by Ray Kuhn
On an individual level, power is reaching heights we haven’t seen in some time. Last season 118 players eclipsed the 20 home run mark, and one of them was Miguel Sano.
Power never has been an issue for Sano, every thing else has been. In 437 AB last season he battled hamstring, back, elbow and other assorted health issues, though the slugger hit 25 home runs while driving in 66 runs. Aside from the injury issues, it was far from a perfect campaign as he struggled to find a position and showed an inability to make contact.
Neither should have taken anyone by surprise, and that will continue to be the case. Last season he spent 42 games at third base and 38 in the outfield, and he will open the season as Minnesota’s third baseman. From a real life perspective that might not be the best place for Sano as he struggled there last season, but he isn’t the best outfielder either.
It is clear that Sano is around for his bat… At least his power bat.
Sano made his debut with the Twins in 2015 and he hit a respectable .269 in 335 AB with 18 HR and 52 RBI. Contact was an issue, 63%, as he benefited from a .396 BABIP. The power was clearly on display as he had a 122 Hard Contact Rate to go along with a 188 Power Index. That power was legitimate, with an expected Power Index was 175. That production carried through to last season despite a slight dip in his Power Index (173/157). Based on the health issues, along with the production, I would not be concerned as Sano’s power is not going anywhere.
Since you are drafting him for his power, there is a true 35 to 40 HR upside here, I wouldn’t be too concerned about his drop in batting average. Last season Sano hit .236 as his BABIP came back down to earth, .329, but was still slightly above league average. Once again, contact was the issue as it only happened for him 59% of the time. That is what will keep his batting average down and ensure it doesn’t climb north of .250 (at best).
Despite his defensive struggles, Sano will likely be in Minnesota’s lineup on most days as long as he is healthy, though it wouldn’t surprise me if he loses some AB late in games due to his defense.
As the draft progresses, it will be easier to make up a few HR than survive the potential hit Sano will inflict on your batting average. He will also not come cheap based on his current ADP of 116, which means you will have to select him in the 8th round. Currently he is the 25th outfielder and 13th third baseman coming off the board. Considering he is really just a two category contributor, and a batting average liability, that is just too early. If we are talking about five rounds later, than perhaps my thought process would change.
Source – Baseball HQ
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