When Miguel Sano first arrived in the big leagues in 2015 I thought he could become the next Miguel Cabrera.
Fast forward only a few years from that sensational debut and it looks clear that he’s not that. Watch him take batting practice before any game, and he’s still got that crazy pop. But at 25 years old, we’re now questioning what once looked like a foregone conclusion: Will Migeul Sano become a Major League star?
Back in 2015, Sano was a 22-year-old who got the call in late summer and took the lineup by storm. Almost instantly, he was the most feared hitter that the Twins employed. He mashed his way to .269/.385/.530 with 18 home runs in 335 plate appearances mostly as a DH, since the Twins already had third baseman Trevor Plouffe plugged in at the position. Sure, Sano struck out in more than 35% of his plate appearances, but you could excuse that because of all the power and the strong walk rate of nearly 16%. Sano was getting on base, he was taking close pitches, and his mighty swing did an awful lot of damage on the pitches he liked.
It was the combination of power and patience — his disciplined approach and what seemed like an elite ability to recognize pitches — that had me thinking Sano was sure to be a superstar.
It’s not too late for him to still become that player. It looks to me like the talent is there. It’s just that time and circumstance have started to work against the now-25-year-old.
At the time of this writing, Sano is hitting .208/.277/.417 with plenty of checked swings and strikeouts, a lower power output than we’ve come to expect, and over the weekend was dropped to 7th in an injury-depleted Twins lineup.
ESPN recently published a column by David Schoenfield that listed 10 players who are “running out of time to become stars.” Sano was third on that list, right next to his teammate, Byron Buxton. The centerfielder is currently on the disabled list with a broken toe, and that’s another column for another day.