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Article: Believe in Byron Buxton


Nick Nelson
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On August 17th, 2017, Byron Buxton broke his own Statcast record by sprinting around the bases in 13.85 seconds on an inside-the-park homer.

 

I thought that was fast until I saw how quickly a large contingent of Twins fans somehow turned on the franchise's most vital asset.When I posted my spend-happy offseason blueprint earlier this week, full of far-fangled notions, somehow the suggestion that drew most skepticism was a Buxton extension. I've seen numerous people suggest he's no longer a player you can plan around. On Twitter the other day, some dude tweeted at me "Cave is better than Buxton."

 

It blows my mind that Twins fans, fresh off watching Aaron Hicks achieve superstar status in New York, can make these kinds of comments. Hicks was the original Buxton: He was called up too soon, because his athleticism and minor-league performance were irresistible, and then he endured a long battle with the MLB learning curve. Hicks was so psyched out at one point he briefly gave up switch-hitting.

 

Now, at age 28, he just put up a top-25 WAR in the majors. He's one of the best players on a championship-caliber team. After plenty of ups and downs, Hicks finally figured it all out, at the center of his theoretical "prime." It's hardly a unique scenario.

 

And here's the thing: Buxton is WAY BETTER than Hicks. That's not even debatable. Buxton's age-23 season in 2017 was vastly better than any of Hicks' seasons with the Twins through age 25.

 

Although their paths have been notably similar – from two-way prep stars to first-round draft picks to top prospects to early big-league debuts – Buxton has outpaced Hicks at every step.

 

And yet, now I see people ready to give up on Buxton, as a 24-year-old coming off an undeniably crappy campaign. We've been here before. And we've seen what happens after.

 

Yes, there is a chance that Buxton never quite figures it out, or his injury woes prevent him from ever being a truly productive player. It's a bigger chance than it was a year ago. In his own mind, Buxton needs to account for that reality, and so does his agent. Which is why a long-term extension makes all the sense in the world for both sides right now.

 

A lengthy pact in the $50 million range with an upfront bonus would be more than tenable for the Twins and would seemingly be appealing to Buxton, who could still hit the market around age 30. It would also establish some needed stability in a clubhouse with no long-term commitments, while soothing whatever tension remains after the September snub.

 

From the moment they drafted him second overall 2012, and watched him blossom into the unanimous top prospect in the game, the Twins have envisioned Buxton becoming their franchise centerpiece right about now. To let one wayward season obscure that view would be to ignore a lengthy history of similar cases – not to mention Buxton's blindingly obvious abilities.

 

Believe in Byron Buxton. Pay the man. And slow down with the jabs, because they're gonna look absolutely silly in hindsight.

 

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FWIW I'm still on the Buxton train.

 

I can understand the skepticism. His defense has been elite since he stepped onto the field, but aside from an insanely hot July though September of 17' he's oscillated between atrocious and below average at the plate. I'm not sure I'd call Hicks a superstar but he's certainly better than Buxton at this moment. Honestly, if we're picking a team for only next year, is anybody choosing Buxton to start in CF ahead of Hicks? Each player may have broken out in 17' but Hicks followed that season up with an even better one while Buxton reverted back to a player who looked clueless with a bat in his hands. Maybe (hopefully) last season can be chalked up to injuries & mishandling, and Buxton bounces back similarly to Hicks. 

 

IMO a long term deal probably isn't in the best interest of either side right now. The Twins were content to gain an extra year, even if it meant pissing Buxton off. They might as well use it to see how this season plays out. If Buxton bounces back and they end up spending a little more they can consider it the fee for a more secure investment. 

 

I can't imagine Buxton is in any rush to sign a long term team friendly deal, especially after the way he was handled last season. Using last season as leverage, after stealing a year of service time from him, to coerce him into signing a deal that would pay well below what he stands to make as a FA assuming he can replicate some of his 17' season is a bad look for the Twins. Buxton is better off betting on himself. 

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I strongly concur. Buxton has such a high ceiling and he is soooo close to emerging big time. Do not give up at this point.

The Hicks trade is a prime example of scouting and player development being the keys to succeeding as a franchise. Had the Twins been better at both in 2015 we would be looking at an outfield of Rosario, Buxton, and Hicks, with Cave or Kepler as the fourth man. There would be none better in the major leagues.

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I'm way too conservative to talk about a contract at this time.  If he has a decent, doesn't need to be great, first half with the bat would talk to him in July.

 

I also believe Buxton should be a member of the Twins for a long, long time.  If he doesn't solve his problems with the bat this year, spend the next offseason working with him to change the type of hitter he is.  Bunt once a game.  Bunt with two strikes in a pitchers count, fouling off half is better than striking out on most.  I never played the game and don't have a clue, but can they teach him to hit more balls on the ground rather than in the air?  

 

Change him to more of a singles hitter and use that speed.  Hell, most of his singles can be doubles after a pitch or two to the next batter.  Even as a singles hitter, if he gets his average above .260, he is an all-star.

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I'm way too conservative to talk about a contract at this time.  If he has a decent, doesn't need to be great, first half with the bat would talk to him in July.

 

 

Agree, it would be nice to see him not batting .150 in April before you start offering him a long term contract.  Plenty of time to offer him a contract and way too early to give up on him.

 

But I do agree the FO needs to start signing some of the player to long term contracts.  Just hope they do this for players like Berrios, Polanco & Rosario who have had productive seasons.

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I believe Buxton's eyesight is damaged by repeated concussions. It's what I chalk up his poor pitch recognition to. So I am less willing to toss aside a bad season as an outlier - it may be how he is, going forward.

