- Buxton has been really pushing his aggression on the basepaths this week -- and the ramp-up in activity caught up to him, when the Twins pulled him during the sixth inning of their 6-2 victory over the Angels as a precaution for tightness around his right knee. Manager Rocco Baldelli said he doesn't expect it to be a long-term issue, and they planned to give Buxton a day of lighter activity in the series finale and hold him out of the starting lineup while they continue to assess his condition.
"It’s just by chance that there’s been this many plays that he’s had to go hard on in a very short period of time," Baldelli said. "It kind of popped up, I think, because of all the running. I don’t want to speculate too much here, but that’s fair to say. He’s been playing a lot of good baseball, he’s been running his [butt] off out there, and it flared up a little bit."
|Birth City:||Baxley, GA|
|Draft:||Twins #1 - 2012 - Out of high school (GA)|
Buxton is from Baxley, Georgia, a Deep South town, population 4,509. Baxley is bisected by US 341 about 100 miles southwest of Savannah, Georgia. It's 30-minute drive from the middle of nowhere. The nearest major airport is two hours south—in Jacksonville, Florida. The nearest hotel is 15 miles away.
Byron began playing when he was 6 years old and played multiple sports for several years. He gave up basketball as a high school sophomore but continued playing football as a quarterback and wide receiver through his senior season. Still, he always knew his future was in baseball.
“I have a lot more fun in baseball,” Buxton says. “I have a passion for it.”
Appling County's baseball field features an open layout with bleachers, room for fans to set their lawn chairs right up against a stone wall backstop, and an expansive concession area complete with a large grill. It could easily be mistaken for a game at a large suburban high school, but the hospitality and fan atmosphere is that of smaller communities—intimate friendliness among the spectators and a strong passion for their team and players.
Buxton grew up three hours southeast of Atlanta in a house off a dirt road and he remains a country boy. His idea of a well-spent Saturday is cutting grass while listening to country music on his headphones, and he tends to put everything into simple terms.
"Just got to hope for the best and work as hard as you can," Byron says.
- Buxton's father, father, Felton, is a truck driver, and his mother, Carrie, runs her own day care. Felton Jr., Byron’s older brother, is an engineer in the Navy. They have a younger sister, Keva, who was born in 2004.
Byron is quiet and speaks slowly as he chooses his words carefully—almost the opposite of the way he plays. He has a real feel for the game. He has a high-waisted, projectable body with plenty of quick-twitch athleticism.
In 2012, Buxton graduated from Appling County High School in Baxley, Georgia, after hitting .513 with 36 stolen bases. He was also quarterback, cornerback, and punter on the football team. He had a scholarship to play wide receiver at the University of Georgia.
But in June, the Twins chose Byron in the first round. And they signed Buxton, via scout Jack Powell, for a $6 million bonus.
Powell gave him an 80—the highest grade on the 20-80 scale—on every skill except power. He has given only one other player such high marks in his 37 years of evaluating player: Josh Hamilton.
- After the 2012 season, Baseball America rated Buxton as the top prospect in the Gulf Coast League.
- In 2013, Baseball America rated Buxton as the second-best prospect in the Twins organization. They moved him to #1 in the winter before 2014 spring camps opened; and he stayed #1 through the spring of 2016.
It's highly unlikely anyone will hear Buxton, known to all as "Bucks," complain about the work needed to succeed at the highest level. Some of that is because he's a quiet young man. Most of it is because Buxton's role model for work ethic has been his father, a big-rig driver who got up in the middle of the night so he could be done with work in time to take his kids to their after-school activities.
"My dad gets up at 1," Buxton said. "My alarm goes off and I think, 'My dad gets up at 1, so I shouldn't complain.' That keeps me motivated to do better."
- March 27, 2013: Buxton coincidentally made his debut in a Twins uniform in an exhibition game late in Spring Training. It was against the player he's most compared to in Pirates star Andrew McCutchen. Twins general manager Terry Ryan said the two players have a similar skill set and so it made sense for Buxton to see McCutchen play in person.
"One of the things we've talked about with him is that he reminds a lot of us of McCutchen,' Ryan said. "So I thought that was ironic. So he'll get a chance to watch McCutchen. It's not like he can't learn from some of our guys like [Aaron] Hicks, but this is an opportunity for him to get some Major League time and at-bats. There is no downside."
Byron has impressed the Twins with his makeup more than anything—just the way he goes about his business, with his maturity on the field and off the field. He's a man on a mission.
He receives coaching info and applies it quickly. He impresses you with his demeanor as much as with his outstanding tools, all of which rate at least a 60 (power) with the rest being 70 or 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. (2013 thru 2016)
AWARDS IN 2013
In 2013, Buxton was named the MVP and Prospect of the Year by the Midwest League.
In 2013, Byron was named the Sherry Robertson Award winner as the Twins Minor League Player of the Year.
In 2013, he was named Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year.
In 2013, Buxton won the 54th annual J.G. Taylor Spinks Award as Topps/Minor League Player of the Year.
Buxton, age 19 at the time, joined Mike Trout (2010), Delmon Young (2005) and Andruw Jones (1996) as the only teenagers who have won the award.
Quiet and still somewhat shy, Buxton is unfailingly polite and has a deep-seated work ethic that is second to none. Byron shows initiative and works hard to improve his overall game.
December 6, 2013: Brix Scott Buxton was born to Lindsey Tillery, Byron's girlfriend of 18 months. Lindsey, a former softball star at Appling County High School, was three years ahead of Buxton at the same school.
"She was pretty popular," he recalled.
The two didn't begin dating until some mutual friends stopped by Buxton's home and made the introduction. A nursing student at Valdosta State University, Lindsey is the one who keeps Buxton focused.
As a grade schooler, Buxton would rise early and light out on the trails surrounding his family’s small house in tiny Graham, Georgia, imitating another country runner—Forrest Gump, the namesake of his favorite movie.
"He’s the best athlete I ever coached,” said Appling County High athletic director and football coach J.T. Pollock. “He made one all-state team as a receiver, made another as a defensive back, and punted for us. There wasn’t anything on the field he couldn’t do. In baseball, I once saw him score from second on a sacrifice fly.
"His junior year, he was playing quarterback for us and we walked out on the field for practice. He was standing on the goal line and somebody said, ‘Hey, Bux, see how far you can throw it.’ He said, ‘OK,’ took a step and cut loose. It went 82 yards. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it myself.
“Just one day, I want to wake up and be Byron Buxton. I’d hit a baseball 450 feet, throw a fastball 97 miles per hour, go to the gym and dunk any way I wanted to dunk, then go over to the football field and make some great catches, punt the ball 50 or 60 yards, throw it 80 yards, and just see how all of that felt.”
When Buxton is on the field, he's the most dynamic player in the Minor Leagues, the top prospect in all of baseball in 2014. He proved that in 2013, surpassing even the highest expectations placed upon the second overall pick in the 2012 draft.
But 2014 brought a new set of challenges for Buxton. He has been injured, re-injured, and set back for four months. Buxton felt lost at the plate, a symptom of the rust he'd accumulated on the disabled list.
"He's the most level-headed kid I've ever been around, and he's the most talented person I've ever been around. He's handling it as good as he possibly can," Fort Myers Miracle manager Doug Mientkiewicz said. "We do everything we can to make him feel as protected as we can, but at the same time, when you're the No. 1 prospect in baseball, there's only so much you can do to keep him away from everything."
Mientkiewicz is mindful of making sure Buxton feels like one of the guys, no easy task given his elite prospect status and the exaggerated media/fan attention that comes with it. (Berry - mlb.com - 7/28/14)
In 2014, Byron spent more time wielding a fishing pole than a baseball bat, when a slew of hard-luck injuries turned into a lost season.
After mornings in rehab at Minnesota's minor league complex in Fort Myers, Florida, he would get into his red pickup, drive a few miles, park along the side of a road, and find a suitable spot next to an irrigation ditch where he'd pursue catfish until the sun set.
