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.
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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.