It’s no secret that Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was baseball’s consensus number 1 prospect prior to 2014, and was ranked number 1 again before the 2015 season. Buxton, the number 2 pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, had the combination of tools to make him one of the most exciting young players in the league. He could hit for contact and some power, add blazing speed and play excellent defense. Buxton was thought to be “the future” for the Twins.
But, as pitchers became more advanced, they began to exploit Buxton’s biggest weakness inducing massive amounts of strikeout. Buxton struck out in 18 percent of plate appearances at Class-A and Class-A Advanced in 2013, in 19 percent of plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A in 2015, and in over 30 percent of plate appearances since joining the big league club in Minnesota.
The strikeout problem, unfortunately, has suppressed many of Buxton’s other skills. He’s just a career .212/.265/.382 hitter with a 70 wRC+ over 496 plate appearances at the Major League level. Last season, Buxton’s poor start led to a midseason demotion in a year in which many expected him to break-out and showcase his potential.
He returned to the Major League club on September 1 and promptly hit .287/.357/.653 over his final 113 plate appearances, swatting nine home runs and driving 22 RBI. This was the type of performance that the Twins had been waiting for and something that they thought Buxton could build on into 2017. Behind those sparkling numbers, though, were 38 strikeouts and a 34 percent strikeout rate. Doubters questioned whether Buxton was for real.
And, despite the sample size this year, those doubters have been proven correct so far. It’s only been six games, but the strikeouts are still piling up for Buxton. Of his 27 plate appearances, Buxton has struck out in 14 of them – a 52 percent strikeout rate. He’s collected just two hits and is currently the third-worst hitter in the Majors by wRC+ (-52).
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