Often Buxton's fishing partner was fellow Twins prospect Miguel Sano, a third baseman whose season was cut short with an elbow injury and was also looking for way to while away the hours.
"One day Miguel showed up with four buckets, and I was like, 'What is all that for?" recalled Buxton. "And Miguel went out and caught 35 fish! Man, I'll never forget that day. Of course," Byron added, "we'd have had a lot more fun if we were healthy and at the ballpark.
June 14, 2015: The wait was over. Buxton had his contract purchased by the Twins from Double-A Chattanooga before the game against the Rangers. Buxton, who put on No. 25, said he found out during a team meeting held by Lookouts manager Doug Mientkiewicz.
"Doug brought everybody in the clubhouse and talked to us a little bit and told me I was coming up, and everyone got wild a little bit and excited," Buxton said. "It was an unbelievable moment. It was definitely unexpected. It caught me by surprise and shock. When I heard my name, just a lot of joy and happiness went through me. I'm just blessed to get the opportunity to get called up to The Show."
Buxton said his fiancée, Lindsey, his son, Brix, and his parents will be in attendance at the game at Globe Life Park. Buxton added that he's more excited than anxious to make his Major League debut. (R. Bollinger - MLb.com - June 13, 2015)
Byron didn't even arrive in the Twins' clubhouse until less than four hours before first pitch after his recall from Triple-A Rochester. His car got a flat tire on his way to the airport, and he had to walk three miles to get it serviced.
The Twins are thankful that Buxton got back to Minneapolis in time, because he swatted a three-run homer that capped a five-run rally in the second inning, putting Minnesota ahead for good, as they topped the White Sox, 8-5, at Target Field, finally snapping a season-high 13-game losing streak. (Merkin - MLB.com - 9/2/16)
Despite going on countless trips across the country with his dad growing up, Byron's most memorable drive came when he was barely awake. Buxton, then 7 years old, pleaded with his mother to let him join Felton Buxton one Sunday evening for one of his many trips as a truck driver. The three of them then loaded up the truck and set off for Tennessee from Baxley, Georgia, at 8:00 p.m.
The family returned the following morning after a 12-hour roundabout trip, with his dad driving the whole way and not sleeping for a second. Meanwhile, Buxton slept for approximately eight of those 12 hours.
For Buxton, it exemplified the hard work and determination that is necessary. Especially in a sport like baseball. His dad also taught him to never get too high or low, another key piece of advice in such a fluid game.
"The biggest thing he taught me is staying humble," Buxton said. "I think that allows me to come in here every day, if I had a bad game that allows me to put it behind me and focus on what I have to do to get better that day." Buxton's father has been a big influence on his baseball career, but Buxton says it's the parenting skills he learned that have had an even bigger impact.
Buxton's son Brixton, who is now 3 years old, was born about 18 months after Buxton was selected by the Twins in the 2012 MLB Draft. It practically forced the then-young talented prospect to grow up in a hurry. "It's overwhelming at first," Buxton admitted. "But once you slow down and relax, you realize that you have somebody to take care of. That puts it into perspective, to take things a little more seriously."
The stretches and early work in the batting cages that once seemed monotonous suddenly took precedence. It allowed him to propel through the farm system and finally make a positive impact with the big league club in September 2016. (Jackson - mlb.com - 6/15/17)
Through some of the struggles in 2017, Buxton is consistently one of the first players to participate in early work on the field every day. He has improved his batting average after starting the season with just two hits in his first 29 at-bats.
And even if he does have a bad game from time to time, his harshest critic is also his biggest fan. "If I strike out in a game, when I get home my son, Brixton will say, 'Daddy you struck out today,'" Buxton said. "That allows me to laugh it off. I think that allows me to take pressure off of trying to be somebody that I'm not."
However, when Buxton gets home, his most pressing questions aren't even about his own play. Brixton will often ask how outfielder Max Kepler did on that given day, as the two have grown close during his visits to the clubhouse.
Brixton will make sure to say hello to just about anyone in the clubhouse, even if he doesn't know them. Buxton admitted he sees a lot of himself in his son, but with a more outgoing personality, which is something he stressed to him from day one.
Still, Buxton knows the importance of letting his son be himself, something his father always allowed him to do. He doesn't feel the need to force baseball on him, even though Brixton has already shown the interest. In fact, the two of them will usually go to a local park with a baseball field any time that Buxton is free -- a very familiar scene for Buxton, who made frequent trips with to the local ballpark with his dad growing up.
"Most of the credit would go to him for taking me to the ball field every day to put in the work," Buxton said. "Just the small things that he could have been doing something else, he chose to go with me to the baseball field and help me reach my goal." (Jackson - mlb.com - 6/15/17)
Dec 12, 2018: Byron Buxton was unhappy when the Twins didn't recall him to the Major Leagues following an extended stint in Triple-A to finish a difficult 2018 season -- and he was blunt in expressing those sentiments. "Yes. I ain't sugarcoating nothing," Buxton told the Minneapolis Star Tribune about his displeasure with the decision. "It kind of didn't go over well." The Twins recognized Buxton's need to get those frustrations off his chest in his first public comments regarding the decision, but said that they turned the page on the issue following the season. The organization commended his continued commitment to the Minnesota community after he traveled from his home in Georgia to take part in the Twins' holiday event on Tuesday at the Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare hospital in St. Paul. "I would say, first and foremost, the fact that he's up in Minnesota doing the event that he did -- that he was asked to do and be a part of -- speaks to who he is and what he wants to do moving forward," Twins executive vice president and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said.
Buxton had a hot second half in 2017, hitting .300 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs, and earned the American League's Platinum Glove Award as the league's top defender. But the soon-to-be 25-year-old hit .156/.183/.200 in 28 games in 2018 and was sent on a rehab assignment for a toe injury in late June -- and stayed in Triple-A for the remainder of the season. Because of the center fielder's extended stay in the Minor Leagues, the Twins gained one additional year of team control, pushing Buxton's eligiblity for free agency back until after the 2022 season.
Falvey said that the Twins had exchanged a phone call and text messages with Buxton following the season, and feel "really positive" about the continued development. They've additionally had conversations with Buxton's agents and feel that the conversations are moving in the right direction, as they look ahead to focus on Buxton's continued development and offseason training regimen. The Twins also plan for manager Rocco Baldelli to fly to Georgia to touch base with the center fielder and continue ongoing conversations. "I feel like as soon as Byron gets around his teammates and we get things moving going forward, he's going to be exactly what we expect him to be, and we're going to support him to be the best possible player he can be," Falvey said.
Buxton mentioned to reporters in St. Paul that he expects to have to earn the starting center field job back for the 2019 season, but Twins remain adamant that Buxton's starting role isn't in question. "He's a huge part of our franchise moving forward and I respect the attitude he's taking coming into Spring Training," general manager Thad Levine said. "But in every planning conversation we have, this guy is central to those conversations, and he's featured prominently on this team as the center fielder." (D Park - MLB.com - Dec 12, 2018)
Jan 26, 2019: Target Field's center-field walls might be the worse for wear in 2019, as Byron Buxton showed up for TwinsFest on Friday motivated and focused -- and 21 pounds of muscle heavier. "If I want to play the way that I want to play and run into walls, I've got to have a little bit more cushion," Buxton joked.
Buxton channeled his frustration from a difficult 2018 into a renewed focus during his offseason workouts. Earlier in his career, he didn't emphasize his conditioning to the point he did this offseason, as he figured that his younger body would naturally hold up better on its own. But this offseason, Buxton resolved to put on more weight and fill out his tall frame.
"People tell you to take that frustration as fuel, and that's something that I did, as well, to help me do what I want to do," Buxton said.
The 25-year-old was listed at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds last season, when he struggled with migraines, a lingering left big toe injury and a left wrist issue that limited him to 28 games in the Major Leagues that saw him hit .156/.183/.200. He was expecting to get the call back to the Majors following his recovery, but that call never came, and his free agency was pushed back by a year as a result. In December, he bluntly aired his frustration to local media. But at a certain point during his offseason program, that frustration started to melt away as the progress set in. In fact, Buxton knows he'll lose around 7-10 pounds of his new bulk during Spring Training to hit his playing weight.
