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Miguel Sano is the next 40 home run hitter

You can expect lots and lots of ding dong Johnsons from Miguel Sano going forward.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

As some readers may know by now, I am a deranged Mets fan. Back in 2013, there wasn't much for Mets fans to enjoy. Ownership had massively cut payroll and the MLB team was about to suffer its 5th straight losing season. So, a lot of us Mets fans took to the minor leagues to try to get a glimpse at what the future may bring. Luckily for me, Sandy Alderson had just traded for a 20 year old, 6'6 Texan named Noah Syndergaard, who the Mets placed in the Florida State League to start 2013.

What does this have to do with Miguel Sano? I went to watch Syndergaard pitch in person a few times in the FSL, and the first time I saw him pitch was against the Fort Myers Miracle, the Twins FSL team. This hulking 20 year old named Miguel Sano, who was a top 20 prospect at the time, came to the plate in the 1st inning and launched a GIGANTIC home run off Syndergaard, and I was floored at that type of power in high A ball. The Florida State League is not exactly known as a hitter friendly league, and to see that type of power was pretty startling, especially against a high quality opponent like Syndergaard.

Sano went 2/4 with 3 RBI in that game, plus that gigantic dinger. That was my loud introduction to Sano's talent.

To give a visual of Sano's raw power, this home run was hit in a Florida State League park in March of 2015, in a spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter:

The ball lands off the Marlins complex in the outfield.

Sano has hit at every single professional level of his career, including last year in MLB. The lowest production he's turned in at any level was 36% above the league average, in rookie ball in 2010 as a 17 year old. What is most amazing to me is that Sano missed all of 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery and didn't miss a beat when he came back on the field: he hit 56% better than league average in AA in 2015, and came straight up to the majors where he hit 18 HR in 335 PA (80 games) with a 151 wRC+. That type of production in the big leagues for a 22 year old after missing an entire season of professional ball the year prior is incredible.

Sano hits the ball really hard, too. According to statcast, Sano's average exit velocity was third highest in MLB last year at a tick under 95 mph, behind only Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Cabrera. His one glaring flaw is that he does swing and miss a lot (35% K%, 61% contact% last year in MLB) but when he connects, the ball gets smoked. Target Field is one of the more spacious parks in baseball, but that field cannot hold Sano's power when he squares the ball up.

For 2016, here's a comparison between two of the most popular public projection systems, ZiPS and Steamer:

Proj.

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

R

RBI

Steamer

32

.255

.344

.501

79

91

ZiPS

26

.249

.337

.491

68

76

I'm more on the optimistic side for Sano this year. The fact that he missed an entire year in 2014 and produced the way he did last year at 22 years old really stands out to me. Because of his excellent walk rate but average to potentially below average batting average, he'll have more value in an OBP league than a standard league.

Ultimately, I think it's only a matter of time before Sano starts racking up 40 HR seasons. It will be tough to accomplish that this year, though; only 24 players in baseball history have reached a 40 HR season at age 23 or younger, which is the age Sano will play at in 2016. In the last decade, Prince Fielder (2007), Bryce Harper (2015), and Mike Trout (2015) are the only players to have accomplished that feat. A 30-35 HR season is more likely for Sano this year, but I don't think a 40 HR type year is impossible with his ridiculous raw power and skill level.

Follow on Twitter @TimFinn521