He’s playing third base in his debut, the position he’s played the most over the course of his career and where he made 14 of his 21 starts with Triple-A St. Paul this year. It’s safe to assume, though, that he’ll be playing first in Sanó’s stead until he’s ready to come back, a spot he’s gotten a decent amount of reps at, along with five starts, so far this season.
Wherever he plays defensively is almost secondary. We all know why Miranda is getting his first crack at a big league lineup: his bat.
For now, he’s going to get an opportunity to play fairly regularly, at least until Sanó is healthy. But if Miranda is doing Miranda-like things, he does offer some positional flexibility to keep getting his bat into the lineup if the Twins decide he can help them win games.
One thing I think you’re going to see for certain is a whole lot of contact. Throughout his career, Miranda has posted elite-level contact rates. He carries a career miniscule strikeout rate of 12.1 percent with him to the Twins’ lineup. That’s been his greatest strength, and at times, a weakness for him at the plate.
After the Twins took him in the second round of the 2016 Draft, Miranda tried to hit everything. And he largely succeeded. But it wasn’t impactful contact. It was often early in counts. He could chase pitches out of the zone at a high rate, but that wouldn’t be reflected in strikeout rates because he was so good at putting the bat on the ball. But he got himself out more than he used those contact skills for his or his team’s benefit.
Because of this, there wasn’t much power to speak of over the course of the early stages of his career. It showed up a bit early on, but he slugged just .418 in 2018 and dipped to .369 in 2019. There’s a reason why the Twins didn’t put him on the 40-man roster following the 2020 non-Minor League season, the first year he could have been protected from the Rule 5 Draft.
Then in 2021, it all clicked. He hit his way from Double-A to Triple-A and smashed 30 homers while slugging .572. So what happened? In a word: selectivity.
It’s not just about walk rate, though that did tick up a bit in 2021, from about 6 percent entering the season to just over 7 percent for the season. (He’s at 5.3 percent this year to date). It’s really more about working counts and even learning to not miss pitches he can drive early. His chase rate has declined every year since 2019 and that’s been the main reason why he’s gotten to his power in games more consistently. It’s still relying on that contact rate and knowing he’s not in trouble with two strikes. He’s bought into that concept and knowing he doesn’t have to swing at the first pitch he can get to.
Even this year, when his Triple-A numbers have seemed more modest, the Twins noted the low chase rate and the strong barrel rates. It’s a reason why they felt comfortable calling him up when his surface-level .256/.295/.442 line seems ordinary. The data underneath it, which Miranda now embraces, has shown he’s still the same hitter who broke out in 2021 and could very well hit enough to stick around even after Sanó comes off the injured list.