"Putting that past me, and once I got that past me, it was more of I could start my excitement, start seeing my happiness, start seeing my progress in what I was doing," he said.
The Twins know that unlocking Buxton and Miguel Sano -- both physically and mentally -- will be the key to any success they have in 2019. The club has closely overseen Sano's intense offseason conditioning to develop the 25-year-old third baseman's body, and Buxton has shown tangible physical results from his focused work. New Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli took a day trip down to Georgia to see Buxton earlier this offseason, where they got a chance to meet and discuss goals for 2019. That also energized the center fielder.
"He didn't have to do that, so just to be able to take the time out of his day to come down there to meet was pretty huge for me," Buxton said. "That sets the tone off on a good foot. As soon as we left, I was ready to get back with him and get things back going. That's the type of vibe I got as soon as he left."
Four years into his Major League career, Buxton has only played in one full season. He's now got new bulk, a new focus on conditioning and largely new coaching and training leadership to guide him. He's excited to see where that leads him on the field. "On a level of 1-10, I'm a 10," he said. "I'm beyond excited to get things back going and see where we are."
"We've always known he could grow and get stronger and become more physical," Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. "He's got such a great frame to build on. I'm excited to see what it brings collectively for him. I think for him the key is, and he knows this, it's about consistency with his swing. It's about things that he needs to do consistently in the box." (DH Park - MLB.com - Jan 26, 2019)
When asked about his wife, Lindsey, and his son, Brixton, Byron said, "That’s my backbone. I know they are my biggest supporters. They have my back no matter what. Just them by my side through the tough times is what really matters. The good times are when we all make those good memories. In the offseason, I get to see them every day. I saw my little boy every day, just seeing him smile is all that matters to me." (Ladson - mlb.com - 4/12/19)
April 12, 2019: Buxton is off to a good start and could be a candidate for the AL Comeback Player of the Year. In a recent sit-down, Buxton talks with MLB.com.
MLB.com: How comfortable are you this season and why?
Buxton: I’m very comfortable. I had a good offseason. I found myself, got back to being myself. That’s the biggest key. You must have the confidence. You have to feel you are able to be yourself. Me being able to be myself, that takes a lot thinking and pressure off me.
MLB.com: How much did your wife and son—I know he is a baby—help you find yourself?
Buxton: Oh, a lot. That’s my backbone. I know they are my biggest supporters. They have my back no matter what. Just them by my side through the tough times is what really matters. The good times are when we all make those good memories. That was huge, especially me going into the offseason. I get to see them every day. I saw my little boy every day, just seeing him smile is all that matters to me.
MLB.com: What did your wife say to you that made you say, “Hey, this year is going to be different?"
Buxton: Be you. That’s all everybody else was telling me. I tried to do something I can’t. I took a step back and just told myself to relax. Why put pressure on yourself and everybody else has to do the same thing … control what I can control. That’s me going out there, play great defense, have great at-bats and trying to help the Twins win.
MLB.com: How much did Torii Hunter help you this offseason? I know he is a mentor to a lot of players on the Twins.
Buxton: Big. No matter time of the night or day, I can call him and talk about anything, whether it’s baseball, family stuff, it doesn’t really matter. That’s a big mentor I look up to. No matter what, he has my back.
MLB.com: What’s the biggest thing he said to you?
Buxton: Be you. That’s what everybody told me. Obviously, if everybody is telling me, “Be you.” Then I’m obviously not being myself.
MLB.com: You were one of the best prospects a few years back. Did you put a lot of pressure on yourself because of all that publicity?
Buxton: I did. When I first got up here, I don’t think I understood as much as I do now. I had a lot of pressure on my shoulders, and I was worrying about way too much rather than coming out here and playing baseball. Like I said, I took the offseason and threw everything out and turned the page.
MLB.com: I read the story where Rocco Baldelli went to Georgia to see you. How much of a difference did that make to you?
Buxton: It was huge. The new manager is getting off on the foot like that, him taking the time to come all the way to Georgia just to meet me. It’s something I can’t put into words. After he left, it was one of the things where I couldn’t wait to get to Spring Training. I couldn’t wait to get the boys back together and get out and do what we are doing.
MLB.com: How much credit do you give Baldelli to your nice start? You are doing well.
Buxton: He helped me do well. He just told me to come out and be yourself, play aggressively and have fun. He preaches to have fun a lot. That’s one thing I got away from a little bit . . . having fun with the game. I also put a little more pressure on me to come out here and say, “I have to do this, I have to do that,” rather than come out here and have quality at-bats. I try to do just one little thing a day, whether it’s a stolen base, run, keeping the runner off second. The little things are what counts.
MLB.com: That seems to be the theme. Be yourself. As one of the top draft picks, did you feel you had to hit a lot of home runs to drive in a lot of runs?
Buxton: I really wasn’t a home run guy. That was one of the biggest things. When I got to pro ball, Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau and Paul Molitor tried to tell me what not to do. I tried to elevate the ball to try to hit it out. They would ask, “Why are you different?” I’m trying to hit it out. I didn’t understand. Try to hit it through the wall. You hit it through the wall and stay through the zone longer. Those little things right there.
MLB.com: It seems like the Twins are having fun. The Twins are not going away. What do you think?
Buxton: We are having a lot of fun. This is our squad. This is it. We have a lot of fun in the clubhouse. We have a lot of fun on the field. We play hard, play aggressive. That’s how we come up with our DNA.
MLB.com: Last year wasn’t pleasant. How disappointed were you that you didn’t get back to the big leagues? I know you had your share of injuries.
Buxton: It is what it is. I turned the page. Just glad to be up [in the big leagues]. I’m glad to be helping the team win. I’m glad to be up here being myself. Just being up here, being in this clubhouse, being out here and being able to put on a big league uniform, that’s the biggest thing to me. That’s something you can’t take for granted. I come out here each and every day, and I thank the Lord that I’m able and blessed enough to come out here and play this game each and every day. I’m lucky.
MLB.com: How did you get to be the Gold Glove-caliber player that you became?
Buxton: My dad. He was more of that go-getter type of guy. Once I’m out there, I make my mind up that I’m going to catch this ball. I’m going to go get it no matter what it takes. My dad is the same way. I tried to tell him to sit back, relax. He said, “I’m not doing that.” That’s where I get it from.
You hear it all the time: Lay off the wall. In reality, it’s just instincts. That’s built into me from my dad.
MLB.com: Speaking of laying off the wall: I’ve seen you get hurt because you hit the wall so many times. Have you thought about laying off the wall?
Buxton: There is no point in it. If you are going to come out here and you want to win, you do what you have to do to help your team win. You have but one life. I’m going to make the most of it while I can.
MLB.com: I remember in the Wild Card Game against the Yankees in 2017, you were hurt because you ran into the wall. I said, "Man, he should take it easy." But you are not going to take easy, are you?
Buxton: No, I’m not. I’m going to play my way. That’s me going out there playing reckless. I like playing aggressive. I like challenging people. Defense is a big part of me. My dad told me that defense wins championships. So I take a lot of pride in it.
MLB.com: What about going for more home runs?
Buxton: Just make solid contact. The ball will do what it does once it hits contact.
MLB.com: I’ve watched the Twins the last two weeks and I’m saying, "Man, they have pitching, and the offense is coming around, especially the way the team handled Jacob deGrom." Is this team good enough to win the Central Division?
Buxton: Yeah, we are good enough. That’s the whole point of it. Me, personally, I’m glad people don’t think we are what we are. It makes more people mad. That’s how we like it. (B Ladson - MLB.com - April 12, 2019)
July 16, 2019: Buxton received the MLB Players Alumni Association "Heart and Hustle" award for the Twins. This esteemed award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game.
