Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Will Miguel Sano Ever Truly Live Up To The Hype He Once Received?

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We’ve all seen those hyped as “the next big thing” come and go. Sometimes the player is able to come reasonably close to reaching the lofty expectations and sometimes they fall completely flat. One example of a much hyped player who the jury is still out on his Miguel Sano, who has shown off the power potential throughout his MLB career but you could argue that he’s never come close to matching the hype.

Is there still hope that he figures it out or has the time come to cut bait and move on? Before answering that, let’s first look at the numbers from 2019:

380 At Bats
.247 Batting Average (94 Hits)
34 Home Runs
79 RBI
76 Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.346 On Base Percentage
.576 Slugging Percentage
.319 Batting Average on Balls in Play

There’s no questioning the power, but one of the biggest issues has been Sano’s inability to stay on the field. Over the past two seasons he’s totaled 646 AB in the Majors and has never had more than 437 AB in a season (or appeared in more than 116 games). That alone is going to limit his upside and requires you to either draft sufficient depth or go scurrying to the wire to try and find it when the inevitable need arises.

While he has real power can we reasonably expect him to maintain last year’s pace? He clearly benefited from the power surge that ran rampant throughout the game, watching his HR/FB rise to 36.6% (compared to a career mark of 26.6%). We aren’t about to call him a 20 HR threat, but the numbers would look a lot different if we were talking about a 30-35 HR campaign over a full season, as opposed to a 50 HR type pace.

A drop in average would have a direct impact on his average, as his lack of speed is going to help to limit his BABIP upside. Despite a 52.7% Hard% (he’s going to carry an elevated Hard%, but this is extreme), he posted a reasonable .319 BABIP due to two key numbers:

  • Fly Balls – 41.9%
  • Oppo% – 15.3%

So he was extremely pull heavy while putting the ball in the air. If some of those fly balls no longer find their way over the fence, as we have already speculated? An already pedestrian BABIP drops even further (think .290-.310) and in turn drags down his average. Maybe he makes an adjustment, most notably in his Oppo%, but we also can’t make that assumption.

Couple that risk with too much swing and miss (15.8% SwStr% in ’19, matching his career mark) and you get the risk of a .230ish hitter. While it’s hard to envision him seeing fewer fastballs than he already is (54.53%), these numbers from last season lead to the possibility (BAA // SLG):

  • Changeups – .227 // .409
  • Sliders – .185 // .446
  • Curveballs – .192 // .346

Unless he’s hitting 50+ HR is this something you want to invest in? Considering he’s unlikely to play enough games to get there, we likely have our answer.

Sano is a better fit for those in OBP formats (12.0% career walk rate). In that type of format we have to alter the outlook, and with the trend around fantasy baseball he does remain on our radar. In “traditional” formats, however? The power is going to keep you interested, but it’s easy to consider him more of a depth option/corner infielder. Power can be found elsewhere, fairly easily, and much of it doesn’t carry the average risk of Sano.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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