There has never been a young player that Jim Souhan has been happy with, let’s spell that out explicitly from the outset. He has no patience for growing pains as players come into the league. If a player has any sort of problem adjusting, it is a character flaw in the mind of Souhan, and that has always been the case. The most egregious example was his disdain for Trevor Plouffe when he came up, because he, like his pals Danny Valencia and Delmon Young had the audacity to enjoy themselves when playing baseball as part of a group derisively called the “fun bunch.”
The problem Souhan has with Sano is that he is too fat, by the Star Tribune columnist’s estimation. Perhaps there are a few people in the Twins organization that are concerned with Sano’s size and his prospects for long term health, but before we continue I should note that Sano’s health issues have been related to arm issues and directly fouling a ball off of his shin. Thad Levine directly addressed the topic to Derek Wetmore of 1500 ESPN, and recognizes that Sano is a bigger guy, but doesn’t sound terribly concerned. The most he says on the topic is that the Twins and Sano are aware that he is always going to play at a heavy weight, but there are athletes across the country that play at his size, comparing him explicitly to a defensive end.
While we’re at it, let’s make clear that Sano isn’t out of shape, and there is an optical illusion created by how baggy he wears his uniform. Here, with his jersey pulled tight after a swing, you can see that he doesn’t have much, if any belly.
So this is all about Souhan and his predilection for spouting nonsense about players who have actual medical issues. I don’t need to relitigate some of his greatest hits, nor do I need to try to analyze just what the hell is wrong with Souhan. Let’s just look at what was wrong with last week’s article.
Saturday night, Miguel Sano, the Twins’ best player, hit a ground ball and barely made it halfway down the line. This is not merely a problem. This is a flashing red light on the franchise’s dashboard…. There are those in the Twins organization who are concerned with Sano’s weight, whether or not it contributed to this injury.
This quote again: Miguel Sano hurt himself, also he’s fat. This is literally adding insult to injury.
Sano is 24 and until this week he had not suffered any injuries related to his bulk…
“And he still hasn’t” is how this quote should have ended. Since he didn’t, one must assume that Souhan meant to infer that Sano fouled a ball off his shin because he is so damn fat.
Pablo Sandoval comes to mind. The two-time All-Star third baseman failed to control his weight, and it has severely damaged a promising career. And for all of his talent and accomplishments, Sano has not yet put together a full, outstanding big-league season.
Let’s be very clear about this comparison. Pablo Sandoval was never as athletically gifted as Sano is now. Sandoval is and was a gap hitter, whereas Sano hits for power. Each of Sano’s two full seasons, he has hit more home runs than Sandoval did in any one season he played. Second, Sandoval is listed at 5’11, 255 pounds, whereas Sano checks in at 6’4 260. Understanding that this is the initial weight for both players, and it likely doesn’t change with a player’s fluctuating weight through their career, Sano started with a BMI 5 points lower than Sandoval.
Sano was called up in 2015, dominated for two months and then lagged, by his standards, in September.
Last season, his slow first month contributed to the Twins’ demise, and he slumped through July and August.
This season, he earned an All-Star berth, but his production slowed in June and July.
Every player has slumps and bad months. It’s important to realize that Sano’s are different, because he is really big.
Then came Saturday night, when Sano hit a grounder to third and barely made it halfway down the line because of his shin.
Oh, and also, he fouled a ball off his shin because he is crazy fat.
Sano should play at about 260 pounds, if not 250. He would have more energy, would run better, would have a better chance of staying healthy
Once again, he has not had a weight related injury in his career. By Souhan’s own admission.
The nice part about this is that Souhan didn’t take the lowest road and say that Sano’s weight was a result of laziness or lack of work ethic, but rather because of his diet. Even so, this is a miscalculated attempt at finding a problem where none exists, and setting himself up to say “I told you so” at any juncture wherein Sano finds trouble.