Byron's left arm was immobilized in a large black cast, but that did little to dampen the jokes, quips or smiles coming from the center fielder as he enjoyed being in the home clubhouse at Target Field before a late 2019 season game against the Royals.
The plan was always for Buxton to return to be with the team following season-ending surgery to repair the labrum in his left shoulder on Sept. 10. The Twins are confident that his energy and swagger in the clubhouse will prove beneficial to his teammates as they push toward an AL Central title in the final games of the regular season.
"Buck's place in this clubhouse is lofty," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "He's extremely well respected, and I think guys were waiting for him to get back here. We talk about the energy that he brings. He brings it whether he’s playing or not. He lights up the room, and I'm glad he's able to be back here with us this quickly and spend some time with the group."
Buxton's left arm was to be kept immobile for six weeks, and depending on his progress with physical therapy, he could begin working out soon after. Buxton is resolved to keep perspective and be a buoyant teammate who can still contribute to the pennant race—just off the field.
"Don't change. Be me," Buxton said. "Smile every day and just take it how it is. I can't change the situation, so just keep everybody in the game. Like [Baldelli] said, I like to bring a lot of energy and keep people smiling, and keep people feeling good. That's what I'm going to try to do. I keep everybody up."
"The toughest thing was me accepting that I had to have surgery," Buxton said. "It was one of those situations where I wanted to do anything I could. I couldn't swing the bat, so I wanted to do anything I could to give us some help."
He still can. He understands that now. Most importantly, he's still having fun being around his team and watching the club push towards the 2019 postseason.
"It's more of a blessing that they still want me around in the clubhouse, even in this situation," Buxton said. "I'm just glad I can still be in here even though I can't go out there and compete. Just to be around these guys, it means a lot." (Park - mlb.com - 9/20/19)
Oct 10, 2019: Byron Buxton was determined to make this year different.
Fueled by the frustration of an underwhelming, injury-plagued 2018 campaign and the sting of being left in Triple-A during September callup season that year, Buxton went home to Georgia during the offseason and worked by himself to bulk up, simplify his swing, clear his head and renew his focus for the future. He arrived at Spring Training up 21 pounds and without a leg kick in his swing—the fruits of his offseason labor.
Two steps forward, one step back.
The 2019 season offered Buxton a clean slate to erase the struggles of '18 and prove, once again, that he can be a foundational piece of this franchise's contending future. He did that. When healthy, Buxton built on the promise of his successful 2017 campaign and was one of the most productive and valuable players in baseball, combining line-drive ability and speed on the basepaths with his transformative defense in center field. He was among MLB's leaders in doubles and WAR when he was in the lineup.
But once again, he couldn't stay healthy—and much of it was out of his control. First, he missed time with a bruised right wrist after he was hit by a pitch. Next, it was concussion-like symptoms after his head slammed into the ground on a diving catch. And finally, his season ended after he sustained a torn labrum on a collision with an outfield wall.
And therein lies the dichotomy of Buxton's career on full display once more: tantalizing, game-changing talent, coupled with an unfortunate injury history that forces the Twins to examine how they can keep their center fielder in the lineup. But there's a difference at the end of 2019: He is less of a question mark, having shown that his outstanding 2017 isn't an outlier.
What went right in 2019?
When Buxton was on the field, not much didn't go right. He posted career-bests across the board with a .262/.314/.513 line and he demolished his career-high in doubles, with 30 two-baggers in only 87 games. His strikeout rate was lower than it had ever been, while his hard-hit rate and average exit velocity soared. His line-drive rate, barrel rate and whiff rate were all career-bests. That is to say: All of his peripherals showed the makings of a young hitter taking a noticeable step forward.
All the while, he played his trademark game-changing defense in center field. Even while active for only half the season, Buxton's 12 outs above average, as measured by Statcast, were fifth-best in baseball, and he caught the highest percentage of balls in the field considered five-star difficulty (36.4 percent) among all qualified outfielders.
It's no surprise, then, that Buxton still finished tied for seventh place on the Twins with 2.7 WAR, according to FanGraphs, despite missing nearly half of the season.
"[Buxton] was, for the early part of the year, close to halfway through the year, he was one of the best players in baseball," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said in September. "I mean, you can spin it any way you want and look at the numbers any way you want. There were very few players in baseball who were more valuable than him to that point. And obviously, then, we got to the point where we were dealing with some of the injuries."
What went wrong in 2019?
The exact moment it all went wrong was with one out in the bottom of the second inning of the Twins' series finale against the Marlins on Aug. 1. Miami outfielder Harold Ramirez drilled a fly ball into the right-center field gap, and Buxton couldn't snare the ball as he sprinted and leapt on the warning track. His cap flew off as his left shoulder hit the outfield wall at Marlins Park.
The initial diagnosis was a left shoulder subluxation (partial dislocation), but Buxton first hit a setback while swinging on a rehab assignment with Class A Cedar Rapids and then attempted a comeback as a defensive replacement and baserunner in September. He then saw a specialist and ultimately opted to undergo season-ending surgery for a torn labrum in his left shoulder. His comeback bid incomplete, Buxton was forced to watch the Twins' appearance in the ALDS from the bench.
"I wanted to try to do everything I could to rehab and get back," Buxton said following his surgery. "Cedar Rapids was kind of the insurance of me knowing what I needed to do next. The toughest thing was me accepting that I had to have surgery. Being a kid, you always hear, 'You don't ever want nobody to cut on,' and things like that. It was one of those situations where I wanted to do anything I could."
Best moment in 2019
On May 18, Buxton stepped to the plate with one out against the Mariners following a Max Kepler double and a pair of walks to Sanó and Jason Castro in the top of the second inning. He worked the count to 2-0, got a belt-high cutter from Wade LeBlanc, and unloaded for his fourth homer of the season and second career grand slam.
With that said, no article about Buxton is complete without showcasing his defense. Everyone associates Buxton with his range in center field and his penchant for leaping grabs at the outfield wall, but it's easy to forget that Buxton, a former high school pitcher, also has a cannon of a right arm. He showed that off in the eighth inning of a May 14 contest against the Angels, when he fielded a Brian Goodwin single on one hop and fired a 98.6 mph strike to home plate to nail Shohei Ohtani and preserve a one-run lead.
2020 Season: Buxton saw limited play in the abbreviated season. An ankle injury and shoulder inflammation meant he played in only 39 of the 60 games.
2021 Season: This season was another long episode of “imagine if this guy was healthy for a full year” for Byron Buxton. Over 61 games, Buxton posted career best numbers in 2021, slashing .306/.358/.647 and 19 home runs. That’s truly incredible. If Buxton had played at the same pace, this is what his stat line would have looked like: .306/.358/.647, 52 HR, 87 RBI, and 24 SB. Wow. (Otto Johnson - Oct. 13, 2021)
July 2022: Buxton was selected to his first All-Star Game. The center fielder became the first Twins player to hit a go-ahead homer in the All-Star Game when he crushed a high fastball out to left field in the fourth inning, going back-to-back with Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton to give the American League a 3-2 lead. That proved to be the game’s decisive run.
After three days away from the team, Byron Buxton brought his charisma Friday night. It’s all the Twins outfielder has to offer at the moment.
Stuck on the 10-day injured list for the first time this season, Buxton is disappointed he’s unable to play. Because he can’t, the All-Star’s only alternative is to be all-in trying to deliver his teammates a much-needed boost of energy.
“Just keep being positive inside the clubhouse, keep smiling,” Buxton said. “I was walking around, trying to get some milk for my little boy. Some woman just walked up and was like, ‘I like your charisma.’ I was like, ‘OK.’ I had to look that up and see exactly what that was. It was something that just kind of stuck with me the last couple days, watching us play, and it didn’t look like we were smiling, being positive, having fun like we normally would. So that’s something I feel like I can bring back, turn it around, even if I’m not playing.”
