There is no question that if MLBbros Mookie Betts (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Aaron Judge (New York Yankees) weren’t on iconic teams in huge markets, Byron Buxton would be on the short list of being the most popular player in baseball. Even though he plays for a small market team in the Minnesota Twins, he is still considered one of the most dynamic players in the sport.
Our MLBbro possesses the rare quality of being a dominant two-way player with his combination of power and speed that is illustrated in the field and at the dish. He is box office material that brings fans to the seats. The difference between this year and the past is that fans see his talents on a more consistent basis.
MLBbro.com covered a tense situation where the Twins had plans to use Buxton on a schedule to save his body from knee patella tendonitis while preparing for a postseason run, upsetting the fans. A scenario the franchise had to consider based on the fact that he played more than 92 games once in his career back in 2017.
Now that Minnesota is currently in first place in the AL Central, it’s no real coincidence that part of the reason has been Buxton has been in the lineup for the most of the season with production that has been under the radar with Aaron Judge dominating the headlines.
If Byron can stay healthy, can he carry his team to a World Series championship? Something that MLB.com asked him recently.
“I haven’t really thought about that,” Buxton said. “It’s more of the thought process of, you play what you need to play and the numbers are going to be there. Just go out and play ball. I’m not worried about, ‘Can I stay healthy?’ It’s, ‘How can we get deep into the playoffs and get to the World Series?’ Not trying to look too far ahead, but we have that team that can do that, and we’re still getting better.”
Not that Buxton didn’t make adjustments to his approach to expedite the process. He made interesting tweaks with his off the field preparation, batting philosophy and changing his mindset of protecting his body in the smallest details on the field.
With the 100-110 game plan that the franchise has for our MLBbro this season, Buxton does his part in the process to prepare his body for the rigors of the long season as he laid out in detail on MLB Network.
Our MLBbro has taken his game to the next level by detailed preparation and mindset changes. Off the field, he started using a hot tub to prepare his body for the wear and tear of the long baseball season.
He carried that attention to detail to the diamond by cutting out running full speed for potential groundouts or sacrificing his body for spectacular catches. Understanding the importance of staying in the lineup has impressed his teammates.
Carlos Correa spoke on the important changes that will help in the long run.
“There’s hustling, and there’s fake hustle,” Correa said. “A ground ball to the pitcher where he’s just going to flip it to first and you go 4.0 or 4.1 seconds to first, that’s just fake hustle. There’s no need for that.
“For him, the thing I [speak] to most is that I’d rather see a ball hit off the wall for a double than you go on the IL for two months because you crashed into it. Just playing smart. Just knowing how important he is for this lineup and how important he is for this club, he’s been doing a really good job with that. So he gets it. He understands it. He’s close to every day now, as the DH or center field which is what we need from him.”
At the plate, our MLBbro has changed his batting style to be more of a line drive hitter as opposed to trying to use the entire field with a “slap the ball around…making contact” philosophy. That change has increased his slugging percentage over his first four years.
This is a very important era not just for Byron Buxton, but the Minnesota Twins as well. This is the first season of the seven year, $100 million extension that was signed off on recently. The risk and reward of keeping Buxton healthy is the litmus test on if the money is well spent leading to a World Series title or becoming one of the biggest “What ifs?” in recent MLB history.