Since June 28, Miguel Sano Has Made Doubters Look Stupid

Aug 5, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins pinch hitter Miguel Sano (22) celebrates with teammates after hitting a walk off homerun in the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY Sports

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When Miguel Sano helped his Estrellas Orientales team win the Dominican Winter League Championship for the first time in 51 years on January 23rd, I doubt he realized that the victory would end up costing him all of Spring Training with the Minnesota Twins, the first month of the regular season, and a lot of trust within the faithful fanbase.

He finally joined the Twins lineup in the middle of May, but that only worsened his standing. By the end of June, even his bloated OPS couldn’t save him from the mob that wanted him out of Minneapolis ASAP. For the record, I was not part of that mob. He was frustrating the hell out of everyone who continued defending him, however. I was definitely included in that group.

Look at these numbers up to June 27th…

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He either struck out or he hit a homerun. How you have a .761 OPS with a BA under .200 is beyond me but he was doing it.

Looking back on it though, his issues at the dish seemed to have a lot to do with timing. He was behind fastballs that weren’t very fast and looked baffled at good outside sliders. He’s had issues with well-placed sliders his entire career but the fastball thing was odd. It but makes a lot more sense when you remember that he hadn’t played baseball since the end of January, though. That means no Spring Training. So really, the timing issue made sense.

It’s a lot easier to look back now though and feel that way because Miguel Sano, since hitting rock bottom (AVG-wise) on June 27, has gone full-grown MONSTER on opposing pitchers, again returning to one of the most feared hitters in the American League. That’s in a lineup that the entire MLB is afraid of.

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We thought the success of this season would ride on Sano and Buxton’s development but it hasn’t. The blossoming of Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, and Eddie Rosario; along with the cat-like landing of Nelson Cruz and CJ Cron in Minneapolis, have made for an unfathomable 2019 season.

But, that doesn’t mean it’s been a disappointing year so far, for either of our two main building blocks. Outside of injuries, both have performed above expectations. If you take away the heel injury and assume Sano got off to a slow start because of missing Spring Training, then we can also safely assume that, with a Spring Training, he would have started play at a caliber that is much closer to where he’s at now.

And Byron Buxton is doing everything we had hoped for, other than staying healthy. His stats speak for themselves but so do his injuries. He’s played in just 82 of 113 games (before today) and is set to miss another 2-ish weeks before he returns from his latest injury.

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Sano’s injury issues have been a little more freak-like than Buxton, who just keeps using outfield walls as tackling dummies who just ripped on his mom. Hopefully we can keep him away from crowded metal stairs as much as possible, and if so, he should be around for the long-haul.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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