He may be sidelined, but Buxton was in a good mood in the Twins clubhouse Friday. For one night, it actually worked. The Twins snapped their six-game losing streak. (TheAthletic-Aug 26, 2022)
2022 Season: Byron Buxton would be a free agent if not for an extension signed in December, on the eve of MLB’s lockout. Now he’s under contract through 2028, giving the Twins the same six years of team control they have over a yet-to-debut prospect. There’s a decent chance Buxton will produce as much future value for the Twins as anyone on this list, even if he remains a part-time player due to injuries.
Buxton out-performing, say, Lee and Lewis during the next six years isn’t hard to envision. After all, he’s already an All-Star who produced 18.1 Wins Above Replacement in the past six years, including 4.0 bWAR in 2022 and 4.5 bWAR in 2021. Those would be good outcomes for Lee or Lewis, or nearly any prospect. However, value relative to salary is also a factor in Buxton’s spot on this list.
Buxton is by no means overpaid. Despite the injuries, based on WAR he was worth $32 million in 2022 and $36 million in 2021, more than double the $15 million annual salary he’ll get from 2023-2028. He’s likely to be underpaid for the next six years. Just not nearly as underpaid as Lee and Lewis will be in their first six years, because that’s how MLB’s pre-free agency salary system works. (Aaron Gleeman - Nov 1, 2022)
Nov. 30, 2022: Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was awarded the 2022 MLB Bob Feller Act of Valor Award.
Dec 22, 2022: While much of the United States gets hit with a wave of arctic weather causing temperatures to plummet below zero, here's a truly heartwarming story for you.
Upon hearing about 9-year-old Dylan Marette of Roseville, Minn., being severely assaulted by a bully at school last week, Twins center fielder Byron Buxton became the latest pro athlete to send his well wishes, along with a special gift, to the youngster as he heals up.
According to Dylan's father, Brian, who has been posting periodic updates about Dylan's condition on Twitter, there were initial concerns about a concussion, a broken jaw, a cranial fracture and even bleeding on the brain. There was a concussion, but thankfully no jawbone or cranial fractures and no brain bleed, and it appears Dylan is going to make a full recovery.
Several members of the community -- and even two Minnesota Vikings players -- reached out to Dylan and his family, having them on the sidelines during their 39-36 overtime win over the Colts last Saturday.
When Buxton heard about what happened to Dylan, he sent him an autographed All-Star jersey, autographed cleats and a Buxton bobblehead as part of a gift package.
Buxton also tweeted that he hopes to see Dylan at Target Field soon. When the weather warms up again and springtime returns, here's hoping Dylan and his family have a great time watching Buxton and the Twins take the field. (M Randhawa - MLB.com - Dec 22, 2022)
June 2012: The Twins chose Byron in the first round (#2 overall), out of Appling County High School in Baxley, Georgia. He signed, via scout Jack Powell, for $6 million.
Jan 11, 2019: Buxton and the Twins avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $1.7 million.
January 10, 2020: Buxton and the Twins avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $3 million.
Dec 3, 2020: Buxton and the Twins avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $5 million for the 2021 season.
Nov. 28, 2021: The Twins signed Buxton to a seven-year, $100 million extension. The deal features a heavily incentive-laden structure and full no-trade clause. The incentive structure supplements the relatively low annual guarantee of $9 million in 2022 and $15 million from 2023-2028. It has big bonuses for Top 10 finishes in AL MVP voting. Also, Buxton will earn an additional $500,000 each in incentives for reaching 502, 533, 567, 600 and 625 plate appearances.
Buxton can be a true five-tool player if his bat develops. He has a line-drive swing with power to the gaps. And that will develop into a few more homers about every season. His quick hands and strong hands.
The ball jumps off Byron's bat at times. He has blazing bat speed that allows him to just sit back on the ball and then explode through it. He peppers the field with hard line drives. He should develop into an impact player—a 60 hitter with 60 power. And 70 grade power might be on the way. (Spring, 2017)
Byron generates tremendous bat speed and has the ability to drive the ball out to all fields. A disciplined hitter early in his career, he has proven susceptible to chasing off-speed stuff in the upper levels and his strikeout totals have climbed as a result. But in 2016, he brought back the leg kick from his youth and finally looked like the player he was projected to be when he returned to Minnesota in September, hitting .287/357/.687 with 9 home runs in 29 games.
But Buxton's general lack of plate discipline continued to be an issue with 118 strikeouts against just 23 walks, but his September showing was a promising glimpse of what he can be. (Spring, 2017)
Buxton has loose hands and an easy, simple swing with good plane, lightning-fast bat speed, strong wrists and a nice idea of the strike zone, along with good pitch recognition. His swing path keeps the bat in the hitting zone a long time. His hands are super-fast and the barrel goes so directly to the ball
He is learning to backspin balls so that he can manifest his plus power. It is easy power to all parts of the park.
Byron has the speed to leg out infield hits and the power for extra-base hits. He shows a willingness to bunt for hits.
In 2015, Buxton was singled out by Southern League managers as the circuit’s fastest baserunner, best defensive outfielder, and most exciting player. Buxton has all-star potential.
Byron has a whippy swing that produces excellent bat speed. He’s skinny with plenty of muscle definition, but not a whole lot of size yet. His chest and biceps don’t betray him as a power hitter. Because of his bat speed he can drive the ball to all fields, and when he really connects, the ball carries.
Buxton recognizes pitches so quickly, scouts said they had to see him for multiple days to make sure he wasn’t just making pre-pitch decisions to swing or not swing. Buxton’s swing is short and direct to the ball. It’s helped immensely by his massive strong hands that generate excellent bat speed.
But critics point out Byron's susceptibility vs. good sliders.
Byron has good bat speed that helps generate power from his 6-foot-2 frame.
June 15, 2015: Buxton's first Major League hit was a triple.
2019 Improvements: “It took last year to happen for me to figure this out,” Buxton said. “I take last year as a positive sign for me. It allowed me to free my mind, and it allowed me to go this offseason clearly, to get me where I am today.”
Buxton used his frustration as fuel, revamping his training program and putting on 21 pounds.
He also got rid of his leg kick and worked on his swing.
“I’m more comfortable with it because the whole offseason, it was just myself, so it’s my swing, my thought process, my thinking,” Buxton said. “Everything with my swing now is me. I didn’t go to no hitting coach, I didn’t go work out with nobody. I worked out by myself, I hit by myself, and that’s where it’s going to stay.”
He said he was the one who wanted to try out the leg kick after 2017. It felt good, but in the end didn’t work out.
Without the leg kick, he has fewer things to think about when he does swing because in addition to ditching the leg kick, he’s trying to see more pitches. (Betsy Helfand -Twin Cities - Feb. 27, 2019)
2019: When Buxton was on the field, not much didn't go right. He posted career-bests across the board with a .262/.314/.513 line and he demolished his career-high in doubles, with 30 two-baggers in only 87 games. His strikeout rate was lower than it had ever been, while his hard-hit rate and average exit velocity soared. His line-drive rate, barrel rate and whiff rate were all career-bests. That is to say: All of his peripherals showed the makings of a young hitter taking a noticeable step forward.
April 6, 2021: Following a bout with an illness over the past few days, Buxton was feeling well enough to take the field in the fifth inning against the Tigers at Comerica Park. It’s safe to say he looked no worse for the wear.
On Opening Day, Buxton hit the longest home run of his career. Then he hit the ball harder than ever before. In his first plate appearance back on the field, the Twins’ center fielder continued his early power surge with a game-tying solo blast that soared an estimated 451 feet into the left-field bleachers. Minnesota couldn’t finish the job in extra innings, stranding a runner at third in the 10th before the Tigers took a 4-3 victory on Akil Baddoo’s walk-off single.
“Watching him just completely change ballgames single-handedly is just something that never gets old,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said.
That no-doubt homer off Tigers right-hander José Cisnero left Buxton’s bat at 114.1 mph, and the ball fell only five feet shy of the career-long mark he set with a 456-foot blast in Milwaukee. It was still good for another record, as it marked the highest exit velocity of any batted ball in Buxton’s career, besting a 113.6 mph double he hit on July 5, 2019.
