Twins’ offense has picked up slack in Sano’s absence

It would have been natural for the Minnesota Twins’ offense to suffer without Miguel Sano in the lineup.

After all, Sano led Minnesota in home runs (28), runs (75), RBI (77) and slugging percentage (.514) after a 5-0 win against Arizona on Aug. 19. A couple of days later, Sano was placed on the disabled list due to a shin injury he actually suffered on Aug. 18 after fouling ball off himself and he’s yet to return.

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But a funny thing has happened since Sano last played — the Twins have scored more runs (197) than any other team in Major League Baseball. Plenty of players have picked up the slack in Sano’s absence.

Since Aug. 20, perhaps no Twin has picked up his game more than Joe Mauer (although, as we shall see, there are plenty of candidates). In 31 games, Mauer has a slash line of .375/.424/.525. In fact, since Aug. 10, Mauer is hitting .404, which is the second-highest batting average in the American League in that time period.

But, as they say on game shows, that’s not all!

Jorge Polanco has aptly filled Sano’s role, batting .295/.365/.566 with eight home runs and 30 RBI in 32 games. Byron Buxton is also mashing, with a .564 slugging percentage — he has nine doubles and eight home runs — to go with his .282 batting average, 23 runs, 22 RBI and six stolen bases.

Those two knocking the ball is nothing new in the second half, though, as Buxton (+.273) and Polanco (+.198) rank 1-2 in largest increase in slugging percentage from pre- and post-All-Star break.

Among other regulars, both Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar are slugging .516 since Aug. 20. Rosario has 10 homers and 27 RBI while Escobar has gone deep eight times with 22 runs and 22 RBI. Brian Dozier has a .370 on-base percentage, .475 slugging percentage, seven homers and 28 runs.

Even part-timers are chipping in, such as Jason Castro (.292/.358/.500 in 48 at-bats), Chris Gimenez (.317/.462/.488 in 41 AB), Robbie Grossman (.268/.360/.561 in 41 AB) and Kennys Vargas (.300/.407/540 in 50 AB).

Eight times since Sano has been absent have the Twins scored double-digit runs, including Thursday night’s 12-1 pasting of Detroit.

And guess what? The Twins still have three more games against the Tigers in this series and then close the series with three at Target Field vs. Detroit.

That sound you hear might just be Twins batters licking their chops.

Statistics courtesy STATS