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Friday, August 18, 2017

Twins Byron Buxton evolving as a hitter | MLB.com

If Buxton never learns how to hit, the glove alone—depending on your metric, he’s one of the best outfielders in baseball along with Ender Inciarte and Mookie Betts—makes him useful. If he’s a league-average hitter, he’s a star. If Buxton is actually the dangerous hitter we saw last September and are seeing now, the sky is almost literally the limit.

We’re a long way from that, of course. Buxton is only 23. He’s been poor at the plate more this year than he’s been an asset. But when a player has all the tools, you’re just looking for signs that the talent is breaking through. We are most certainly seeing those signs from Buxton.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 18, 2017 at 08:02 AM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: byron buxton, twins

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   1. Tim D Posted: August 18, 2017 at 02:02 PM (#5516260)
Buxton is the essence of streaky, looks totally lost at times, but I gotta think with all that talent he will become a decent hitter.
   2. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: August 18, 2017 at 02:06 PM (#5516265)
If Buxton is actually the dangerous hitter we saw last September and are seeing now, the sky is almost literally the limit.

50 at-bats of empty batting average is all we're seeing now.
   3. Tim D Posted: August 18, 2017 at 02:21 PM (#5516278)
.321/.383/.472 since the ASB is decidedly not empty batting average.
   4. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 18, 2017 at 02:39 PM (#5516295)
   5. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: August 18, 2017 at 02:51 PM (#5516306)
Since the All-Star Break? *snort* Yeah, gotta make sure to get that one good game before his DL stint on there.

Anyway, call "high batting average with peripherals that are considerably below average" whatever the #### you want. "Dangerous" it is not.

   6. Khrushin it bro Posted: August 18, 2017 at 03:13 PM (#5516328)
the sky is almost literally the limit.


How could something be almost literally? Isn't that a yes or no type thing?
   7. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: August 18, 2017 at 03:30 PM (#5516345)
Damn, and he's 21 for 22 on stolen base attempts? Not shabby at all.

In his last 300 PAs he's hitting .263/.336/.375. That, with that glove, and that baserunning, is an All-Star player. And even if that's just a fluke, he's already shown that everything else in his game is so amazing that he can be an everyday player even with an OPS below .600.
   8. akrasian Posted: August 18, 2017 at 03:34 PM (#5516348)
So if Buxton can keep putting up the .405 BABiP he has since the all star break, he's a dangerous hitter?

Yes, if he can keep up an unsustainable pace in that, he'll be dangerous - despite not showing all that much power.

The question is, can he do enough with the bat on a consistent basis to be a good player? He has the defense and speed, so he doesn't need to be a dangerous hitter - but he can't be the disaster he was in the first half and merit a roster spot, at least as a starter.
   9. Tim D Posted: August 18, 2017 at 03:46 PM (#5516362)
"but he can't be the disaster he was in the first half and merit a roster spot, at least as a starter."

He's at 3.0 WAR even with that terrible first half. A .700 OPS will keep him in the starting lineup for a long, long time. Of course that would be a disappointment considering the potential star the Twins thought they had, but still a good player. And I still think he will break out, although I agree 63 PA is nothing to get worked up about. But it's not just a bunch of bloop singles.
   10. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 18, 2017 at 03:53 PM (#5516371)
How could something be almost literally? Isn't that a yes or no type thing?

These days, it's a yes and yes type thing.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: August 18, 2017 at 05:53 PM (#5516466)
It's hard to say what the literal literal meaning of "the sky's the limit" would be anyway. It would mean he's a commercial jetliner that can go really high but can't get into outer space?
   12. Walt Davis Posted: August 18, 2017 at 06:17 PM (#5516485)
FWIW, we've already seen a player like this "dangerous" Buxton. His name is Ichiro. He will be going to the HoF and, if he'd played his whole career in the US, he'd probably be impressively high on the hits leaderboard, he didn't re-write the record books or anything like that.

To be this "dangerous" Buxton on a regular basis, all Buxton needs to do now is raise his career BA by 100 points. I wish him the best of luck.

The encouraging bit about this short stretch is that he's been K'ing under 25% of the time which would be a big step in the right direction from his career 32%. But he's got to improve it or his ISO a lot more if he expects to be a productive hitter.

Also +20 Rfield in 2/d of a season is the sort of number we used to mock DRS for producing ... especially if it came from a guy who previously had average about +8 over a full season (still a small sample for Buxton). He's not going to be projected to add 20-30 runs on defense, probably more in the 5-10 range.

