Miguel Sano has gone from being a cornerstone of the Twins future to simply being another power bat who hits in the lower half of the order in a matter of just a few years. His career has been filled with flashes of stardom overshadowed by injuries and health issues, plus battles with his weight. Coming into 2019 it was seen as a make or break season for Sano, but then he got hurt before Spring Training and ended up missing more than a month to start the season. Now he has returned with something to prove and we will see how he has fared through his first month.
With a slash line of .240/.326/.573 Sano holds an OPS of .899 which would rank 13th in the AL if he was qualified. Among AL third basemen he ranks third behind Hunter Dozier and Alex Bregman. His weighted on base average (wOBA) which measures a players overall value when getting on base and how they do it is at .367 which is above average for sure.
His Isolated Power (slugging minus average) is at a career high .333 and ranks second in the AL. He also has a nice 130 wRC+ which evaluates a players effectiveness to drive in runs where 100 is average so Sano is doing very well.
Of course there are some negatives to Sano’s game and I’m sure you all know where I’m going with this. He is striking out 36% of the time but maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. While he strikes out a lot he makes up for it with good contact and walks in his non-strikeout appearances. He has a career high in hard hit% (53.3%) and a good fly ball% (44.4%). Fly balls and line drives are important for every player in today’s game. This next graph is just something I love to look at for any player. This shows Sano’s wRC+ when he hits the ball on the ground and it is almost always an inverse of each other on the graph. This works for most players and it is no coincidence that the Twins have the best offense in baseball while also hitting the least ground balls.
To stay on the strikeouts, Miguel is on his regular career pace, but he is swinging more than he ever has. He is swinging at 50.8% of pitches for the first time when he has never even eclipsed 50% any other year. Of course this has a bit of a downside because he is swinging at a career high 32.5% of pitches outside the strike zone but that is just 2% more than last year. The upside is that he is swinging at more pitches in the strike zone, he has less swinging strikes, and he is hitting the ball harder than he ever has.
Here are two zone charts showing his swing% from 2018 (left) versus his swing% this year (right)
He is going after the pitches in the zone and just needs to focus on laying off the ones that come low and inside to him where he swings 49% of the time.
To go back to what I said earlier about him hitting the ball harder, here is the proof. In all of baseball he ranks 32nd for exit velocity at 91.8, for barrel% he ranks 2nd at 14.9% and then in hard hit% he ranks in a tie for first with Joey Gallo at 57.4%. To put it simply, Miguel Sano rakes.
Overall, Miguel Sano is fun to watch and for those of you who want to trade him for a reliever, stop it.