Byron Buxton is set to begin his rehab stint in Triple-A St. Paul with the hopes of returning to the Big League club this weekend. Buxton has been seen running at 100 percent. If all goes well, he should return to the Twins’ lineup for their weekend series in Minnesota against Michael Brantley and the Houston Astros.
He will look to reclaim the starting job in centerfield for the American League All-Star team and put his name back in the conversation for Most Valuable Player.
Buxton came out the gate throwing harder haymakers than Ali to begin this season. It seemed he had finally put all five tools together as he hit .370 with nine home runs, 17 RBI and five stolen bases in his first 24 games of the year.
In April, he was awarded the AL Player of the Month Award after batting .426 with a .466 On Base Percentage, eight home runs, 14 RBI, 15 Runs Scored and three steals. He also set Twins’ franchise records for March and April in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS.
His defensive play in centerfield had him on his way to winning the first Gold Glove of his career. On May 6, Buxton hit a grounder to the shortstop in the late innings of what would end up being a loss to the Texas Rangers.
Buxton has always been a hustler as he has beaten out multiple routine plays throughout his career.
This time as Buxton crossed first base it was apparent something was wrong. He did not return to the game and ended up having a Grade 2 right hip strain, which put him on the Injured List for the last 30 games.
His absence has truly shown how valuable Buxton truly is to Minnesota. Buxton had a Wins Above Replacement rating of 2.7 before his injury, good for third in MLB. Marcus Semien, who won the AL Player of the Month for May, is tied with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for first in the American League with a WAR of 3.1.
The Twins were sitting in first before Buxton went down and since then are 13-17 and have fallen into last place, 12 games behind the first-place White Sox in the AL Central.
Buxton is returning just in time to have his name in conversations to be at this year’s All-Star Game next month in Denver. Fan voting determines the starting lineup for each division while the managers decide on the rest of the rosters.
I believe the fans will handle their business and vote Buxton as the centerfield starter despite him missing time with a few injuries this season.
The All-Star Game is a collection of the greatest talent in the sport, and fans will be cheated if they are not able to see Buxton chase down balls in centerfield while hitting home runs out of the launching pad that is Coors Field.
Byron Buxton’s scalding hot bat has no freeze. This video alone shows you how Buxton has the potential to completely wreck a game by turning singles into doubles and being versatile with his hitting approach, able to bash or make contact and utilize his blinding speed.
His Wednesday was something special as he went 5-for-5 and his Minnesota Twins squad, who have the fewest wins in MLB, thrashed Cleveland.
He’s proving to be the total package.
When MLBbro.com told you that the former No. 2 overall pick was looking like an MVP candidate and then referred to MLB Network’s Joel Sherman as the original source of such a proclamation, we got attacked by a couple of trolls who felt it was too early to anoint a guy with a lifetime batting average below .250, as the best player in the game this season.
Fast forward to the 25-game mark and it’s clear to everyone analyzing Buxton’s development that he’s not just on a hot streak. He’s matured as a player. The five-tool athlete with unlimited potential is finally ascending to official superstar status nine years after his Draft Day.
You just never know with baseball.
Coming into Wednesday’s game, Buxton owned a 2021 slash line of .390/.429/.847. Now he’s at an eye-popping.429/.463/.921, and at the moment his eight home runs tie him for the MLB lead.
It’s gotten so legendary for Buxton that people are mentioning him in the same breath as Kirby Puckett, the great Hall of Famer and two-time World Series champion.
Byron Buxton has stamped his name as an early MVP candidate in 2021 and by doing so has shown he is one of the best players in Major League Baseball.
The MLB Network crew were raving about him and metrics master Brian Kenny named Buxton a late bloomer who’s finally escalating towards superstar status.
With the first few weeks of the season behind us, Buxton has flexed the multiplicity of skills that led to him being rated one of the top prospects in baseball since Appling County High School in Baxley, Georgia. Legendary baseball reporter Joel Sherman insisted that even if Buxton didn’t hit, his athleticism, premium defense and speed make him an impactful player.
Now entering his 7th major league season, the former 2012, No. 2 overall pick has shown an impressive display of hitting and power early this season. It’s all coming together.
Let’s call it Buxton in Beast Mode.
His .469 Batting Average is good for 2nd in the major leagues. He has a hit in all 10 games he’s played in this season, including a pinch-hit game-tying home run against the Tigers and a two-hit performance while in a winter wonderland of snow against the Red Sox.
He also leads the league in OPS which is your on-base and slugging percentage combined.
We have seen signs of potential superstardom from Buxton in the past. He’s a human highlight film with the web, putting in serious work with spectacular catches at the wall. Don’t forget, he has a cannon that would make Dave Winfield applaud. There’s nobody really messing with him from first to third.
Injuries have played a major part in Buxton not being able to reach his full potential. Since 2015, he has suffered a list of injuries and missed extensive time, including a 2015 thumb sprain in his rookie year, knee contusion and back spasms in 2016, a groin strain and migraine in 2017, migraines, a fractured toe and sprained wrist in 2018 as well as a concussion and labrum surgery in 2019.
He played in 46, 92, 140, 28 and 87 games in those seasons respectively.
So what changed for Buxton this season? It seemed he figured out some things at the plate in the Covid-shortened 2020 season as he hit .254 with 27 RBI’s and 13 Home Runs and finished with a career-high in slugging percentage. The most home runs he’d ever hit in a full season was 16.
Buck refined his power swing in the off-season and added nearly 15 pounds of muscle by lifting weights multiple times every day. Buxton also made sure that the addition of weight would not take away from his elite speed as he also ran nightly with his high school track coach.
It is good for baseball that Buxton is finally busting out as the definition of a 5 tool player. If he can stay healthy, the rest of the game will come. The potential is limitless whether it be a 40 steals 40 home run season or a somewhat surprising MVP award.
This is looking like the season that 7-year veteran outfielder Byron Buxton finally puts it all together for Minnesota. The multi-tooled player has never lived up to his offensive potential in the eyes of most baseball fans. He’s fast, he has power, but his wicked web game has kept him in the league. Winning a Platinum Glove is no joke.
Two games is not a season make, but after homering in back-to-back games to start the 2021 season, Buxton has certainly built a fan base of respected baseball voices.
“He’s now put power onto his game,” said Joel Sherman on the MLB Network, following Buxton’s clutch jack. “The only thing that was missing last year was patience behind the plate. I think he drew like one or two walks all of last season. If he never draws a walk and gives you power and perhaps the best defense in the game in centerfield, then that combination makes him incredibly valuable. Staying healthy and the ability to get on base a little more turns him into an MVP candidate.”
On Opening Day, Buxton launched a 465-foot moon blast off the scoreboard. It was a “look at me now” flex that raised some eyebrows.
On Saturday night, he smacked another one out that broke up a no-hitter in a 0-0- pitchers duel, giving Minnesota a 1-0 lead in the top of the seventh inning and chasing the Milwaukee Brewers starter into the showers.
Corbin Burns no-hitter over as newly acclaimed power hitter Byron Buxton takes him deep
Buxton has never hit more than 16 homers in a season and has never had a batting average higher than .262, but he always seems one hot streak away from pulling it all together and becoming a next-level force on the field. He did slug a career-high .577 in the 60-game COVID season and finished 16th in the MVP voting, so his performance showed us he was coming.
Maybe this is the year he ascends to an elite level.