Mashing Baseballs? Sano Problem!

Nick Bucher covers all of Saturday's most interesting hitters.

The Minnesota Twins offense has been an absolute juggernaut. With a lineup loaded with guys like Nelson Cruz and Max Kepler, it’s easy to overlook the bottom few batters for the Twin cities, even with Josh Donaldson out of the lineup. However, on Saturday night, the offense was carried by none other than Miguel Sano (1B/3B Minnesota Twins).

Sano came into last night’s game mired in a rough start to 2020, batting just .059. The behemoth of a hitter had just a single hit and hadn’t barreled up a single ball. Sure the sample size was small, but the entire season is going to be a small sample size, and Sano wasn’t looking great. After all, what good hitter has this much blue in his profile? Sano not only was struggling, but he was also in the worst one-percentile of hitters thus far in xwOBA.

 

Naturally, a matchup with an All-Star pitcher like Carlos Carrasco was just what the doctor ordered for Sano to beast out with a two-homer game. The 27-year-old launched a solo homer in each of the third and fifth innings, and both were absolutely tattoed, leaving Sano’s bat with exit velocities over 110 mph each time. Immediately, Sano looked just like the tower of power that belted 34 homers across just 105 games last season.

Moving forward, Sano will continue to hide out in the bottom-third of the Twins lineup, but that shouldn’t deter fantasy managers from plugging him into their lineups. Minnesota figures to turn the lineup over as much as any team in baseball, and if Sano has just begun one of his hot streaks, there’s a good chance that some of his next few homers won’t be of the solo-variety.

 

Let’s see how some other hitters did Saturday:

 

Gio Urshela (3B, New York Yankees)—1-3, R, HR, 4 RBI, BB. Another batter in the bottom portion of a loaded lineup. Urshela was excellent last season for the injury-ravaged Yankees when he surprised everyone by being one of their most productive bats. This season, with the Bronx bombers healthier, Urshela has continued to play every day, just lower in the lineup. Out of the eight-spot Saturday, Gio belted a grand slam off of Red Sox starter Zack Godley and continues to prove that 2019’s breakout was no fluke.

Evan Longoria (3B, San Francisco Giants)—3-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI, BB.  Party like it’s 2009! Longoria has been far from the MVP candidate that he was over a decade ago, but showed Saturday that he can absolutely still be productive at 34 years old. The grizzled veteran reached base four times and hit multiple balls over 103 mph, as his first-inning double and third-inning single were both absolutely scorched. The Giants aren’t by any means a good offense, but as long as Longo is hitting in a heart of the lineup, he’ll continue to be a reasonable way to accrue counting stats.

Marcell Ozuna (OF, Atlanta Braves)2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. Marcell Ozuna has been an excellent addition to the Braves’ offense through the first week of the season, and showcased why on Saturday with multiple hits. Ozuna seems to particularly enjoy playing against the New York Mets as well, as his first-inning homer off of Michael Wacha was his third bomb of the season, all of which have come against the Mets. Ozuna won’t be able to maintain his current OPS of 1.253, but is hitting the ball hard (95.2% average exit velocity so far in 2020), and should be a rock-solid fantasy contributor.

Rio Ruiz (3B, Baltimore Orioles)—1-2, 2 RBI, 2 BB, SB. Nobody expected the Orioles’ offense to be as good as it’s been, and Ruiz has been a big part of the success in Birdland. The 26-year-old already has three homers on the young season, and on Saturday he matched up against Ray’s starter Tyler Glasnow and picked up a walk in the second inning before later hitting an RBI single off of the Rays’ starter, and then stealing second base. Ruiz certainly cannot be counted on for steals moving forward, he has just three in his entire career, but the multiple walks show that he has begun to make strides in being more selective at the plate early in 2020.

Eloy Jimenez (OF, Chicago White Sox)—4-6, R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. The first of two young Chicago outfielders deserving of attention, Jimenez racked up four hits on Saturday. Jiminez started his night off with a bang when he came up with two men on base in the bottom of the first inning in a 1-0 game, and hit a dinger over 400 feet to right-center. The burly outfielder would later add three more hits, with his single in the top of the ninth inning giving him a fourth RBI as well.

Luis Robert (OF, Chicago White Sox)—4-6, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Robert is obviously the second young Chicago outfielder that balled out on Saturday, as the rookie phenom picked up four hits of his own, including a homer and a double. Robert was a polarizing player during draft season, but has been excellent in the first week of the season, rocking a .364/.382/.636 slash line while hitting leadoff in the windy city. The one thing that may eventually catch up to the 22-year-old is his strikeouts though, as even during this hot streak he carries a 32.1% K%.

Kyle Schwarber (OF, Chicago Cubs)—2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. Man, another Chicago outfielder! Schwarber was locked in at the plate on Saturday against the Pirates, and was hitting the ball hard all night. In fact, Schwarber’s homer (95.9 mph exit velocity) off of reliever Michael Feliz was only the third-hardest he hit the ball in his four plate appearances. Schwarber actually had both of the hardest-struck balls in this game between either team, with a 111.6 mph single and 114.6 mph GIDP both coming off of Pirates’ starter Mitch Keller.

Chris Owings (SS, Colorado Rockies)—3-4, R, RBI. Owings is hardly thought of as any more than just yet another example of the Rockies doing whatever they can to not give playing time to young players like Brendan Rodgers and/or Garrett Hampson, but the 28-year-old infielder produced Saturday. Owings had three hits in his four plate appearances, and although they were all singles, he squared the ball up every time he was at the plate. Owings is more of a DFS-play to monitor if the Rockies face a lefty in Coors than a season-long consideration, but it’s still impressive that he hit four balls over 93 mph in a single game.

Taylor Ward (OF, Los Angeles Angels)—2-4, 2 R, 3B. Ward was one of the big stories in this game, as his single in the sixth inning was struck at 106.7 mph and broke up what at the time was a perfect game by Astros starter Zack Greinke. The 2015 first-round draft pick would later add a triple off of Astros’ reliever Ryan Pressly and score multiple runs. Unfortunately for Ward, he also struck out twice, and with Mike Trout likely to return from the paternity list in the coming days, Ward is unlikely to see regular playing time.

 

(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

Nick Bucher

Nick is a University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) alum, a lifelong Orioles fan, and a fan of all things baseball. He is smitten with fantasy baseball, both season-long and DFS, and will be elated when the O's win the 2029 World Series.

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