All that weightlifting from the offseason looks to be more than paying off. Byron had two-a-day workouts, six days a week. And his newfound power doesn’t look to be compromising his approach at the plate. His three homers this season have come against three different pitch types—Eric Yardley’s sider, Corbin Burnes’ cutter and, now, Cisnero’s four-seam fastball.
“He’s not going up there swinging aimlessly,” Baldelli said. “He’s going up there with a plan. He knows the pitches that he is looking to attack and do damage on, and that’s exactly what he’s done.”
The experience Buxton has accumulated over parts of seven seasons helps. Consider, for example, his homer off Yardley, a sidewinding Brewers reliever. Buxton had two strikeouts and a walk at that point, and he felt he hadn’t swung at a good pitch. But he remembered facing Yardley in 2020. He knew he’d get a slider at some point.
“I was like, ‘You know what? This is what he’s going to try to do to me,’” Buxton said. “I went up there and had a plan.” He got one, and he didn’t miss. Another thing that Buxton has discovered is that he can sit on off-speed pitches when he’s at the plate because he’s got more confidence that pitchers won’t be able to throw fastballs by him. Though he’s struggled to make contact with breaking pitches and off-speed pitches, he’s always had a good track record on fastballs. And his 22.3 percent whiff rate against heaters last year was bested by only Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler among Twins starters.
The results back that up. Buxton's homer off Burnes came on a 95.7 mph cutter that was spotted at the knees on the outside corner. And Buxton went the other way with it and popped it 411 feet to right-center. The big fly that came in from Cisnero’s hand at 96.4 mph and exited the ballpark at 114.1 mph.
“I feel confident enough now where it doesn’t really matter what you throw to me,” Buxton said. “I’ll sit on breaking pitches. I’m starting to realize how quick my hands are to react to those fastballs. Once you get to that point, it’s pretty scary.”
Buxton entered the game with a .616 slugging percentage since the start of the 2020 season, ranking sixth among all hitters with at least 100 plate appearances in that time. He and Nelson Cruz finished the game tied with several others atop the MLB home run leaderboard at three after Cruz continued to torment the Tigers with his third homer in two games, a seventh-inning blast to right field that drew the Twins within one run. Entering the season, it might have sounded far-fetched to think that Buxton could hold his own with Cruz in the power department. But Baldelli claims his center fielder could be “taking this thing to the next level” in 2021.
"I wouldn't even attempt to tell you what I think it looks like, because he can do things that others don't do out on the field,” Baldelli said. (DH Park - MLB.com - April 6, 2021)
Byron is on some kind of tear to start the 2021 season. He is the first player in Twins history with extra-base hits in each of his first six games of a season. In fact, his first seven hits of the year went for extra bases—four homers and three doubles.
- As of the start of the 2021 season, Byron's career Major League stats were: .238 batting average, 51 home runs with 172 RBI in 1,380 at-bats.
- April 11, 2023: Twins designated hitter Byron Buxton hit his 100th career homer against the Chicago White Sox.
Byron has developed into an excellent outfielder. A pure center fielder, he glides to the ball and covers a lot of ground. He now habitually makes the difficult play look effortless. Buxton makes some jaw-dropping defensive plays in center field.
Buxton has a strong right arm. He has everything needed to be a Gold Glover, including a top-shelf arm that delivered 94 mph fastballs off the mound in high school. That arm struck out 18 batters in the deciding game of the Georgia 2-A playoff championship series last year by firing 92-93 mph fastballs.
His defense gets a superb 80, with his arm a fine 70 on the scout's scale. His arm shows the accuracy to hit the cutoff man and the arm strength to throw on a line to third base or home with excellent carry.
Byron's speed assures he can cover plenty of ground, and he pairs it with good jumps, good technique and excellent routes to make the gaps closed off to opposing hitters. Buxton is fearless going back to get balls at the wall and understands both positioning and reading balls off the bat.
Byron makes highlight-reel plays in center field on a regular basis. In fact, during the 2013 season, a diving catch he made in Cedar Rapids was the SportsCenter play of the day.
- When asked where he learned to play the outfield like that? "At TwinsFest," Buxton explained, "The only reason I started catching fly balls was because I got hit in the head with a fly ball."
So it's not that Buxton wants to make the catch—it's that he needs to. Nothing like a good whack on the noggin that'll make you catch everything that comes your way.
Byron's made his biggest impact in the outfield, possessing a unique blend of instincts and physical ability. "Byron's got tremendous instincts, but that's not everything," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "There's guys who have great instincts but then aren't able to do the same things he does because he has superior speed and quickness, the ability to analyze and read balls, and he can throw like that." (Ardaya - MLB.com - 6/15/16)
In 2017, Buxton won the Fielding Bible award for the best center fielder in MLB.
In 2017, Byron won his first Rawlings Gold Glove as AL Center Fielder.
Oct 10, 2019: Buxton played his trademark game-changing defense in center field. Even while active for only half the season, Buxton's 12 outs above average, as measured by Statcast, were fifth-best in baseball, and he caught the highest percentage of balls in the field considered five-star difficulty (36.4 percent) among all qualified outfielders.
It's no surprise, then, that Buxton still finished tied for seventh place on the Twins with 2.7 WAR, according to FanGraphs, despite missing nearly half of the season.
"Close to halfway through the year, Byron was one of the best players in baseball," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said in September. "I mean, you can spin it any way you want and look at the numbers any way you want. There were very few players in baseball who were more valuable than him to that point, and obviously, then, we got to the point where we were dealing with some of the injuries."
Byron's best tool is his speed. Scouts give him at least a 70—many even a 75 or 80 on the 20-80 scale. And he is still improving his reading of pitcher's moves.
Buxton gets to first base in 3.90 to 4.02 seconds down the line from the right side of home to first base. He can leg out plenty of infield and bunt hits to boost his batting average.
Buxton glides from first to third with massive, fluid strides that seem to eat up 90 feet in just a few steps. Same thing with second to home. Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Byron, "He might be the fastest player I’ve ever seen going home-to-third." Molitor smiled, then added: “Or home to home.”
October 2, 2016: Buxton wasted little time in his first game at leadoff hitter this year, smacking the first pitch from White Sox ace Chris Sale over the head of center fielder Leury Garcia for an inside-the-park homer in the Twins' 6-3 win in the season finale.
Buxton showed off his elite speed, as he made it to home in 14.05 seconds, which was the fastest time recorded by Statcast on an inside-the-parker over the last two seasons.
Home to first (non-bunt), righthanded batter—2016 Record: Byron Buxton, 3.72 seconds against the Indians on July 15, 2016. MLB average time: 4.62 seconds. The outcome of this particular play ensured that it was unlikely to be remembered, but with the season fully in the rearview mirror, it is absolutely worth looking at again. Leading off the third inning, Buxton rolled over a fastball to short and then busted it down the line with tremendous speed: Unfortunately for Buxton, this event ended with an out because the shortstop fielding the ball was Cleveland's defensive wizard Francisco Lindor. (Corinne Landrey - Nov. 2016)
In 2017, MLB added a new Statcast metric, "Sprint Speed," which measures runner foot speed in feet per second (in their fastest one-second window). We report the average of a player's qualified maximum effort runs, so we end up with a number where 27 feet per second is league average, and the slowest catchers and designated hitters are down around 23 feet per second. You can see the entire leaderboard here.
Sprint Speed leaders in 2017: 30 feet per second—Billy Hamilton and Byron Buxton 29.7 feet per second; Bradley Zimmer 29.6 feet per second.
August 19, 2017: Buxton’s hit a home run. But this wasn’t just any home run. It was an inside-the-park home run with some Buxton sizzle added to it.
According to Statcast, Buxton went home-to-home in 13.85 seconds, which is the fastest home run trot or sprint they’ve clocked since debuting their metric system in 2015. Yet he still needed to make a pretty nifty slide to avoid the tag of Diamondbacks’ catcher Chris Iannetta.
