The Miguel Sano In The Outfield Experiment officially came to an end earlier this month and seemingly everyone was relieved. The original plan was for Sano to go back to playing more at DH, but then Trevor Plouffe broke a rib and was placed on the DL. Sano became the defacto third baseman for the Twins, and has played there almost every game since.
And the results have been troubling.
In the eight games Sano has played at third since Plouffe hit the DL, he’s had seven errors. That’s a lot. For some perspective, consider that in the nine games Sano played at third last year, he had no errors. And those 38 games that Sano spent this year in right field? He only had three errors.
So what gives? Did the Miguel Sano In The Outfield Experiment break Miguel Sano permanently?
The answer is
hopefully probably no. There are a number of reasons that can explain Sano’s troubles and why they might not be as bad as they seem.
First and foremost, Miguel Sano is still transitioning back to playing at third. It would be great if Sano could just move back there and pick up where he left off, but that’s not realistic. MLB players have spring training and rehab assignments after injuries for a reason, people. Playing MLB is a lot of work. Sano hasn’t gotten to work at the position he is now suddenly being forced to play. As Paul Molitor told the Star Tribune, "[Sano’s] done it a lot in our organization, but was not in those [third base drills] in spring training."
Secondly, a lot of the problems with having Miguel Sano in right field did not manifest themselves in the form of official errors. If Sano can’t lumber after a ball fast enough so that he is even anywhere near it when it lands, it can’t be called an error, even if 90% of normal outfielders could have made the play easily. And did you watch Sano out there? He did a lot of lumbering. Also, pulled hammys don’t count as errors either.
Thirdly, Sano played mostly as a DH last year, so when they did throw him out there at third he was fresher. You might say, "Hey, myjah, didn’t you just say one of the possible reasons for Sano’s defensive struggles is that he wasn’t playing third regularly until now?" Yes, I did. The difference is that last year, while Sano did mostly DH, all of his fielding practice was at third. Sano had done very little, it any, fielding practice at third this year during spring training or before games. He was trying to learn right field. Hopefully, with Sano’s focus now on playing third base, things will get better.
Lastly, it’s not like Sano has looked totally lost at third base like he did in right field. He has made some great plays. Like this stuff:
I can live with that stuff.
"He’s made a couple of impressive plays and he’s [missed] a couple that should have been made," Terry Ryan recently told reporters. "He’s got that agility that’s hard to come by. He can make that slow-roller play with the best of them. He’s got a power arm, and now it’s just a [need for] more repetition and consistency, but he can become a very good third baseman."
Although I might not agree with everything Terry Ryan says or does, I tend to agree with that assessment.
What do you think?