Several traditions are unlike any other in Minnesota sports. For the Minnesota Twins, it’s Miguel Sanó promising an offseason that will transform him into the superstar he was projected to be. This weekend, Sanó told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he planned on losing 30 pounds this offseason. It’s easy for Twins fans to feel like they’ve heard this before, but there’s something different this time around.
Sanó has reached a crossroads. If he follows through this time, it could extend his career.
It starts with Sanó’s downfall late in the 2017 season. Months after making his only All-Star appearance, he suffered a stress reaction in his leg. The injury required a steel rod to be inserted, and Sanó struggled the following season. Ultimately, he was sent to Low-A Fort Myers to rebuild his confidence.
The following offseason, Sanó looked to transform himself. After laying low for most of the winter, he reemerged with a vengeance by leading his team to a Dominican Winter League title. But he cut his foot in the celebration and missed the first two months of the 2019 season.
If that injury occurred several years prior, the Twins lineup would have been suffered. But they had a transformation of their own, and Sanó didn’t need to be a superstar to shoulder the load.
Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco emerged as major league hitters, and Nelson Cruz added a reliable presence in the middle of the lineup. With Byron Buxton beginning to break out and a respectable lineup around him, Sanó had the best season of his career with 34 homers in 105 games.
The Twins rewarded him with a three-year extension, but more challenges awaited him in 2020. Sanó contracted COVID during Minnesota’s July training period, and he never settled in. The result was a disappointing season.
Maybe Sanó’s battle with COVID lingered into the offseason and prevented him from a full offseason program. Whatever the cause, Sanó checked in at 274 pounds this season and slumped early on.
But the past two months have shown what Sanó can be when he’s on track. In his final 58 games, Sanó hit .257/.355/.529 with 15 homers. While he’ll never win a batting title, his increased walk rate and slugging percentage could get him back to being the player we saw in 2019. He just has to do it consistently.
While Sanó’s New Year’s Resolution could cause some fans to roll their eyes, it’s not far-fetched that we could see an improved player next year. If he loses the weight and comes in motivated, he could put up similar numbers in a lineup that’s not much different than 2019.