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Buxton's Greatness Knows No Bounds

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 18 September 2018 · 1,128 views

minnesota twins byron buxton
Recently, the team behind MLB's Statcast came up with another visual and defensive metric for our perusal. It's still astonishing to me that the Baseball Savant platform is a free database to the average fan. That's the reality we live in however, and they've now introduced a Directional Outs Above Average leaderboard. In 2018 Byron Buxton obviously isn't on it. Looking back at least year though, the numbers are extraordinary.

MLB.com's David Adler broke down some of his findings using the new tool today on Twitter. Notably, the White Sox Adam Engel has been the most valuable outfielder in baseball this year when it comes to tracking down balls behind him. Quantifying anything above +5 as elite, Engel has tracked down baseballs behind him and to his glove side as good as anyone in baseball this season.



That's all fine and well, but the high water mark this year is +5. The Twins centerfielder won the Platinum Glove last season, and watching him play, it was easy to see why. Among players with at least 25 opportunities, Byron Buxton's 29 outs above average was eight clear of his closest competition (Ender Inciate 21). Generating those outs though, Buxton's play behind him is what sets him apart.



Working in centerfield, Buxton generated elite totals (+10 and +7) on balls to the left and right field gaps. With 81 home games a year played at Target Field, getting to baseballs towards the high wall in right center or the bullpen fence in left center, saved his pitcher's ERA significantly. With 20 OAA behind him, only the White Sox Engel came close (owning an 18 OAA mark on balls behind him).

During 2018, the Twins have gotten just 28 games from Buxton at the big league level. Due to injuries, rehab, and now service time issues, he simply hasn't been on the field for a team that took a significant step backwards. Max Kepler has been one of the most consistently available outfielders for Minnesota in his place, and his nine OAA total is quite the dropoff.

As you may expect, this reality has caused quite the problem for the Twins defensively. In 2017 Minnesota outfielders combined for a 24 DRS total, which was good enough for 4th in all of baseball. Fast forward to today and Minnesota owns just a 2 DRS total this season, ranking 17th in the big leagues. There's no doubt it has also contributed to the Twins sliding from 19th to 23rd year-over-year in terms of pitching ERA.

There really isn't anything groundbreaking about the concept that Byron Buxton is an immense talent on defense. That premise alone is why the Twins rushed him back from his initial injury this season, and why they were willing to sacrifice both his health and offensive game for the betterment of their team as a whole. That said, it's plenty refreshing to see new metrics reflect just how exceptional Minnesota's center fielder appears through the eye test.

Getting a healthy Buxton back next season should do wonders for Minnesota, and he should continue to be a best friend for Twins pitchers.

For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz

  • Oldgoat_MN, Hosken Bombo Disco, nclahammer and 2 others like this



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TheLeviathan
Sep 18 2018 04:15 PM

I agree, his defense is amazing.

 

Let's get that other important element working too.

    • Oldgoat_MN and adorduan like this

If you can't hit, the best you'll be is a defensive backup. Hardly worthy of a #2 pick overall.

    • IaFan1 likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
Sep 19 2018 10:04 AM

29 extra outs per season is great.. It doesn't make up for the outs he gives away at the plate. It won't take much improvement at the plate to turn him into a solid player, and a lot of improvement makes him a star. I hope he figures it out.

    • TheLeviathan, tarheeltwinsfan and puckstopper1 like this
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Ted Schwerzler
Sep 19 2018 10:12 AM

There's only three comments on this, and the amount of detraction towards him as a player because of his offense is already too much. Sure, he had a terrible 2018, but that was a total of 28 games.

 

The guy received MVP votes last year and hit for only a portion of it. Does he need to hit better than he did in 28 games this season? Certainly, but that's beyond obvious.

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TheLeviathan
Sep 19 2018 01:29 PM

My detraction is based on about 1,000 at-bats.He had two MVP months, he's had nearly a dozen months as a big leaguer where he was scraping for a .500 OPS.

    • adorduan and JaleelWhite FanClub like this
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Don Walcott
Sep 19 2018 03:45 PM

Sure, Buxton is the best outfielder in the majors, but I'll bet he can't kick a football 40 yards. He's worthless.

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tarheeltwinsfan
Sep 19 2018 07:31 PM

Bunt some Buck. 

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JaleelWhite FanClub
Sep 20 2018 07:23 AM

Can't wait for next's week's version of the "Buxton's 2017 was INCREDIBLE!" article.

 

I appreciate your articles, Ted. But the timing of this one hits a sore spot for me (and expect others - thus the comments above).

 

We as fans have heard enough about his defense. The team needs him to be an all-around player. I don't need metrics to tell me no matter how great he is in CF, if he's a bottom-5 MLB hitter, then the team will never reach its potential.

    • TheLeviathan, ewen21 and IaFan1 like this
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Ted Schwerzler
Sep 20 2018 07:29 AM

 

But the timing of this one hits a sore spot for me (and expect others - thus the comments above).

 

We as fans have heard enough about his defense. The team needs him to be an all-around player. I don't need metrics to tell me no matter how great he is in CF, if he's a bottom-5 MLB hitter, then the team will never reach its potential.

Unfortunately, I can't control when Statcast releases new information, but find the numbers intriguing.

 

Continuing to suggest he needs to hit is stating the obvious. Noting how exceptional someone is, when it's really that extraordinary, is interesting I guess. On top of that, bat or not, his absence has been felt heavily throughout the Twins pitching exploits this season.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

 

There's only three comments on this, and the amount of detraction towards him as a player because of his offense is already too much. Sure, he had a terrible 2018, but that was a total of 28 games.

 

The guy received MVP votes last year and hit for only a portion of it. Does he need to hit better than he did in 28 games this season? Certainly, but that's beyond obvious.

His career OPS is 672...and that represents a very clear boundary on his greatness.

 

If we attribute the difference of 22 DRS to Buxton alone...that amounts to 2 wins.If Buxton is going to be OPS+'ing 80 (or less), it won't take much for an average defensive player to make up the 2 wins in the batters box.

 

The defensive stats are cool...they just don't have the value that is often insinuated as part of Buxton conversations.Even center fielders have to hit some to have value.

 

Having said that, if Buxton could OPS+ a consistent 90, he'd have a lot of value.Think somewhere between Gary Pettis and Paul Blair.And I still think it's realistic that he can do that.

    • TheLeviathan, Sconnie, ewen21 and 1 other like this

Sorry, but I cannot help but roll my eyes at the title of this article.

    • DrNeau likes this

Buxton will be given every opportunity available. He has the ability to seek advice and work with people like Torii Hunter, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva. And that's just with the Twins.