Souhan: Should Rogers vs. Sano vex Twins fans? Look at the numbers

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Sometime this weekend, Miguel Sano may bat against Taylor Rogers, an event created by the baseball gods to boil a Twins fan's blood.

As an inducer of angst, the at-bat could be made more effective only if emceed by David Ortiz, the Twins' patron saint of regret.

Widely expected to finish third in the American League Central as recently as mid-March, the 2022 Twins are in first place July 29 as they begin a weekend series in San Diego.

This might be a cause for more celebration in Minnesota, had the team not traded its best veteran reliever to the Padres and if the return of Sano weren't viewed in Twindom the way the return of David Kahn would be viewed in Wolfdom.

Dealing Rogers and bringing back Sano are bound to anger fans tired of watching the Twins' bullpen implode and Sano missing pitches by 3 feet.

Look at the decisions unemotionally, and they become more understandable, even if Rogers spent the first three months of the season kicking the Twins' front office right in the analytics.

Let's start with Sano. Yes, he strikes out at a ridiculous rate. Yes, his slumps last longer than Minnesota's construction season.

Sano regularly fails the eye test. Which is why, in baseball more so than in any other sport, you always have to look up the numbers.

Should Sano be on the current roster? Of course.

Sano's career OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage) would be the third-highest OPS among current Twins regulars, behind only Byron Buxton and Luis Arraez.

Sano's career August OPS would be the highest on the current Twins' roster.

For all of his faults, Sano hits home runs, and his home-run spurts tend to be accompanied by walks. He is more valuable than a slumping Gilberto Celestino. Measured by OPS, he is more proven than Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff, and he has been a more productive career hitter than Gary Sanchez, Gio Urshela, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Buxton.

The Rogers trade is more vexing, because Rogers was exceptional for the Padres while the Twins' bullpen was blowing leads early in the season and again in a stretch against Cleveland that could prove pivotal in the division race.

So did the Twins make a bad deal?

Well, yes. Rogers has 28 saves. The Twins have 20.

The Twins' saves leader is Emilio Pagan, who hasn't been a standout reliever for four seasons and already has pitched his way out of the closer's role. He has nine.

The Twins' trade of Rogers for Pagan and starting pitcher Chris Paddack can't be defended, because Pagan has been awful and Paddack, after showing great promise, underwent the second Tommy John surgery of his career.

But was the trade foolish on its face?

The Twins believed Rogers was going to leave following this season and wanted to be able to trade him for good value. They believed trading Rogers for a veteran reliever and a promising starter who is under team control through the 2024 season would mean trading about 60 good innings for perhaps hundreds of quality innings.

Philosophically, this makes sense. If Paddack were healthy, he'd probably be the Twins' third starter right now, and his presence would be easing the loss of Bailey Ober and Josh Winder.

Also, Rogers' save total obscures his recent struggles. He has allowed four runs in his past 2 ⅔ innings. His ERA is a career-worst 4.35. His combined ERA in 2020-21 was 3.58. HIs ERA since June 28 (entering Thursday) is 8.74, with four blown saves.

The mistake the Twins made was not in trading Rogers but in trading him for a reliever (Pagan) who was less than promising and a starter (Paddack) who quickly was injured.

If the Twins made a mistake in their medical evaluation of Paddack, they will need to make changes to their process or to their medical personnel. If Paddack's injury was simply bad luck, then the Twins took a reasonable chance on the right kind of pitcher.