The re-emergence of Minnesota Twins CF Byron Buxton
By Tyler Kruse
The Minnesota Twins are back and better than they’ve been in nearly a decade thanks to strong contributions from top to bottom throughout the organization including gold-glove center fielder Byron Buxton.
At this point in the season, there doesn’t really seem to be a “bottom” for the Minnesota Twins. The new guys are hitting, the pitching staff is dominating, and some familiar faces have decided they’d also like to make their presence felt this season. One of those faces is Byron Buxton. Yes, the same Buxton that plays center-field with reckless abandon and is, in the eyes of many, the fastest man in major league baseball.
Byron, like the majority of those who are blessed to be able to play baseball at the highest level, has had his fair share of struggles. Most of it can be attributed to inconsistent at-bats and the inability to stay in the line-up. The injury bug has also plagued Buxton for the majority of his career.
Great players find ways to get it done
This past off-season was a big one for Buxton, he added a ton of muscle and worked on himself for hours on end throughout the off-season, the results prove that. He was believed to have gained somewhere in the ballpark of 20 pounds of muscle while finding ample time to adjust his swing. From leg kick to no leg kick, Buxton has made many small adjustments that have improved his sight at the plate.
Baseball is not an easy sport – between the long season and road trips, it can become grueling. Having fun is one of the most important aspects of the game and the Twins of 2018 looked deflated. I’m sure it was an important season for many young players in the organization with one of them being Buxton. You can see it in the way he plays, how badly he wants to be out there, and even in his post-game interviews, he’s having fun again.
The proof is in the pudding
Having nearly double the at-bats he had last season, “Buck” is slashing .259/.317/.500 on the year. While those numbers won’t blow anyone away, they don’t have to. Why? Buxton has one job – to be the best center fielder since one of my all-time favorites – Torii Hunter. If he continues to get on base, steal bases, and play a gold-glove caliber center field position, he’s doing more than enough.
Though 9 stolen bases isn’t exactly eye-popping, he already has 19 doubles, tied for his career high when he had 19 in 132 more at-bats in 2016. Your run-of-the-mill line drive single can easily be turned into a double thanks to his incredible speed. A piece of his game overlooked by many is the cannon he has from center-field. Reaching nearly triple digits on some throws to home plate this season, no runner is safe when Buxton fields the ball cleanly in center, plants, and fires.
Asking Byron to hit 40 homers a season isn’t realistic and frankly shouldn’t be his focus. Maybe we can ask him to play a little less carefree in center field, but where’s the fun in that? Here’s to you Byron Buxton, stay healthy and stay hungry. We all know what you’re capable of when we see your name in the line-up.