#MLBPlayers411 | Byron Buxton
High among the reasons the improbable Twins will be playing meaningful games in September with a very real chance of reaching the postseason is the recent offensive emergence of Byron Buxton.
Before being drafted No. 2 overall in 2012, a scout told Sports Illustrated that Buxton was “no doubt one of the best I've ever scouted – maybe the best I've seen in 10 years.”
Yet it's taken a while for the super-talented 23-year-old to get into his offensive flow at the major league level, batting .209 in 129 at-bats in 2015 and .225 in 298 at-bats last season. In fact, he was hitting just .198 entering July.
But despite a two-week interruption at the end of July to let a groin injury mend, the soft-speaking center fielder has been on a tear in the second half. He was batting .349 in July when he was injured and picked up where he left off.
After going 4-for-5 with three homes in the Twins' win on Sunday, Buxton was batting .330 for the month and had raised his 51 points since the beginning of July to .249. Since July 4, he's hit .356 with nine homers and 23 runs batted in.
In total this season, Buxton is batting .249 with 13 home runs and 37 RBIs in 111 games. He is seventh in the American League with 24 steals.
“What you're seeing right now, is the athlete and the athleticism that everybody knew was in there,” hitting coach James Rowson told The Sporting News. Baseball-Reference.com noted today that Buxton's WAR is now up to 4.3 this year, making him the youngest Twins hitter to surpass four since Joe Mauer in 2006.A dual-sport high school athlete from Baxley, a small town in South Georgia, Buxton was known for his speed and athleticism and a fastball that regularly touched the high-90s.
He was ranked as the top prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com in 2015, in addition to the top prospect in the Twins' organization for 2015 and 2016 by Baseball America.
So it seemed like just a matter of time and recently everything has come together for the 6-2,189-pound Buxton.
Buxton was named the AL's Player of the Week for August 21-27. He batted .333 (11-for-33) with five home runs, nine runs scored and 10 RBIs in eight games. His play last week was highlighted by Sunday's three-home run, five-RBI performance in a 7-2 win at Toronto.
Not to be outdone by the recent blistering offensive numbers, Buxton's defensive play has been stellar all season long.
According to Fangraphs, a baseball statistical website, Buxton is third in the major leagues in total defensive runs saved with 23, trailing only Boston's Mookie Betts (27) and the Angels' Andrelton Simmons (24).
"I don't want to say that nothing he does surprises us anymore, but man, he makes so many good plays you kind of get used to it," pitcher Kyle Gibson told MLB.com
“He's just a really impactful guy on our team because of the way he can play defense,” manager Paul Molitor told the Pioneer Press. “I think everyone understands that we're a different team when Byron's out there patrolling center field.”
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