I don't see the guy so I'm asking this honestly -- is there any reason to think he's more than Corey Patterson? Patterson also had tons of talent, played strong defense (Rfield seems to have soured a bit) but K'd like no tomorrow, didn't walk and had decent power but not nearly enough to make up for the other offensive flaws. Patterson had a couple of pretty good years mixed in there but in the end was 10 WAR, -5 WAA. Buxton definitely draws more walks but also Ks a lot more. He also looks a lot like Billy Hamilton (Buxton has more power but also more Ks). He's got a long way to go to catch up to Inciarte.
   13. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 18, 2017 at 06:45 PM (#5516501)
I don't see the guy so I'm asking this honestly -- is there any reason to think he's more than Corey Patterson? 

The comparison I keep making in my head is Carlos Gomez. The K% is different but part of that can be chalked up to the different environments. The age/development tracks fairly well through 22 in that they were both great gloves with tons of tools and terrible offensive production.

Of course, it took Gomez a long time to learn how to hit and his career path is pretty odd so I'm not sure how likely it is that Buxton ends up following in his footsteps.
   14. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 18, 2017 at 08:57 PM (#5516588)
To be this "dangerous" Buxton on a regular basis, all Buxton needs to do now is raise his career BA by 100 points. I wish him the best of luck.
We had this exact same conversation towards the end of last season. Buxton hit .287/.357/.653 in his last 113 PAs last September, 50 more PAs than he's had since the ASG. He's young and he's athletic, but we've seen a lot of athletic high-ceiling prospects cover a lot of OF grass, never hit, and then journeyman themselves out of the league before they're 30. He's had chunks of three seasons in the bigs. We should be seeing something more with his offense by now beyond just being a taller Billy Hamilton.
   15. Tim D Posted: August 18, 2017 at 09:01 PM (#5516591)
He reminds me of Devon White.
   16. DaVoice of DaPeople Posted: August 18, 2017 at 09:47 PM (#5516625)
Buxton's biggest split might be the most useful--

Last 365 days: .247/.318/.413 in 459 PAs. (That's an OPS+ of about 95.) 16 homers, 22 steals in 24 attempts. 140 Ks, 41 BBs. .335 BABIP.

If that's who he is, that's a very good player.
   17. PreservedFish Posted: August 18, 2017 at 10:17 PM (#5516658)
How could something be almost literally? Isn't that a yes or no type thing?


Suppose that, for example, you were obsessed with a grey porpoise. It would almost literally be your white whale.
   18. DavidFoss Posted: August 18, 2017 at 10:21 PM (#5516665)
Good game tonight. 3B, IPHR, 2B

Its just the sixth inning. He was running awfully fast on the 3B and HR.
   19. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 19, 2017 at 10:23 AM (#5516805)
I still think he peaks around 270/330/420 and makes a couple ASG. Similar player to Devo or Mike Cameron, neither of which did anything in the MLB before they were 24.
   20. PreservedFish Posted: August 19, 2017 at 11:02 AM (#5516811)
That seems pessimistic. ZiPS right now predicts him for .250/.310/.420, at 23 years old. Of course you're talking about 40-50 WAR players, so, that would still be excellent.
   21. ReggieThomasLives Posted: August 19, 2017 at 12:50 PM (#5516827)
We had this exact same conversation towards the end of last season. Buxton hit .287/.357/.653 in his last 113 PAs last September, 50 more PAs than he's had since the ASG. He's young and he's athletic, but we've seen a lot of athletic high-ceiling prospects cover a lot of OF grass, never hit, and then journeyman themselves out of the league before they're 30. He's had chunks of three seasons in the bigs. We should be seeing something more with his offense by now beyond just being a taller Billy Hamilton.


Those three partial seasons have been at age 21, age 22, and now at age 23. Are 23 year old hitters usually done developing?

