With the Gold Glove finalists released this week, it brings to mind the highlights of the Minnesota Twins star center fielder
The Minnesota Twins saw dramatic defensive improvement as a team in 2017, and a lot of that can be attributed to the elite play of center fielder Byron Buxton anchoring the outfield defense. His season had plenty of highlights on defense and offense, and it was a fun rabbit hole to begin looking at them all, so we thought that you may enjoy sharing these moments as well!
And that was how Buxton opened 2017. Twice on opening day in Kansas City, he laid out for balls well in front of him, making spectacular plays, coming up with the catch both times. That sent Ervin Santana to a win, and it sent the Twins to an opening day win, part of 4 wins in a row to open the season and set the pace for 2017.
During the rest of the season, I could seriously write for days on all the highlights, so I viewed a handful of the compilation videos available on YouTube and selected the best one that highlighted the incredible collection of defensive plays Buxton made. One of the things that still impresses me is to hear rival fans already talk about how much they love AND hate Buxton because he’s so exciting to watch, rarely is a jerk to anyone on the field, but he frequently ends up doing something in the game that hurts their favorite team’s chances to win the game. That sort of begrudging fandom is a huge sign of just how far Buxton has come as a player in his short time in the league.
While Buxton is an elite defender in many aspects, the one area of his defensive profile that he received lower scouting grades for as a prospect coming up was his arm. Even in his “weak” area of defense, he can bust out a highlight play – against the best player in the game, no less (2016 highlight, but still fun to watch)!
To close out the season, Buxton smashed into the wall against the Yankees in the Wild Card game, giving everything he had to once again make a dramatic catch and help to keep the Twins alive in the game at the time he made the grab. He actually played for a bit with injured ribs after making this dramatic catch before eventually giving way to Zack Granite.
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On the final day of 2016, Buxton hit a leadoff inside-the-park home run that set a record in the Statcast system for the fastest time from home to home in the time that system had been in place. That really should have been an indication of the type of year that we were about to witness in 2017, where Buxton would explode with speed that was unmatched by a right-handed hitter in the game.
He announced that truly elite level of speed in a series in July against Baltimore on back to back days. On July 6th, Buxton was on first when a standard ground ball to first was hit, typically a 3-6-3 double play. Not typical when Byron Buxton is on base:
The next day, he was again on first base when a routine single to center field was hit. An average runner is on second base. A very good runner makes it to third base. Buxton is more than “very good”:
Then, because his time wasn’t quite good enough last season, Buxton decided to best his record on the inside the park speed in an August game against Arizona in front of his home crowd.
On top of all of this, Buxton set a Minnesota Twins organization record for consecutive stolen bases this season.
Just in case you were worried – he does know how to hit them out of the park as well!
I hope you enjoyed this as much as we did!