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Can't find the old thread on this but it's probably time for a new one anyway. Fangraphs just published their playoff odds - https:...

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Buxton's Offense Is Launching... Or Has It Launched?

Posted by TwerkTwonkTwins , 23 January 2020 · 1,723 views

byron buxton launch angle offense
Byron Buxton has proven that he will provide multiple wins above replacement, if he stays healthy and hits at an acceptably average level. The bad news is that Buxton failed to stay healthy for the latter half of 2019, limiting what could have been. The great news is that he appeared to be making major swing and philosophy adjustments that may lead to above-average offensive production going forward.

The first step was reducing his strikeout rate (K%), that allowed him to have a chance to put more balls in play. While Buxton may never have a strikeout rate below 20%, his 2019 K% of 23.1% decreased by a difference of 22% year-over-year. He also doubled his walk rate (BB%) from his disaster 2018 season, to significantly improve his BB/K ratio to 0.28.

Buxton K BB Rate

If Buxton can continue reducing his strikeout rate (it was over 30% in his first two seasons), and keep his walk rate steady, he will have many more chances to receive more pitches and drive the ball.
Another major problem in the beginning of Buxton's career was watching too many early pitches become established in the strike zone, and he would proceed to flail at the third strike when he was in protect-mode. Pitchers threw nearly the same amount of pitches in the zone from 2018 to 2019, but Buxton continued his 4-year trend of swinging at more of these pitches (Z-Swing%).

Z Swing

Buxton's contact of pitches in the zone (Z-Contact%) has remained constant throughout his career at roughly 82%, but that's not a bad thing. If contact is constant, but his trend of an increasing ZSwing% continues, Buxton will continue to increase his total contact events on hittable pitches. More aggression on pitches in the zone also reduces pitcher's counts, and ultimately strikeouts. He's come a long way from watching nearly 40% of pitches in the zone go on by in 2015.

Increasing total contact on hittable pitches is swell, but the contact result is what matters in the end. Buxton's balls in play had encouraging results in 2019, establishing a career low in groundball rate (GB%) and a career high in flyball rate (FB%).

GB FB

Our new savior, Josh Donaldson previously said, "...they don't pay you for groundballs. They pay you for doubles, they pay you for homers." Well said, Josh.

Buxton clearly took note of this philosophy, but how did he increase his flyball rate?

Launch angle. Buxton's average launch angle of 19.5 degrees ranked 17th among all MLB players with a minimum of 250 plate appearances, and this also led the team that set the single season home run record.

Launch Angle

In addition to lifting the ball more often, he was also making stronger contact than ever before. Buxton set career highs in barrel rate, exit velocity, and hard hit percentage in 2019. He was also above the MLB averages in each of these metrics, becoming a below-the-radar Statcast darling.

Barrel


It was an absolute shame Buxton's season ended prematurely, but his trajectory is promising if he can stay on the field. Buxton's changes - reducing his strikeout rate, increasing aggressiveness within the zone, higher launch angle, and harder contact - resulted in a 111 wRC+ for 2019. The path to becoming an above average offensive player has been a long and winding road for Buxton, but he finally arrived after trending in the correct direction for years.

  • cjj td and ToddlerHarmon like this



I predict he silences the haters and leads the 2020 Twins in WAR.He will be the best 9 hole hitter in the league.

    • gil4 likes this
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TwerkTwonkTwins
Jan 23 2020 03:42 PM

If he's healthy for a full season and provides similar offense, it's certainly possible he could lead the team in WAR.

 

I predict he silences the haters and leads the 2020 Twins in WAR.He will be the best 9 hole hitter in the league.

 

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strumdatjaguar
Jan 23 2020 09:01 PM
OK. I’ll jump into the deep end. He’ll be the lead off hitter before the end of the year

 

OK. I’ll jump into the deep end. He’ll be the lead off hitter before the end of the year

The only skill he has that would qualify him to lead off is his speed. Other than that, the rest of the options like Kepler, Arraez, Polanco, even Donaldson would be better options because of their on base ability. Buxton may benefit from that spot just because of the hitters he'd have behind him but with the way our lineup stacks up for 2020, that'll be negligible no matter where he hits.

Throw out 2018. Compare 2017, his 'promising' year, to last season.

 

Significantly lower K%. Very Good. Same OBP, modestly improved BA, same HR%...way higher SLG.

 

How is that possible?

