Miguel Sano took a step backward after his promising rookie stint. Minnesota struggled to find a position for Sano and made the surprising decision to start him in right field, which may have hindered his plate work. Sano hit just .235 with a .799 OPS in the first two months. After missing most of July with a strained hamstring, Sano moved to third base. He continued to struggle with his health (elbow, back) and finished the season mostly playing DH. Sano's frequent injuries and worsening approach led to demotion talk in August. He increased an already problematic strikeout rate to 36.0 percent last season and drew fewer walks (10.9 percent walk rate compared to 15.8 percent in 2015). Long term, any position other than DH may not be sustainable given his size. Despite his flaws, Sano still draws walks at a strong rate and boasts prodigious power, tools that could help him fulfill his promise and become one of baseball's top home run threats.
Sano went 3-for-4 with a walk, a solo home run and a run-scoring single in Tuesday's 8-1 win over the Rangers. It's his first multi-hit game since April 9. Sano is still striking out too much (32.1 percent K rate), dragging down his batting average, but a career-high 21.4 percent BB rate and massive .333 ISO have led to a robust .258/.417/.591 slash line through 20 games.
Sano has been suspended for one game by MLB after his actions during Saturday's bench-clearing incident with the Tigers, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. However, he's appealing the suspension and is in Monday's lineup against Texas, playing third base and batting third in the order. After Matt Boyd threw a pitch that went behind him, Sano was ejected after he struck Tigers catcher James McCann in the chest protector with a straight right hand as the two argued. Boyd was ejected for intentionally throwing at Sano.
Sano was ejected from Saturday's game against the Tigers, MLB.com's Jason Beck reports. The benches briefly cleared Saturday after Matt Boyd threw behind Sano in the fifth inning. Sano then appeared to push Tigers catcher James McCann, at which point Sano and Boyd were both tossed from the game. It's unclear at this point whether Sano or Boyd will face additional discipline from the league office.
Sano went 1-for-4 with a double, a walk, a run and an RBI during Saturday's win over the White Sox. There is no questioning Sano's power upside, and he's delivering in that regard with four doubles, four home runs and 12 RBI through the first 11 games of the campaign. However, he's also scored 11 runs and sports an impressive .457 on-base percentage. The slugger's 26.1 strikeout percentage is also a significant step in the right direction after posting a 36.0 mark last year. It's likely best to expect some peaks and valleys throughout the season, but Sano is definitely starting 2017 out on the right foot.
Sano is starting at first base and hitting cleanup Friday against the White Sox, the Daily Herald's Scot Gregor reports. Sano has one career at-bat as a first baseman, so this is a notable defensive alignment. The Twins will sit Joe Mauer while maximizing their defense on the left side of the infield by giving Eduardo Escobar the start at third base. Third base is arguably just as deep as first base these days, so if Sano can add eligibility at first base this season, his value would see a slight bump.
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