. Few hitters have shown any kind of consistency, but it’s plenty easy to key in on right-handed slugger Miguel Sano.
Every year it’s seemingly the same with Sano. Struggle for the first month or two, make some adjustments, iron out the timing at the plate and finish the season looking like everything has been fixed only for the same cycle to be repeated again. Perhaps in a touching tribute to the banning of pitchers hitting in the NL, Sano has been particularly terrible to begin the season in 2022.
Yes, Miguel Sano is yet again approaching the record books after becoming the fastest player in Major League history to 1000 strikeouts at the end of 2021. Through six games it’s been particularly frustrating to watch, which has fans already wondering: What can we do with Miguel Sano?
As is tradition, the calls to cut Miguel Sano or try to send him to AAA have already erupted. The latter scenario is downright unrealistic. Sano would have to essentially be cut and re-signed in agreement with going to St. Paul, a situation that would never play out. Another team would surely pick Sano up on the league minimum, and he would most certainly prefer to play in the MLB elsewhere than in AAA here.
Some would call this an upgrade to the team, but there aren’t any legitimate replacements at first base. Alex Kirilloff is out for the foreseeable future after his recurring wrist issue flared up and players like Jose Miranda who have some experience at first base aren’t the kind of player you ship a veteran out for. Not to mention the fact that the Twins likely would never pay the $9.25m remaining on his deal to play elsewhere.
An adjustment is likely in order for Sano to catch up to fastballs and barrel up breaking balls again. So why not have him work exclusively on making adjustments with the coaching staff in an environment where he’s not dragging down the lineup? Even if the Twins had an obvious short-term replacement at first base, Sano’s main issue is timing. Perhaps it is a mechanical tweak that helps him lock-in, but tee work isn’t going to do him much good.
We saw in 2019 when Sano was struggling to keep his strikeout rate below 40% for the first two months that he benefits from working through his timing issues by getting his reps in during games. There isn’t much substitute for live pitching when it comes to a player with such significant swing and miss tendencies.
Ride It Out
This leads to the most likely option, the Twins are likely going to ride this out. After all, Sano has shown time and time again that their patience will pay itself off. Taking an at-bat away from Miguel Sano is taking him one step further from breaking out and being one of the better hitters in the lineup for at least some period of time. The second halves of his seasons are always better than the first, and at some point, he’s going to return to being a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat.
Is it an ideal scenario to have a player with such crippling gaps in production in the lineup? No. I’d guess the Twins' front office would go back in time and undo the extension they signed Sano to if given the opportunity. It’s also hard to imagine a scenario where they pick up his $14m option for 2023. That being said, Miguel Sano is likely here for 2022 for better or worse.
We’ve been watching him since 2015. It’s time to be realistic about the Miguel Sano situation. He’s going to be beyond frustrating until he’s on one of the most ungodly heaters we’ll see from a player this season. It may hurt the Twins' season tremendously, or perhaps he’ll play a large part in them returning to the postseason. Be as frustrated as you’d like, but Miguel Sano likely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.