GRAND RAPIDS — I know, I know, I know. But look what happened to David Ortiz after we got rid of him, he became a Hall of Fame player. That’s the argument, that’s the reasoning behind not trading Miguel Sano. Maybe it’s because of the similarity in size, the fact that they both played first base, I don’t know. The Twins will be forever haunted by the Ortiz deal; so much so, that I believe they are afraid to pull the trigger on a Sano trade.
I think they should.
Yes, he hits the ball out once in a while. Yes, his exit velocity is one of the best in the league (for whatever that’s worth.) I would hope his exit velocity is up there. I mean he’s about 6”5”, weighs close to 300 pounds and swings as hard as he can each swing. He should have a high exit velocity number. Every once in a while, he connects with a meatball thrown down the middle of the plate and crushes it. Twins have his weight at 260. No way. Aaron Judge is close to 290. I used to weigh 260; I’d look tiny next to Sano. A guy that big and strong should pound the ball. And he does – once in a while.
And therein lies the difference between Sano and Ortiz.
Ortiz hit the ball. He didn’t just hit home runs. Eight times in his career he hit over .300; in 2007 he batted .332 for the year. In a 20-year career, Ortiz averaged .286. Look at it this way, in Ortiz’s worst season he hit a meager .234, a half dozen points lower than Sano’s career average.
In 20 years, Ortiz struck out 1,750 times in 8,640 at bats; he struck out 20% of the time. Sano? This year he has whiffed 65 times in 137 at bats – a 47% clip, tops in the Majors. He’s been in the Twins organization for a dozen years; his career strikeout rate is just about where it’s at now – 46.2%. He’s not getting any better.
If you looked at his numbers from a 162-game average standpoint, he averages 249 whiffs a season. Compare that to baseball’s all time strikeout king Reggie Jackson. Jackson averaged 149 strikeouts per 162 games 100 less than Sano! If Sano stays healthy, he will obliterate the all-time major league strikeout record.
He’s a liability on the basepaths.
Last year he was the worst fielding third baseman in baseball. With the arrival of Josh Donaldson at third, Sano moved to first where he doesn’t seem to be too much better. If he’s not spinning around in circles trying to catch a pop fly, he’s crashing into teammates. His range is limited.
He can’t hit, he can’t run, and he can’t field. Is the hope that every once in a while, he might hit one out of the park a good enough reason to keep him? Does the excitement of watching one of his bombs hit the upper deck make up for the agony of watching the preceding 10 whiffs?
On top of the on-the-field struggles, his off-the-field problems must cause the Twins braintrust headaches. One year it was an alleged sexual assault charge. One year there was a traffic incident where he was detained after allegedly running over a cop, leaving the cop with a broken leg. One year he missed out on part of spring training because he cut his foot while celebrating his team’s victory in the Dominican Winter League championship. This year there was the assault and kidnapping allegations. Trouble seems to follow him around.
Is hitting 35 home runs per year while striking out 250 times a season good enough? Are you satisfied with that? I know he’s one of those special guys who is a home run threat every at bat. Is that enough?
I don’t know. I think we’d do fine without him. Today the top eight teams in baseball have one thing in common. They are also the top eight teams in team ERA. Pitching has always been the name of the game. Only one of the top eight teams, the Chicago White Sox, is in the top eight in hitting. Most of the best hitting teams are the cellar dwellers. Let’s go pitcher shopping.
We seem to have a few young players who could replace “the Big Whiff.” Rookie Brent Rooker hits the ball with authority. While playing for Mississippi State, Rooker was labeled by Baseball America as “the most dangerous hitter in college baseball.” He strikes out some, but with a 28% strikeout rate, he’s much lower than Sano. He’s playing in the outfield now for the injured Max Kepler, but was a first baseman in the minors.
Ryan Jeffers, Lamonte Wade Jr , Rooker and a healthy Byron Buxton will make us forget all about Miguel. Sano is excellent trade bait. The Twins pitching staff could use another solid starter.
And, five, 10 years from now, I don’t believe anyone will be comparing Sano with Ortiz. He is what he is – a strikeout factory who hits one out of the park once in a while. No Hall of Fame in his future.
One last note. The Timberwolves got rid of their No. 22, Andrew Wiggins, and became a much better team. Wiggins could score and many fans loved him for his scoring ability. He was going to be the next big deal, the next super star. But that was it; he couldn’t play defense, he didn’t rebound. He just scored. Just like the Twins No. 22. He’ll hit a bomb once in a while. He doesn’t do much else. Get rid of him; we’ll be a much better team.