Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci, who also appears on the MLB Network, compared Minnesota Twins sophomore Miguel Sano to Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins and Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers in his latest column on SI.com.
“Sano could be the next Giancarlo Stanton, or he could be the next Puig,” he writes in his Three Strikes column. “The fate of a promising season for the Twins may swing on the answer.”
On the surface, it may seem like you can’t go wrong either way. But Puig is a cautionary tale in this case, where Stanton is the gold standard for young sluggers.
“Sano could be the successor in an amazing recent line of instant impact hitters, tracing from Stanton to Bryce Harper to Mike Trout to Manny Machado to Kris Bryant to Carlos Correa,” he writes, “all of whom hit at least 20 home runs at age 23 or younger in the previous three seasons.”
In contrast, he calls Puig a cautionary tale.
“He looked like one of those transcendent, young impact hitters when he first arrived (batting .407 in his first 34 games, .329 in his first 156), but then he gained weight, broke down, lost focus and has not approached that level since (.262 in his past 175 games),” writes Verducci. “Puig hasn’t figured out a professional approach that serves him well over the grind of a full season. His career monthly batting averages decline without exception from May, bottoming out at .249 in September.”
Sano told Verducci he wants to be one of the best players in Major League Baseball, that he seeks to win a World Series with the Twins and that he believes he can win the Triple Crown.
“I stay healthy,” said Sano, “I feel like I have a chance to be something like the MVP and win the Triple Crown, and I can be on the All-Star team.”
Bold words for a second-year player whose average last season, .269, would not put him in the running for the Triple Crown. But Sano’s bravado appears to be coming from the right place.
“God blessed me with something special,” Sano told Verducci. “Now it’s my responsibility to take care of my family, take care of my teammates and help this team in the playoffs. That’s why I’m talking like this.”[Sports Illustrated]