His BB% actually slipped a little. His BABiP slipped significantly with all the pulling and launching (more pull-happy than ever in 2019).

 

But doubles. Lots and lots of doubles. Buxton's career doubles rate going into last year...just over 4%.Last year, easily over 10%...highest in baseball among players with 250+ PA. Only player in that category with more doubles than singles...no player you've ever heard of even close. Probably not sustainable for long. The good news is that he can eventually translate the improved ability to barrel to more HR's...along with a good number of doubles/triples. Meanwhile, it would be great if he could use right and right center more...would really help that BA/BABiP, IMO.

Yes, these statistics show great potential. BUT, the only way he can realize his potential is to stay on the field. YES, he might make 5 or so fewer catched is he plays it safe at the wall like say, Max Kepler. This Tori Hunter macho attitude about catching ball is brave but even Tori stopped being so aggressive later in his career. Why can't Tori impart his experience to Buxton and shorten this process. 

 

So, my point is, what is more detrimental to the Twins and Buxton's career. Giving up 5 catches per year or making those 5 catches and spending half the year on the bench. 

 

Remember, those five attempts only present themselves because of Buxton's phenomenal speed. Any replacement not only would never HAVE an opportunity to make those five attempts but due to elite speed will not make the 20 or more catches Bryon MAKES because of speed. 

 

Buxton needs to let balls go that require him to run into the wall at high speed. Remember, the faster you run the harder the hit. No one in baseball can run into a wall harder than Bryon. This is precisely why he SHOULD NOT run into the wall at higher speed than anyone else in baseball could ever do. 

 

Only Buxton can decide whether he wants the stay on the field the majority of the year to help the Twins. How many times have we heard that the Twins have a higher winning percentage with Buxton on the field. Let's hope that Bryon makes a consensus decision to limit the chances of injury's not only for the benefit of the Twins but his chances to ever play enough innings to potentially be the Hall of Fame candidate his skill set may allow.

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TwerkTwonkTwins
Jan 25 2020 10:24 PM

 

Yes, these statistics show great potential. BUT, the only way he can realize his potential is to stay on the field. YES, he might make 5 or so fewer catched is he plays it safe at the wall like say, Max Kepler. This Tori Hunter macho attitude about catching ball is brave but even Tori stopped being so aggressive later in his career. Why can't Tori impart his experience to Buxton and shorten this process. 

 

So, my point is, what is more detrimental to the Twins and Buxton's career. Giving up 5 catches per year or making those 5 catches and spending half the year on the bench. 

 

Remember, those five attempts only present themselves because of Buxton's phenomenal speed. Any replacement not only would never HAVE an opportunity to make those five attempts but due to elite speed will not make the 20 or more catches Bryon MAKES because of speed. 

 

Buxton needs to let balls go that require him to run into the wall at high speed. Remember, the faster you run the harder the hit. No one in baseball can run into a wall harder than Bryon. This is precisely why he SHOULD NOT run into the wall at higher speed than anyone else in baseball could ever do. 

 

Only Buxton can decide whether he wants the stay on the field the majority of the year to help the Twins. How many times have we heard that the Twins have a higher winning percentage with Buxton on the field. Let's hope that Bryon makes a consensus decision to limit the chances of injury's not only for the benefit of the Twins but his chances to ever play enough innings to potentially be the Hall of Fame candidate his skill set may allow.

 

This post wasn't necessarily about his defensive aggression, but he does have to stay on the field for the offensive changes to bring an impact to the team on all sides of the game.

 

Many of the quotes going around last season all spoke to Buxton's "instinct" to try and catch these balls. He's been told at every level how hard he works, being verbally rewarded when he sacrifices his body for defense. The new regime has tried to curb his aggression, but logic only takes you so far in the heat of the moment, especially at the speeds he travels.

 

It's a Catch-22, because you would want Buxton to make the diving catch Aaron Hicks made in the heartbreaking loss to the Yankees. But when he makes an attempt/catch like that and gets hurt, everyone questions the decision. I think it's about picking the spots to be aggressive, but that is harder than it appears on paper.

I predict he silences the haters and leads the 2020 Twins in WAR.He will be the best 9 hole hitter in the league.

If he's the best 9 hole hitter in the league, he won't remain the best 9 hole hitter in the league for long. :)
 

    • Platoon likes this
Wow! Incredibly encouraging signs. great post.
    • TwerkTwonkTwins likes this