 

OTOH concussion damage often spontaneously heals itself after many months. It's so unpredictable. If my medically unqualified opinion holds water, he's worth keeping, even two more years, as a bounceback candidate.

 

But I'm not willing to give him a multi-year extension at this time - a short year from now such a contract may look like Ricky Nolasco's or Phil Hughes's.

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Agree, it would be nice to see him not batting .150 in April before you start offering him a long term contract.  Plenty of time to offer him a contract and way too early to give up on him.

 

But I do agree the FO needs to start signing some of the player to long term contracts.  Just hope they do this for players like Berrios, Polanco & Rosario who have had productive seasons.

I'd add Gibson to that list, KGB.

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All I know is that (hope + potential) squared = 0. Anyone who goes on the DL because of headaches and then does back on the DL during rehab after fouling a ball of his toe is trying to tell us something even if unintentionally. I do agree that Buxton (along with the other wunderkinder, Sano) deserve one AND ONLY ONE more chance. How they work it out may require some actual thought.

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I have not given up on Buxton;  however, until he shows some consistency, an extension will be ill-advised.

 

The two things are not mutually exclusive.   The Twins have bigger fish to fry at this point (pitching - pitching - pitching) to make them competitive, than a Buxton extension.

 

A Buxton extension will do nothing for them in 2019.  Cross that bridge when you have to, and Rosario, Berrios, Sano should be ahead of Buxton in the extension lines because of service time.

Edited by Thrylos
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All I know is that (hope + potential) squared = 0. Anyone who goes on the DL because of headaches and then does back on the DL during rehab after fouling a ball of his toe is trying to tell us something even if unintentionally. I do agree that Buxton (along with the other wunderkinder, Sano) deserve one AND ONLY ONE more chance. How they work it out may require some actual thought.

So, a player suffering from migraines and then fouling a ball off his toe is sending a message? Really??

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I think Buxton can succeed, I just don't want the team to rely on his success for their success. But that's not Buxton exclusive.

 

I don't want them to rely on Sano, or Berrios, or Rosario, or Gibson or Royce Lewis either. If a season falls apart because of a player or two not living up to expectations, then you didn't put together a good enough team. 

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FWIW I'm still on the Buxton train.

 

I can understand the skepticism. His defense has been elite since he stepped onto the field, but aside from an insanely hot July though September of 17' he's oscillated between atrocious and below average at the plate. I'm not sure I'd call Hicks a superstar but he's certainly better than Buxton at this moment. Honestly, if we're picking a team for only next year, is anybody choosing Buxton to start in CF ahead of Hicks? Each player may have broken out in 17' but Hicks followed that season up with an even better one while Buxton reverted back to a player who looked clueless with a bat in his hands. Maybe (hopefully) last season can be chalked up to injuries & mishandling, and Buxton bounces back similarly to Hicks. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm not sure what the relevance of Buxton vs Hicks in 2019 to the discussion. Hicks is four years older and in his prime. Plus, he began his career at 23. Buxton debuted at age 21. Not being snarky, just saying that I don't get that part.

As you are still on the Buxton train, I think we probably agree that in the big picture, Buxton compares well with Hicks. I agree with Nick that it isn't even close.  Buxton regressed in his fourth season, but so did Hicks. Hicks WAR after four seasons was 2.0. Buxton is at 6.9, and Hicks was two years older at the time.

I'm with you on it being questionable to call Hicks a superstar. His 4.7 WAR last year was impressive but when Buxton put up a 5.2 war in 2017, I think the general consensus was that he looked like a budding superstar.

Anyway, an interesting post on an interesting article.  

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Keep the faith! To give up on Buxton now is foolish. The Twins should be all in on Buxton. Nice comparisons to Hicks. Let's also not forget the Twins traded Hicks for John Ryan Murphy.

Give him all the chances he needs.  Worst case is he's a nice 4th outfielder.  Continue to improve the quality of your depth, like we did with Cave.  

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I'm with you on it being questionable to call Hicks a superstar.

He went to the Yanks in 2016 and was terrible, in 2017 he played all of 88 games, last year he managed to play 137 and was really, really good. But I am not ready to call him a super star.

And lets be honest most wanted him gone in 2015 and if he would have played the same for the Twins 2016 as he did the Yanks, we would have been screaming for him to be gone.

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I remain convinced that the single, biggest difference between the Twins being legitimate contenders and rebuilding is Byron Buxton, because of the difference he makes on defense. And when his bat is going well he scares the hell out of teams because of his speed. 

 

So I'd be OK with an extension. Not my money. 

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In a perfect world, it would be great, to agree on a long term deal. He is going to be a star for years. And I think it will happen soon. But, would it be the right decision for Byron? The Twins don’t play in a perfect world. They play in Minnesota. He seems to be a nice, hard working, quiet young gentlemen. If he gets a large contract, some fans will boo every strikeout. Some media members will question his manhood, with every injury. Every shortcoming on the team will be blamed on his salary. We can call it “being Mauered”. The FO needs to mend bridges. Buxton Needs to beware.

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In a perfect world, it would be great, to agree on a long term deal. He is going to be a star for years. And I think it will happen soon. But, would it be the right decision for Byron? The Twins don’t play in a perfect world. They play in Minnesota. He seems to be a nice, hard working, quiet young gentlemen. If he gets a large contract, some fans will boo every strikeout. Some media members will question his manhood, with every injury. Every shortcoming on the team will be blamed on his salary. We can call it “being Mauered”. The FO needs to mend bridges. Buxton Needs to beware.

Wait... What? Minnesota isn't perfect? The sun's almost shining, the temp is just a few degrees north of zero and the wind is howling out of the northwest. And it's only November. No way Minnesotans are fair weather fans... we wouldn't know what to do with any stinkin' fair weather.

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