It’s hard to believe it’s been six years since Byron Buxton made his Major League Debut. But since then, the Twins’ former top prospect has dealt with injury after injury. Buxton played more than 100 games in a season only once in his career (2017). Buxton came into 2021 healthy and he’s started out this season on fire!
Through eight games, Buxton is hitting .481/.548/1.185 with 5 home runs already! He leads the MLB in slugging percentage and OPS! Those are some eye-popping results so far, but what jumps out to me is some of the data that backs up his killer start at the plate. Buxton has an average exit velocity of 98.2 mph this season! Only Aaron Judge and Manny Machado have higher average exit velos thus far!
So he’s hitting the ball really hard, but what about quality of contact? Well, only Buxton’s teammate Nelson Cruz has a higher percentage of barrels/plate appearance so far in the whole MLB! Cruz is also the only player in the league with a higher xwOBA than Buxton. This means not only is he hitting for both power and average, he’s not getting lucky and deserves the really good results he’s getting.
If you’ve paid attention to Buxton in previous years, he’s always had speed and elite defensive ability. His sprint speed grades out as the third fastest in the MLB this year behind only Trea Turner and Tim Locastro! Defensively, in his only season with 100+ games played he led the league in outs above average and earned a gold glove.
The questions for Buxton have never been his speed, athletic, or defensive ability. It’s been health and hitting- which may be more of a lack of consistent at-bats. But he’s started 2021 with some scary good numbers he’s shown to start the year and add in gold glove defense and incredible speed and you can see a potential superstar!
He’s a treat to watch and we could be witnessing the beginning of a massive breakout for Buxton. Buxton’s confidence is continuing to grow each game and so is the confidence of Twins’ manager Rocco Baldelli, who recently moved Buxton up to the cleanup spot. I’m really enjoying watching a healthy Buxton fill some of that massive potential he had coming up as a prospect.