Byron Buxton is the Minnesota Twins’ best overall player, and the team should enjoy their star player’s red-hot play as long as it lasts.
Picture this: It’s the end of the 2020 season. The Minnesota Twins have finished the season 41-19, mowing down other teams en route to the best record in the league. This all takes place behind the bat and glove of the Twins’ MVP winner Byron Buxton.
Before the season, that would have seemed ridiculous. The Twins very well could win 40 games, and no one would really be surprised. But Byron Buxton winning any award more than a gold glove? That seems a bit much. Just 19 games into the season, that doesn’t seem as ridiculous anymore.
Over the past seven games, Buxton has hit better than any other Twins player, and it really hasn’t been close. The change is clearly evident in his stat line. Here’s what his line looked like before August 4th vs. August 4th and beyond:
- Before 8/4: 6 G, .067 BA/.118 OBP/.067 SLG/.185 OPS, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 6 SO
- After 8/4: 9 G, .406 BA/.406 OBP/.906 SLG/1.312 OPS, 1 2B, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 8 SO, 1 SB
If you’re wondering what his line looks like now, here it is:
- Current Stat Line: 15 G, .298 BA/.306 OBP/.723 SLG/1.029 OPS, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 1 BB, 14 K, 1 SB, 1.1 WAR
Outside of his below average walk and strikeout numbers, that’s a really good stat line. The best part? He’s in the top four of almost every category for the Twins:
- BA: 3rd
- OBP: 7th
- SLG: 1st
- OPS: 2nd
- HR: T-2nd
- RBI: 4th
- SB: T-1st
- WAR: 1st
That WAR number is especially good, as it proves he’s the most valuable player on one of baseball’s best teams. His WAR of 1.1 also currently sits at 7th best in the league. If the Twins catch fire and Buxton stays this hot, there’s absolutely no limit to how good this team could be.
Buxton is this team’s franchise player. When he’s on the field, the Minnesota Twins are substantially better and win way more games. The struggles the team has when he isn’t healthy are well documented. Buxton’s defensive skill allows his teammates to play their own positions better, because they know if it’s anywhere near Buxton, he’s got it in the bag, and that’s really important.
Prior to this season, Buxton took far too many risks, and the Twins wanted to fix that. It’s helped a lot, as Buxton has only missed four games this season, while still being one of the 10 defenders in all of baseball.
If this does continue, that Buxton MVP shouldn’t be too far off. I know it’s an ambitious goal, and recency and east coast biases will hurt his case, but the offensive pace he’s on is elite, and that defense alone earned him 18th place in MVP voting in 2017. It’s a long shot, but not completely out of the question.
The Byron Buxton we are seeing right now is one of the best we have ever seen. He’s playing exactly like we thought he would when he was baseball’s best prospect. We all just have to hope and pray it continues, and the Minnesota Twins should enjoy this ride for as long as possible.