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Go get Verlander

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Article: Diving Into The Offseason: A Buxton Extension?

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Buxton Showing Snapshot Of Greatness

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 18 September 2017 · 914 views

minnesota twins byron buxton
On September 18, 2017 Byron Buxton owns a .258/.320/.430 slash line for the Minnesota Twins. While there's little to write home about a .749 OPS, it's well past time to take note of what the hometown squad's centerfielder is doing. Despite a September surge in 2016, we haven't seen anything like this from Buxton before, and he's already vaulting himself into the conversation of the best the Twins have ever seen.

Looking at his 2017 as a whole, it's easily apparent that everything has been watered down due to such a slow start. What's less apparent without digging under the hood, is just how incredible he's been since. Rather than getting words in the way, let's allow the numbers to speak for themselves:
  • Since May 14: 99 G .284/.341/.481
  • Since the All Star Break (July 14): 46 G .323/.369/.622
  • Since August 6th: 40 G .333/.375/.653
What we see here, is an incredible surge over a relatively decent sample size. Extrapolating Buxton's numbers from the All Star Break over 162 games, we arrive at 21 doubles, 18 triples, 39 homers, 106 RBI, and 35 stolen bases. In other words, Buxton sustaining a 46 game second half over the course of a full season has his walking away with an MVP award (and that's even before considering his defense).

While it's fair to still hold out for a little more of a sustained sample, this isn't simply a replication of a September 2016 performance against watered down competition. Buxton has been raking against good pitchers, across multiple scenarios, for multiple months. Over the course of 2017, working with new hitting coach James Rowson, the Twins centerfielder rebuilt his swing at the big league level while never taking a trip back to Triple-A. The long and short of Buxton's transformation has been nothing short of incredible. Now reaping the fruits of his labor, he's flashing all of the tools that made him the top prospect in all of baseball.

It wouldn't be fair to solely focus in on Buxton's offense, even if that's where the most growth has come from. In the field, he's all but ran away with the American League CF Gold Glove award. Leading all fielders not named Mookie Betts in DRS, Buxton has bailed pitchers out with both his arm strength and his range. Looking at Baseball Savant (Statcast), Buxton still tops the charts across MLB in 4 star outs. With a catch probability registering between 26-50%, Buxton has had 27 opportunities, converting 26 of them into outs.

Things get even more nutty as you look at the newly introduced Outs Above Average metric. With 24 OAA, Buxton's individual total comes in ahead of every single team in the big leagues, with the closest number being the Rays 20 OAA. On balls Buxton can make a play on, he's been deemed to have an 86% expected catch rate, and in turn, has owned a 92% actual catch rate. When balls are put in Buxton's vicinity in the Twins outfield, he's added a 6% catch probability. Over the course of 2017, that in part, goes to illustrate why Twins pitchers have seen an uptick in their own numbers.

Simply put, Buxton has been the premier outfielder in all of Major League Baseball for virtually the entirety of 2017. When he's in centerfield, it's impossible not to see him as a game changing asset. What's changed, is that since the middle of the year, he's also become an incredible threat at the plate (and in turn on the basepaths). Instead of simply being a Gold Glove winner on an annual basis, this version of Byron Buxton is in the Most Valuable Player realm.

At just 23 years old, there's probably more to Buxton than we've seen thus far. For everyone else across the league, that's a scary thought to wrestle with. For those in Twins Territory, the only appropriate result is Buck Yeah!

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

  • Dance with Disco Dan, puckstopper1 and DelusionalTwinsFan like this



I have doubts he would achieve those HR totals over a full season, but it's possible. In their place, however, would be a surge in doubles. Regardless, I am not dumping in him, his numbers, his turnaround or potential. He is an amazing young talent who is just now coming in to his own.
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Ted Schwerzler
Sep 18 2017 12:22 PM

 

I have doubts he would achieve those HR totals over a full season, but it's possible. In their place, however, would be a surge in doubles. Regardless, I am not dumping in him, his numbers, his turnaround or potential. He is an amazing young talent who is just now coming in to his own.

I don't ever see Buxton being more than a 25 HR guy, but he should be able to surpass 40 doubles over a full season. Regardless, it's pretty exciting to look at.

I think the kid CAN hit 30+ HRs/35+ 2B/12+ 3B/40+ SB. Have him carry over this new-found confidence to a full season. 2018 Tripple slash: .295/.385/.475 with Gold Glove Defense. That's just about MVP right there.
    • DelusionalTwinsFan likes this
He can play there is no doubt. While his success at every level has followed a seeming adjustment period, the one up here lasted a little longer. Probably not that unusual. He is truly gifted. I do hope that he quits running into the OF fence. The knack of finding the fence, THEN jumping is still in the development phase. He won't win any MVP's face down on the warning track.
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puckstopper1
Sep 23 2017 10:26 AM

When the Twins drafted Buxton, I was hoping he'd turn into a player of Andrew McCutchen's caliber.  Defensively it appears that he has exceeded that vision. Now that he has picked it up offensively, he is getting close to that caliber of player.