August 25, 2017: Byron barely needed to swing his bat to help tilt a game against Toronto in the Twins' favor.
His fleet feet were a headache for the Blue Jays all night in Minnesota's 6-1 win, as one of the fastest players in baseball managed three hits including two bunt singles, two RBIs, a stolen base and a spectacular diving catch that likely saved two runs at a crucial moment in the eighth. After the grab, he was uncharacteristically emotional in celebrating.
"I think knowing that taking away a hit from them and also keeping the score, it kind of boosted me up a little bit," Buxton explained. "The crowd kind of heckling me a little bit and telling me all those things, and once you make a play like that, that kind of silences them. I was pretty pumped for that."
His speed was first a factor in the third inning. When Buxton came up with runners at the corners and only one out, he finessed a perfect bunt up the first-base line and past Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ, who fell to his knees to field the ball but couldn't get the runner at the plate or Buxton at first. He would then come around to score on Jorge Polanco's double. It was Buxton's second safety squeeze in as many weeks.
"He made a perfect bunt," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think he got to first before anyone touched the ball."
Two innings later, Buxton came to the plate after Joe Mauer's leadoff double. The Blue Jays couldn't have been surprised when Buxton bunted again—this time up the third-base line. But again there was no stopping him. He went on to steal second, his 23rd of the season.
Then there was his rally-halting catch in the eighth. The Blue Jays had runners on first and second when Rob Refsnyder drilled a liner to deep right-center. Buxton took off and made a miraculous-looking, leaping, twisting catch to end the inning.
"He can fly. He may be the fastest guy in the league," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He can do so many things with those legs. He'll beat you with those legs." (Patch - mlb.com - 8/25/17)
In 2017, MLB debuted a new baserunning statistic—Sprint Speed. It revealed the fastest runners in the Majors. Billy Hamilton was first with an average of 30.1 feet per second.
The others on the list: Byron Buxton at 299 feet per second. Then came Bradley Zimmer (29.8), Franchy Cordero (29.6) and Keon Broxton (29.4).
According to Statcast's sprint speed metric, Byron is one of the fastest players in baseball. But this season he's using his speed to become a better base stealer with the help of manager Paul Molitor, third-base coach Gene Glynn and first-base coach Jeff Smith.
Buxton, whose average sprint speed is 30.2 feet per second, or just a hair faster than Billy Hamilton's 30.1, stole his 22nd straight base without getting caught, tying a club record set by Matt Lawton (1999-2000) and Chuck Knoblauch (1994). Buxton, who was 10-for-12 on stolen base attempts in 2016, is 27-for-28 in 2017.
"It's more that I've been doing my homework before the game," Buxton said. "I've been looking at video at whoever is starting that day. Does his head do something different? Does his shoulder do something different? Does his knee go a different way? Where does he set up on the rubber? Things to give me that slight edge."
Buxton said he averages about 30 minutes analyzing pitchers on video for stolen-base purposes, looking at the club's starters and relievers. The Twins also provide a chart in the dugout with all of the relevant info, including average times to the plate, throw-over tendencies and descriptions of each pitcher's move to first. But Buxton said he's more focused on getting good jumps based on reading the pitcher than worrying about how quick they are to the plate.
"It's not so much time," Buxton said. "You hear 1.2 seconds and you think that's quick, but if you take that time away and try to get comfortable and confident, if you've done your homework like the way his shoulder or head moves, you don't really worry about the time. You focus on what gave you that edge. That's the first key to going or not."
Molitor, who stole 504 bases during his Hall of Fame career, began working with Buxton on base stealing when he was in the Minors and noticed how raw he was in terms of technique. So he's proud of the steps he's taken since going only 2-for-4 on steals in 2015.
"I remember some of those early attempts and you could see his frustration like, 'This didn't happen in the Minor Leagues.'" Molitor said. "So it's kind of funny. But I had him at a younger age and we tried to work on some things. I tried to instill in him that in the Minors it's about attempts and don't gauge it on success or failure. You have to get that feel, so every chance you get, run."
Molitor noted that speed isn't everything, as Buxton admitted he used to simply try to outrun the catcher's throw, but now understands there's much more nuance to it.
"Sheer speed is not going to be your formula for success, although it certainly helps," Molitor said. "I've always broken down base-stealing into two phases. You want good mechanics so when you come out of your lead you have the chance to be explosive and run a good route. But then there's the mental side, which has to do with understanding pitchers, and not just tendencies or possible things they do to give you an edge. If you can combine those things, you have a better chance of not getting caught." (Bollinger - mlb.com - 9/22/17)
September 3, 2017: Buxton laced an RBI triple to right-center field as part of a four-run first inning. Buxton reached third in 10.52 seconds, which is the fastest time to third tracked by Statcast this season and the second-fastest since Statcast was introduced in 2015.
September 27, 2017: Byron set the club record for consecutive stolen bases without getting caught, with 23.
April 12, 2018: Byron has now stolen 28 consecutive bases and he is pretty quickly moving into impressive territory. Only eight players in baseball history have stolen 35 bases in a row. The last was Jimmy Rollins back in 2007 leading into 2008; he stole 37 in a row. The record of 50 in a row was set by Vince Coleman in 1989.
- On May 23, 2017 in Baltimore, the Buxton had second base stolen in the third inning. Despite a nearly perfect throw from Orioles catcher Welington Castillo, Buxton got to the bag just in time with a head-first slide. But then, Buxton’s momentum carried him past second, and before he could reach back, shortstop J.J. Hardy tagged him out. The mistake went down in the record book as a caught stealing. A very rare caught-stealing for Buxton.
Minnesota’s speedy center fielder is quickly establishing himself as one of the most effective and efficient base-stealers in today’s game . . . and maybe in baseball history. He is now on a run of 32 consecutive successful stolen-base attempts, including three so far in 2019. It’s the longest such streak in Twins history, and the longest in the Majors in nearly seven years. (A Simon - MLB.com - April 13, 2019)
- April 22, 2019: Buxton's club record of 33 stolen bases without being picked off ended. Buxton's last caught stealing had been in Baltimore on May 23, 2017, when he over-slid the bag after a successful stolen base. He is now 39-for-his-last-41 on steals and has been caught 6 times in 56 career attempts.
The all-time AL record belonged to Ichiro Suzuki, who had 45 straight from April 29, 2006, to May 16, 2007. And the all-time Major League record is 50, held by Vince Coleman.
October 16, 2013: Buxton was held out of the lineup for Glendale of the Arizona Fall League because of a left shoulder strain.
March 17-May 4, 2014: Byron injured his wrist while diving for a fly ball. He was feeling soreness in the wrist when swinging a bat, though an MRI revealed no structural damage to the wrist.
He was diagnosed with a sprain of the pisotriquetral joint, which can be slow to heal. So he began the season on the DL.
May 11-July 6, 2014: Buxton was placed right back on the seven-day Minor League disabled list with a sprained left wrist. He re-injured it while sliding home.
August 13-end of 2014 season: Buxton was hospitalized with a concussion after colliding with Double-A New Britain teammate Mike Kvasnicka in right-center field.
The collision occurred on a fly ball, when Kvasnicka's knee appeared to hit Buxton near his left shoulder. Buxton was playing in his first game at Double-A New Britain after being promoted from Single-A Fort Myers.
Play was suspended for more than 30 minutes as Buxton was stabilized on a stretcher and carried into an ambulance at New Britain Stadium. Buxton laid on the ground for several minutes and did not appear to be moving. Kvasnicka left the field under his own power but went with Buxton to the hospital.
Twins GM Terry Ryan was at the game and accompanied Buxton in the ambulance. "I don't know if I've seen a collision that severe in recent memory," said Ryan. "But Byron Buxton's fine. He's alert. He has a concussion, so we'll have to take the normal procedure and protocol for concussion symptoms. He'll certainly be watched."
