Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Nelson Cruz wants 2 years

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:32 AM
https://www.mlbtrade...-year-deal.html
Full topic ›

2020 MLB (non-Twins) Postseason Discussion Thread

Other Baseball Today, 07:26 AM
Feel free to chime in here about any of the (non-Twins) 2020 MLB postseason games!
Full topic ›

YouTube TV Drops Fox Sports Regional Networks

Other Baseball Yesterday, 03:51 PM
Does MLB and its TV affiliates (mostly Fox Sports channels) realize how idiotic they are being by not being available to be watched on ma...
Full topic ›

Astros sign stealing scandal update

Other Baseball Yesterday, 03:36 PM
https://bleacherrepo...tealing-scandal
Full topic ›

Recent Blogs

Byron Buxton Still Has Time to Be the Next Kirby Puckett

Even Byron Buxton would likely admit the beginning of his big-league career has come with some frustration. He debuted at age 21 and has played parts of the last five years in the Twins line-up. Injuries and an inconsistent offensive approach have only heightened fans' frustration with the former first-round pick. Lucky for Twins fans, Buxton can still follow in the footsteps of one of the greatest players in team history.
Image courtesy of © Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
During his age-21 through age-23 seasons, Byron Buxton played 278 games at the big-league level. This culminated in a tremendous 2017 season where he won the Platinum Glove for his defense in center field. Also, he ended that season hitting .270/.330/.460 with 10 extra-base hits over his final 26 games. It truly looked like Buxton was putting it all together.

At age-23, Kirby Puckett had yet to make his MLB debut and was playing the entire season below the Double-A level. He’d played the entire season for Visalia in the California League by hitting .314/.366/.442 with 45 extra-base hits in 138 games. Puckett’s path to the big leagues could be considered alternative because he wasn’t drafted until he was 21 and he didn’t make his professional debut until age 22.

It’s no secret that Buxton is entering a critical year in his career. He has only played more than 92 games once since his rookie season so the Twins need him to prove he can stay healthy and productive. His 2019 season ended early due to a left shoulder labrum injury. Minnesota’s goal is to have him ready for Opening Day but the club has made it clear that there is no intent to rush him.

Puckett started to show his Hall of Fame potential during his age-26 season, the same age season Buxton will enter in 2020. Puckett made the first of 10-straight All-Star appearances, he’d win his first Gold Glove and Silver Slugger and he finished sixth in the MVP voting. From that point forward, he’d win six more Gold Gloves, five more Silver Sluggers, and he’d finish in the top-10 for MVP six times.

Up to this point in his career, so much of Buxton’s game has relied on speed and his game will need to continue to evolve as he ages. He has continued to add muscle over the last two off-seasons in hopes of avoiding injury. He is still in the prime of his career, but players regress in different ways as they reach their upper 20s and early 30s. Will Buxton be able to make the appropriate adjustments throughout his career?

Buxton’s minor league performance got him to the minor leagues faster than some of the best centerfielders in Twins history. He has already accumulated more WAR than Torii Hunter, Denard Span and Puckett through his age-25 season. This is quite the trio to be compared to, but Buxton is in an organization with a long history of strong center fielders.

Is it fair to compare Buxton to Puckett? Probably not, but fans shouldn’t give up on the former first-round pick just yet. He has plenty of career still in front of him.

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

  • ToddlerHarmon likes this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

15 Comments

I think some people forget how young Buxton still is. Some were ready to give up on this guy way too early.

I think he’s going to have a big year and finally prove a lot of people wrong.
    • Cris E, Huffmental, JoshDungan1 and 2 others like this
If he could make contact like Puckett did, he'd be unstoppable almost. I'll be happy with healthy for the season. That's all he needs to do in this lineup. Gravy sure is nice though.

Would be great to see him put it all together and stay healthy all season. I have my doubts whether he'll ever be able to put it all together offensively but he could still be a very good player if he can just stay on the field and produce some value offensively. Definitely an exciting guy to watch.

He was producing at a pretty high level last year before injuries de-railed him. So yeah, I think health is the main issue. Stay healthy he gives himself a chance to be really productive.
    • Twins33 and Huffmental like this
Photo
Brock Beauchamp
Feb 23 2020 09:10 PM

Stop. Hitting. Walls. Byron.

