Minnesota Twins: Miguel Sano is the first baseman Twins fans deserve

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Minnesota Twins first baseman Miguel Sano bats during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Target Field. (Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports)
Minnesota Twins first baseman Miguel Sano bats during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Target Field. (Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Minnesota Twins fans are a rather mercurial bunch. One minute, they’re in love with the players and the team, cheering as loudly as they can, supporting the team all season. The next minute, they’re ready to burn it all down, trade everyone, fire the whole front office, and have Jim Pohlad’s head on a stake.

When things are good, like they were in the 2019 and 2020 regular seasons, you saw the first group of fans. When things aren’t, like in the postseason of those years and in 2021, you see the second group of fans. It’s a truly vicious cycle full of little-to-no patience. Very few fanbases switch as often as Minnesota fans do.

In fairness, Twins fans have reason to be fickle. After 18 straight playoff losses and a disappointing 2021, the Twins aren’t contenders. If you care about the Vikings, Timberwolves, or Wild, disappointment follows you across all four major men’s sports. Certain players take the brunt of the blame.

You hear the same phrases over and over. Kirk Cousins is a waste of money and stinks. Joe Mauer was a waste of money. KAT can’t lead a team and D-Lo sucks. Zach Parise and Suter were wastes of money. Byron Buxton stinks because he can’t stay healthy. No player is ever good enough. Every coach should be fired. Miguel Sano takes a good deal of that criticism.

Miguel Sano is a good first baseman, and Minnesota Twins fans should accept that.

He constantly is bashed by Twins fans. He’s paid too much. He strikes out all the time. He can’t hit the ball. All he does is hit homers. He’s a terrible defender. With the season down the drain, fans are seeing some value, but these same things are repeated year after year.

It’s time for this narrative to stop. Miguel Sano isn’t a Top 10 first baseman in baseball, but he’s extremely reliable and remarkably consistent. If he’s the best the Twins can do at the position, I think they’re doing pretty alright, especially with a few far more useless veterans on the squad.

Sano’s OPS of .780 is currently 18th among all first basemen, but that’s good enough for 82nd in all of baseball. His 28 homers are are ninth among first basemen, but 34th in the MLB. He’s got 69 RBI (71st in the MLB), 52 walks (58th in the MLB), and his ISO number is 21st in the majors. Miguel Sano has been a Top 75 hitter in all of baseball, and this is in a “down” year.

For the Twins, he’s been a key hitter. He’s second on the team in home runs, walks, and RBI, fourth in slugging, and sixth in OPS. Yes, he doesn’t have a high batting average, but he’s offering good value. His salary may seem high at $11 million, but that’s the 11th-highest number for a first baseman. That’s not bad, and he’ll actually be cheaper in 2022.

Next year, expect more of the same. Roughly 120 games, 25-30 homers, 60-80 RBI, a batting average of .220-.240, and an OPS that’s one of the best on the team. This is really solid production, and if his defense takes another step forward like he did this year, the Minnesota Twins will have another solid year from a good first baseman.

In the movie the Dark Knight, Commissioner Jim Gordon tells his son that Batman is the hero that Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. Sano is the first baseman that the team may not need, but he’s the one that fans deserve, and we would do well to remember this next season.

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