Ryan said Buxton was unconscious for 10 minutes but had no broken bones, neck, or shoulder injuries. RockCats manager Jeff Smith said Buxton returned to the team after the game. "It could have been a lot worse, we all know after watching that thing," said Ryan. "So we're grateful for just the concussion."
Buxton was held out of action for the rest of the season.
October 27, 2014: Byron dislocated his left middle finger while diving for a ball in the Arizona Fall League.
October 30, 2014: Buxton underwent surgery to repair the finger. A pin was placed inside that middle finger on his left knee.
June 25-Aug. 10, 2015: Byron was on the D.L. after his hand got underneath his body during a head-first slide. Buxton played through the injury the day, striking out in all four at-bats. He was put on the DL the next day with a badly sprained left thumb.
July 15-Aug 1, 2017: Buxton was on the DL with left groin strain.
April 15, 2018: Buxton was on the DL with migraines.
April 28-May 10, 2018: Buxton will continue on the DL as he fractured his big toe during a rehab game.
May 30-July 2, 2018: Buxton was on the DL with left great toe fracture.
July 13-27, 2018: Byron was on the DL with a left wrist sprain.
July 31-Aug. 14, 2018: Buxton was on the DL with a left wrist strain.
- June 15-29, 2019: Byron was on the IL with right wrist contusion. Buxton isn't expected to be sidelined for much more than the minimum 10 days. The move was also a roster consideration to give the Twins a bit more flexibility with their personnel while Buxton recovers.
"The direction he was going was actually pretty positive," Baldelli said. "We're just at a point where we wanted to make sure we allowed him to heal instead of rushing him back."
July 14-25. 2019: Buxton was on the IL with concussion like symptoms.
Aug 3-Sept 1, 2019: Buxton was on the IL with left shoulder subluxation that was sustained in a collision with the outfield wall at Marlins Park. Manager Rocco Baldelli avoided giving any specific timeline for Buxton's recovery, but it should be several weeks before Buxton sees the field again. Baldelli said that Buxton would require a "couple of weeks" of rehabilitation on his shoulder before evaluating him for participation in baseball activity.
Aug 26, 2019: Buxton’s litany of injuries has been a constant and frustrating story of the young outfielder’s career. His status for the rest of 2019 remains unclear after another setback during his latest rehab assignment.
Buxton’s rehab assignment with Class A Cedar Rapids was temporarily suspended following some discomfort he felt during batting practice. The 25-year-old outfielder was also removed from his first rehab game after just two at-bats.
Sept. 10, 2019: The Twins’ likely return to October will not include Buxton, as Minnesota announced that it placed Buxton on the 60-day injured list on account of his left shoulder subluxation. Buxton was set to undergo surgery on his labrum, with an initial anticipated recovery timeline of 5-6 months and more details expected once the surgery is complete.
Sept 10-Nov 4, 2019: Buxton was on the IL with left shoulder subluxation. Buxton's season is over. The 25-year-old center fielder underwent season-ending labrum surgery to prepare for a return to the field next season. The initial recovery time is estimated at around 5-6 months.
Nov 13, 2019: President of baseball operations Derek Falvey told MLB.com at the General Managers Meetings in Arizona that Buxton is expected to be "pretty much full-go" for the start of Spring Training following his season-ending left shoulder surgery in September.
Now just beyond the two-month mark since the procedure, Buxton is out of the protective sling that he wore following the Sept. 10 surgery and is working on a rehabilitation program with a physical therapist in Georgia three to four times a week.
"Byron actually, in a way, feels a little ahead of where you would think he would be," Falvey said. "He seems like a quick healer on that front. We kind of reminded him, talked to his agent and said, 'Be smart. You're going to feel really good and want to push, but there is a timeline to these things.' We just want to make sure he's in a really good place."
Feb 15, 2020: Buxton enters this camp with some clearly positive momentum following his season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder last September 2019. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said the Twins hope to have Buxton ramped up to game action by mid-March, but Buxton himself didn't put any timeline on his return in Spring Training. The sole focus for both Buxton and the Twins remains getting him ready for Opening Day on March 26 in Oakland.
March 10, 2020: The 26-year-old said after the session that his left shoulder, still on the mend from surgery to repair a torn labrum in September, felt fine even with the added stress of the swinging strike and check swing.
July 14, 2020: When Byron Buxton left Target Field, he was walking on his own, without the need of a protective boot around his left foot following the diagnosis of a mid-foot sprain earlier in the day. Not long after the Twins' center fielder was taken off the playing field on the back of a cart, there's already cause for "good spirits" around the team, manager Rocco Baldelli said.
"I think there's definitely a good amount of hope that Byron will be out there on Opening Day, but we're going to wait and see how he feels," Baldelli said.
Buxton is considered day to day with the injury. As is his custom, Baldelli declined to offer any specific timeline for Buxton's return to the field, but the Twins' skipper said that Buxton was already feeling better and moving around more effectively.
July 24-28, 2020: Buxton wasn't in the Twins' Opening Day lineup in Chicago, but he could be back in action when the Twins return to Minneapolis.
The Twins' center fielder has been sidelined since July 13 with a left mid-foot sprain sustained while he chased a fly ball during an intrasquad scrimmage at Target Field. He has since been ramping up his running and hitting at the team's alternate training site at CHS Field in St. Paul, Minn.
Aug. 20-Sept 1, 2020: Buxton was placed on the IL with a left shoulder inflammation.
Sept 26, 2020: The Twins are optimistic Buxton will be in the lineup for the Wild Card Series despite showing mild concussion symptoms.
May 7-June 19, 2021: Buxton was on the IL with grade 2 right hip strain, and will be out for multiple weeks. An MRI revealed the hip strain after the center fielder left in the loss to the Rangers, and per manager Rocco Baldelli, his absence will extend beyond the minimum 10 days.
May 11, 2021: Buxton remains focused on rest and treatment in the training room, Baldelli said.
June 22-Aug 27, 2021: Buxton was on the IL with a left hand fracture.
Aug 7, 2021: Buxton successfully completed a week of batting practice in the cage at Target Field, and following a day off his feet on Aug. 8, the center fielder will participate in "reasonably full" pregame workouts on the field with the team starting Aug. 9 when the Twins return from their three-city road trip.
It's likely that Buxton will need a rehab assignment of some sort before returning to the Twins, manager Rocco Baldelli said.
April 15, 2022: Buxton was forced to leave the game in the first inning with right knee soreness, after sliding into 2nd base awkwardly with both feet.
April 19, 2022: An MRI revealed no structural damage to Buxton's right knee.
"It was kind of more of a tingling sensation up my leg, and just more cautious than anything," Buxton said. "Normally, I probably wouldn't have said anything, just because I wanted to stay in and play, but it's early in the season, and it's better to miss a couple of games now than to miss two or three months later."
May 7, 2022: Buxton exited the game against the A’s with right hip tightness, per acting manager Jayce Tingler, and he was replaced by Gilberto Celestino in center field in the top of the eighth inning. Tingler believes it may have happened in Buxton's first at-bat, in which he ran to first base after a strikeout wild pitch, and the hip continued to tighten throughout the game.
Aug. 23, 2022: The Twins placed center fielder Byron Buxton on the 10-day injured list due to a low-grade right hip strain.
Sept. 25, 2022: Buxton didn't return for the season due to surgery on his troublesome right knee.
Sept 27-Oct 6, 2022: All went according to plan with the arthroscopic surgery to clean up Buxton's right knee, manager Rocco Baldelli said, describing "a very positive update" from Dr. Christopher Camp, the Twins' team physician. The surgery was expected to address some inflammation and fraying in the knee, which has troubled the center fielder throughout the season and is believed to have led to the hip issue that ultimately sidelined him for good.
"Just what you would want to hear," Baldelli said. "He’s home and he’s recovering. I think we’ll see him soon."
- May 20, 2023: The Twins pulled Buxton during the sixth inning of their 6-2 victory over the Angels as a precaution for tightness around his right knee.