The problem with Buxton is that he was a top draft pick, and struggling in the majors at age 21/22 was disappointing for a prospect of his pedigree. But he's been worth 5 WAR over his last 192 games, it hasn't all been a one month BABIP surge or a fluke partial defensive season. Right now he's basically Ender Inciarte, with the potential to become Jason Heyward. That's not the Griffey the Third many expected on draft day, but still a good to very good player.
   22. Tim D Posted: August 19, 2017 at 01:05 PM (#5516831)
These kids get compared to the top 1% of players when they are 18-19 years old. Griffey was an All-Star at 20. We knew by 2014 that Buxton was going to have a more normal career path. He's been rushed because the Twins stink and his glove is other-worldly. They are doing the right thing batting him 8th and letting his skills develop. He's going to be a very good player. It's just a question of how good. That IPHR last night was one of the more fun things I have seen all year.
   23. Bote Man Posted: August 19, 2017 at 01:27 PM (#5516840)
Plus, those hits last night were all of the standup variety, which means he almost literally was flying around the bases.
   24. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 19, 2017 at 01:59 PM (#5516864)
Those three partial seasons have been at age 21, age 22, and now at age 23. Are 23 year old hitters usually done developing?
No, but I'd expect him to some development beyond one hot month here or there. His numbers for the season are up because Buxton's been great since July, but before then it was three months that added up to a .552 OPS. That's why I pointed to last season, when he had an even longer stretch of even better production, and then still gave us the first three months this year.

We differ on Buxton for the same reason we differed on some other players. I just think his defensive metrics are doing all the heavy lifting here and I don't trust defensive numbers the way I do offensive ones. Buxton's obviously a spectacular defender but — for example — I don't think he's saved twice as many defensive runs (20) as Inciarte in over 200 fewer innings, or six more than Kevin Pillar in over 200 fewer innings.

Right now he's basically Ender Inciarte, with the potential to become Jason Heyward. That's not the Griffey the Third many expected on draft day, but still a good to very good player.
I'd take that, we all would out of a 23-year-old. I'd leave him out there if I had him, but I wouldn't be a nickel on what his offense will look like next season.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: August 19, 2017 at 10:33 PM (#5517144)
The lines in #16 and #20 are a lot better than I'd have expected and play just fine in CF, especially with good defense too.

The chances are probably better than my instincts suggested. For 1993+, players with at least 600 PA through age 23, OPS+ <90, SB >=20. That's 30 players and some are pretty good including likely HoFer Beltran. HoVG types like Damon and Furcal are here along with plenty of solid players -- or at least players who had a nice 3-5 year run at some point. There are even a few guys with a lower OPS+ than Buxton that managed to find a way towards a 100 OPS+ -- Luis Castillo, Gomez, Cristian Guzman (sorta).

Buxton is 19th by OPS+ and dead last by BA. Gomez does look like the best successful comp.

A couple appear to have been done but 17 of the 27 put up at least 8 more WAR (Patterson), 8 of them produced at least 20 WAR going forward. I missed Jimmy Rollins in my earlier HoVG list and Cliff Floyd was a name I was surprised to see on the first list.

Given the prospect pedigree, we have to give him some chance of becoming Beltran or Damon and a pretty good chance of becoming Gomez (22 WAR), Kotsay (17) or "at least" Chris Young (a sneaky 16 WAR). Pierre is also here at 13 WAR but it seems unlikely Buxton will become a 291 hitter. There are a number of flops but most weren't such good fielders -- the best flop comp is probably Willy Taveras. There's Billy Hamilton but he's up to 5 WAR and counting for ages 24-26 and will probably make it to at least 8 WAR post-23.

I think we all agreed that you keep playing him until the conclusion that he'll never hit is unavoidable (and then he'll turn into Jose Bautista) and these numbers reinforce that even more. He's got a very good shot to put up at least 3 average or better seasons going forward. That would be a disappointment but it's not going to hurt anything and then you'd flip him or wait for him to go FA.

The Chris Young comp seems particularly encouraging. Very much a TTO hitter from day one, he didn't put up good numbers until ages 26-27. Then, kinda oddly, coming off two 5-WAR seasons, everybody apparently decided he should be limited to a platoon/4th OF type. Unlike Young, so far Buxton hits RHP better.

That does look really weird. At 26-27, Young put up 10.4 WAR. A lot of that was defense but it was still 6 oWAR too. A former top prospect (#8/#12 pre-2007) finally becomes an above-average player and everybody decides he's not a starting-quality player anymore. They seem to have gotten it right -- he was quite good again at 28 in a half-season and since then has been a standard 1-WAR/650 bench player. He did miss a month early at age 28 but seemed to come back fine -- then something happened as he had just one start (lasting one inning) after Sept 3 but made plenty of PH appearances.
   26. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 20, 2017 at 12:58 PM (#5517267)
Also +20 Rfield in 2/d of a season is the sort of number we used to mock DRS for producing ... especially if it came from a guy who previously had average about +8 over a full season (still a small sample for Buxton). He's not going to be projected to add 20-30 runs on defense, probably more in the 5-10 range.

UZR has him at +8 so far this season (+12/150). That seems way more plausible.

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