MLB

Twins' Sano on verge of career high in homers, milestone

Miguel Sano will be searching for a new career high in #SanoDoubters when the Minnesota Twins host the Texas Rangers in a four-game series at Target Field, beginning Thursday evening.

Sanos 434-foot home run against the Padres on Wednesday was his 25th of 2017, tying the 25 dingers he hit in 116 contests last year in his second season in the majors.

It took him 18 fewer games to reach the quarter-century mark in 2017. A new career high appears imminent, but can the slugger reach 40 home runs?

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Before second baseman Brian Dozier smacked 42 home runs last year, the Twins hadnt had a 40-homer season from a player since Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew in 1969.

And with 57 games remaining on the Twins schedule, Sano would need another 15 homers to reach the milestone. For reference, Dozier had just 17 home runs through 98 games played last season.

If Sano reaches 40 clouts, it would be the first time the Twins had back-to-back 40-homer seasons since (you guessed it) Killebrew hit 45 in 1963 and 49 in 1964.

Sanos power surge could get a boost when he faces the Rangers, who are 18 games out of first place in the American League West and have allowed the sixth-most home runs in the American League and ninth-most in MLB. Also, Sano is batting .400 with five home runs in 13 career games vs. the Rangers.

In fact, since 2015, Sano has the third-highest on-base plus slugging percentage against the AL West among all big leaguers. Only Mike Trout and Edwin Encarnacion (who have combined for nine career All-Star appearances) have a better OPS against the West division.

MLB, Highest OPS vs. AL West Since 2015

Player, Team OPSvs. AL West
Mike Trout, LAA 1.084
Edwin Encarnacion, Cle 1.003
Miguel Sano, Min .942
Miguel Cabrera, Det .936
Nelson Cruz, Sea .896

NOTABLE

-- The Twins have a 266-267 record against the Rangers since 1972, but have outscored Texas by 14 runs in that span. Minnesota is 10-4 in its last 14 contests against Texas overall, averaging over 11 hits and seven runs in those games.

-- The Rangers have hit a home run in 81.3 percent of their games this season (87 of 107). Theyre on pace to set a new MLB record, currently held by the 1994 Tigers, who hit a homer in 80.9 percent of their ballgames.

-- Adalberto Mejia has a 3.50 ERA in the first three innings this season and opponents are hitting .208 against him in the fifth inning or later. Its the fourth inning that gets him in trouble (7.62 ERA, 2.77 homers per nine innings). Mejia hasnt allowed a home run, though, in his last three starts.

-- Speaking of Mejia, Texas has struggled against lefties all season. The Rangers are hitting .233 against left-handers in 2017, the lowest mark in the American League.

Statistics courtesy STATS, baseball-reference.com