The Minnesota Twins continue to take the right steps with Byron Buxton, mostly


The Minnesota Twins have had to make another tough decision with one of their promising young stars, but what is going on with Byron Buxton?

The Minnesota Twins have failed to put a winning product on the field in 2018 because of the stumbling of several key players. Miguel Sano has been the lightning rod for the majority of criticism but next in line is Byron Buxton.

Buxton is finally fully healthy after landing on the disabled list twice this season. First with migraines and secondly with a fractured big toe sustained while on a rehab stint for his migraines. What came as a bit of a shock to many is that Buxton was recently activated and then optioned to Triple-A Rochester before he had used all of his available rehab days.

Back when Buxton started his rehab stint, a positive sign was that the Twins were willing to send him out without any timetable for his return to the majors. Allowing for Buxton to take his time as he gets his feel back at the plate. This move takes that a step further and much like Sano will allow Buxton a reset of sorts to get things at the plate right. Even after a very good second half of 2017, there are clearly still some improvements that Buxton can make.

Since Buxton started playing games in Rochester there have been a few flashes of excitement, but overall continued struggles at the plate. In 14 games, Buxton is hitting .204/.271/.370 with a .642 OPS, two home runs, and three doubles. What may be most concerning is that he has 21 strikeouts and only four walks.

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Now strikeouts are a part of present-day baseball, but Buxton is sitting on a concerning extreme.  He needs to find a way to make better contact with the ball in order for him to get on base more often. Not only does Buxton need to strikout less, but an increase in walks would be a positive development for Buxton as well. Until Buxton can turn that aspect of his game around the Twins will have the luxury of leaving him in Triple-A while the major league team is out of contention.

What is even more concerning than just Buxton’s production is what seems to be some sort of organizational disagreement over how Buxton should approach his at-bats. Jake Depue of 1500 ESPN recently caught up with Buxton in Pawtucket and learned a bit about the start to this season for the speedy center fielder. What stood out was the portion of the conversation focused on Buxton’s swing.

It is there we find out that Buxton momentarily brought back his leg kick only to get rid of it again after a few games. Buxton has instead returned to his more stationary approach which served him well last season. Why the back and forth between the different approaches? Was the leg kick an attempt by Buxton to get his feel back or instruction from an organizational standpoint?

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The current front office has always seemed to make the right long-term moves for players. This is one of the first big-picture moves (if it can be called that) by this front office that is concerning. The Twins need a healthy and productive Buxton for this franchise to thrive in the near future. Hopefully, this stint at Triple-A will get the former first-round pick back on track.