The Minnesota Twins have seen positive results since bringing Sano back to the major league lineup after his stint in the minors.
The Minnesota Twins have had to navigate strange waters with their two most highly regarded former prospects. The road still seems unclear in many ways for Byron Buxton as he still struggles with a wrist injury and to find his rhythm at the plate. Thankfully, since being sent to rehabilitate his approach at the plate and fitness level, Miguel Sano appears to be back to his hitting ways.
Sano experienced one of the most humbling journey’s of any pro athlete. In a year’s time he went from challenging Aaron Judge in the Home Run Derby as an American League All-Star to hitting barely .200 and being sent out to Single-A. Whether it was the serving of humble pie or the work put in and the weight loss, Sano is building towards being the contributor he needed to be in 2018 in 2019.
Before the Twins took the drastic measure to demote Sano, he was hitting .203/.370/.405, a .675 OPS, nine doubles and seven home runs. We can try to make a ton of excuses for Sano on why he was performing poorly. The reality is he didn’t look like a major league baseball player for large stretches to begin 2019 and something needed to change.
In 11 games since returning to the Twins on July 28th Sano is hitting a much better .278/.381/.472 with an .853 OPS. Sano also came up big to tie the game with his first home run since returning in the top of the 9th inning while facing the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night. That home run and four doubles gives Sano five extra-base hits since returning to the Twins lineup.
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Sano is still striking out a lot. In those 11 games he has played, he has struck out 16 times and walked only six times. With 42 plate appearances that puts Sano at right around a 38% strikeout rate. That is noticeably down from where it was before his stint at Single-A and while it would be nice to see it come down more. He can function as a major leaguer around that rate. He finished 2018 with a 35.8% strikeout percentage which should be the bare minimum goal.
As long as the contact that Sano makes continues to produce the results it has been. Which could be a big if moving forward as these 11 games represent a pretty small sample size. Opposing pitchers will start to see the changes Sano has made at the plate and begin adjusting to that. If Sano can make his own adjustments and continue to have success that will be a very positive sign that he may have made the adjustments needed to again anchor the Twins lineup for the future.
While many of the Twins free agent signings didn’t pan out the way we had all hoped. This season’s failure doesn’t rest on their shoulders. If blame is going to be cast anywhere it has to be with core players like Sano and their failure to produce this season. If the Twins want to rebound in 2019, they need All-Star Sano and not exiled Sano.