 

He could easily be a $200m player on the open market if he stops hurting himself. Last season showed just how devastating he can be when healthy and hitting.

    • Cris E likes this

"He's still young" - well, by baseball standards I don't think that's true any longer. I think Twins fans are the only people that still think of Bux this way, and frankly it seems a bit naive, kinda like how little kids notice a limp on the aging family dog and say "Buster's still young, he's got plenty of good years in him, right Dad?"

 

Francisco Lindor. Correa. Bellinger, Acuna, Bregman, Soto, Shane Beiber, Jack Flaherty, Gleybar Torres, Shohei Ohtani....Jose Berrios....these are just a handful of players younger than Buxton, but one could keep going all day.You get the idea.

 

Can Buxton still become a force in MLB? Absolutely. Can he finally have that breakout season we've been waiting for since 2012? Definitely. Do I want him to succeed more than anything? YES! Will I be drafting him as a "sleeper pick" way too early in my fantasy baseball draft? Obviously!

 

Let's agree to stop pretending he's just a kid. He's got a decent amount of MLB experience under his belt, and believe it or not I think he's going to end up providing good veteran leadership for guys like Lewis before it's all said and done.

    • Vanimal46, ewen21 and KFEY93 like this

Stop. Hitting. Walls. Byron.

He could easily be a $200m player on the open market if he stops hurting himself. Last season showed just how devastating he can be when healthy and hitting.


Or somehow he has to figure out how to take glancing blows off the walls instead of direct hits? I mean Jackie Bradley and Kevin Kiermeier seem to run into the walls a lot but they seem to stay healthy?? So maybe they hit the walls differently than Byron?? IDK, I guess I'm grasping for something because the high flying defense is definitely a part of his game, so how to accomplish that and still stay healthy is the objective I would think?
    • bighat likes this

He certainly is gaining valuable experience at such a young age.Let's hope he can play 150+ games in '20.WIN TWINS!

 

Or somehow he has to figure out how to take glancing blows off the walls instead of direct hits? I mean Jackie Bradley and Kevin Kiermeier seem to run into the walls a lot but they seem to stay healthy?? So maybe they hit the walls differently than Byron?? IDK, I guess I'm grasping for something because the high flying defense is definitely a part of his game, so how to accomplish that and still stay healthy is the objective I would think?

I think Kiermeir and Bradley often get to the wall more quickly, so they can time their jump and/or prepare for impact.

 

Or, it's possible that Kiermeir and Bradley aren't as fast as Buxton, and thus aren't in a position to even make an attempt on those balls.

 

Who knows! I think we're all scratching our heads!

Photo
Doctor Gast
Feb 24 2020 09:39 AM

Buxton has so much potential! When he`s in the game things happen, we are a different team when he`s in the the game, a real impact player. I believe he`ll figure it all out & become that great player. 

Photo
Twins_Fan_For_Life
Feb 24 2020 01:09 PM
Age 25 is when most mortals make their MLB debut.

A couple weeks back Rocco was talking about having him play a little deeper and use his speed to come in rather than go back. It would trade a few singles for getting to the wall with time to check up, which I think everyone would take.

    • adorduan likes this
Photo
Homerhankie
Feb 24 2020 03:14 PM
I just have this feeling. I see him being a top 5ish mvp candidate in 2020. I am also very bullish on Berrios flirting with 20 wins and being a Cy Young candidate. I hope to look back and say yes, I was correct. Win Twins!

Age 25 is when most mortals make their MLB debut.


That is true. But top prospects, especially the #1 overall prospect for multiple seasons have different standards.
    • adorduan likes this

Kirby Puckett never played in under 145 games 9 years in a row.That alone makes this hopeful comparison completely off base, in my opinion.He isn't going to suddenly develop into a durable player, and in fact, as he goes into his 26 year old season he is player entering his statistical prime. For a first round pick with such hype he has a .292 OBP and he is supposed to be a speed guy!

 

When I see Buxton, I do not see Kirby Puckett.I see Mike Cameron--so far


Similar Articles


by Nick Nelson , 20 Oct 2020
Photo


by John Bonnes , 18 Oct 2020
Photo


by Cody Christie , 05 Oct 2020
Photo


by Cody Christie , 28 Sep 2020
Photo


by Nick Nelson , 27 Sep 2020
Photo