Byron Buxton’s Stats May Be Misleading

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The Minnesota Twins had high expectations entering the 2021 season, now approaching mid-May; the team sits fourth in the division with a 12-21 record. However, despite the disappointing start for the Minnesota Twins, the team is witnessing another Byron Buxton mini-breakout, but this year there is more hype surrounding the 27-year-old who seems to be on an upwards projection offensively since 2019. Byron Buxton’s stats in 2021 show a .370/.408/.772 slash-line with a 226 wRC+ through 98 plate appearances, hit nine home runs, while also swiping five bases over the team’s first 24 games.

Byron Buxton’s stats and tools as a prospect labeled as a five-tool outfielder with superstar potential written all over him. Before the beginning of the 2021 season, Buxton struggled with health and consistency in the batter’s box But has been one of the league’s best outfield defenders with a DRS (defensive runs saved) +54 since which ranks 9th among outfielders since 2015.

This isn’t the first time we are seeing something like this from Buxton as a hitter, who has put up a wRC+ over 100 the last two seasons. But those two seasons together only account for 430 plate appearances for Buxton who has appeared in 100+ games only once in his seven-year career, which is where the numbers for Buxton are almost hard to project given the injury history.

Byron Buxton’s Stats: Bat is On Fire

Buxton’s 2021 season has already hit a minor blockage, with Buxton hitting the 10-day IL with a hip strain and will be out for multiple weeks. But before this unfortunate IL stint, Buxton was hitting the ball as hard as he ever has and up until this poorly timed Il stint, Buxton’s batted ball metrics all across the board were atop the league.

Despite what Byron Buxton stats show, Buxton carries arguably one of the highest power/speed combination upside in all of baseball. Buxton through 2021 unsurprisingly was seeing a career-low zone rate of 46%, but with seeing fewer pitches in the Zone Buxton has improved his chase rate lowering it to 36% (down from 45% in 2020). When Buxton is making contact the speedy outfielder sits atop the league leader-boards with a career-high barrel rate of 21% and an average exit velocity of 94 MPH (also a career-high). Buxton in 24 games had 30 batted balls over 100+ mph before this IL stint.

Chart Source; Baseball-Savant

It’s almost like Buxton hit a wall at the end of the 2018 season, but the type of wall he hops over and has shown intriguing improvements in his expected stats. Buxton never finished a season with an xwOBA over .300 before 2019 and also hasn’t seen his strikeout rate in the 29% range where it had previously been, instead only reaching 26.7% in 2020. since 2019, Buxton has a .280/.319/.578 slash-line over 528 plate appearances, while hitting 32 home runs and stealing 21 bases.

Over a full season, Buxton is more than capable of the counting stats, with the hard-hit adjustments for Buxton that slash-line is achievable but only if he can do it over the course of a full season while trying his best to void injuries that have plagued him thus far.

Is It Legit?

When the Minnesota Twins have Buxton back in the lineup, Buxton will try to overcome some of the unknowns around Buxton’s consistency. Although Buxton’s high whiff rates haven’t gone away, he has managed to lower his strikeout rate since the end of 2018 and his strikeout rate has been below the 29% mark only reaching 26.7% in 2020. Byron Buxton’s stats as far as his plate discipline goes may never be elite. One could look at the 2020 season and say, Buxton was the stereotypical “what if” for players swinging more cause of a shortened season, Buxton finished 2020 with a BB% of 1.5% and saw his 50.6% career swing rate absolutely skyrocket up to 64.3%.

The major calling for Buxton’s success is how hard he is hitting the ball and that is no secret. The previously mentioned climb post-2018 has been impressive and to many has largely gone under the radar. The swing and miss rate is still in question, but with how he connects with the ball, Buxton could fairly easily crush the worries and the Byron Buxton stats could see him as a 30-30 threat with his sky-high potential.

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Murray is a college student attending Humber College for Sport Business, can be found on Twitter at @_MurrayBrown