Miguel Sano made his major league debut July 2. Yes, he's really only been in the majors for two months. Yes, it's hard to remember what the Twins' lineup looked like without him. (Hint: It wasn't as pretty. They averaged 4.22 runs per game before Sano joined the team and have averaged 4.52 runs per game entering play Tuesday since he came into the lineup).
Here is a look at Sano's first two months in the big leagues, as framed by some interesting numbers:
• Every at-bat has four likely outcomes: a walk, a strikeout, a hit, or a ball put in play for an out. What's striking about Sano is the distribution of those four things, and how it adds up to an OPS of nearly 1.000.
In 206 plate appearances entering Tuesday's game, Sano had 49 hits; 33 walks; 74 strikeouts; and 50 other outs on balls put in play (21 on the ground, 19 fly balls and 10 line drives).
Fewer than half of Sano's plate appearances end with him putting the ball in play, and more than one-third of them end with strikeouts. By contrast, roughly three-fourths of Joe Mauer's 2015 at bats have ended with him putting the ball in play and only one of every six ends in a strikeout.
The 2015 sample size is larger for Mauer than it is for Sano, but with the data we have so far it's illustrative of the new model of hitting, where a strikeout isn't a sin — as long as you're taking walks and hitting the ball hard when you do put it in play. And oh, Sano is most definitely doing that.
• Of Sano's 49 hits entering Tuesday's game, 26 (slightly more than half, 13 homers and 13 doubles) have gone for extra bases. His batting average on balls in play (which takes home runs out of the equation) is .419, which might be considered unsustainable until you consider just how hard Sano hits the ball when he does make contact.
One of my favorite sites in 2015 is Baseball Savant, which takes exit velocity data from hitters and puts it into very usable form. The major league average exit velocity speed off the bat is somewhere between 88 and 89 mph this season. So we can consider 90 mph the standard where we start to call the contact speed above average.
Of the 73 Sano at-bats that have been tracked and in which he put the ball in play, 51 ended with him hitting the ball at least 90 mph (69.9 percent). Compared to the 90 mph+ percentages of teammates such as Trevor Plouffe (60.8), Mauer (59.9), Torii Hunter (58.3) and Brian Dozier (58.0), Sano is consistently hitting the ball "hard" about 10 percent more often.
It adds up to a monster first two months despite a pace that, over a full season, would have Sano striking out more than 200 times. His offensive production at least puts Sano in the Rookie of the Year conversation and has helped the Twins remain relevant into September.