With the addition of players like Jonathan Schoop and Nelson Cruz, and talented bats like Tyler Austin and Eddie Rosario, the Minnesota Twins roster has plenty of punch. Playing in the weakest division in baseball, they definitely have the talent on the roster to compete. The key for 2019 will come in center field. If Byron Buxton can be a star in 2019 and for the future, the Twins will battle to the top of the American League Central.
Prospect Buxton Key to Future
For years everyone has been waiting for Buxton to become the phenom that he was expected to be. As far back as 2014, MLB.com ranked him as the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball. This ranking stayed high all the way through 2016 for the talented prospect. With power, speed and a fantastic glove it appeared to be only a matter of time until Buxton became the centerpiece in the Twins resurgence back to the top of the AL Central. Sadly, that has yet to happen.
One reason it has not happened is because of injuries. There have been injuries to his back, thumb, eye, and toe among other things that have kept him on the sidelines. These nagging injuries have not allowed him to be the player many expected him to be.
The other trouble with Buxton has been his inconsistency at the plate and plate discipline. Last season, in just 90 at-bats at the major league level, he struck out 28 times. In 2016, he struck out in over a third of his plate appearances. Making better contact is something that needs to be done if he is going to have sustained success.
Hope for Rebound
Even with these inconsistencies, Buxton still has the talent to bring excitement to Minnesota and be a player that the team can build the future around. In 2016, after struggling for much of the season, Buxton went on a tear in September, homering nine times in his final twenty-nine games. During the second half of 2017, Buxton was flat-out dominant. Batting .300 over the final three months of the season with a .893 OPS, Buxton put the Twins on his back as he helped them move towards the postseason. From the All-Star break on, he finished with 13 homers, including an especially hot August where he homered eight times while batting .324. This strong finish not only helped him earn some votes for the MVP award, but his stunning defense earned Buxton a Gold Glove Award at season’s end.
Still only 25-years-old, Buxton has plenty of time to overcome his struggles. With one of the most exciting skill-sets in the game today, Buxton can completely transform the lineup in Minnesota if he is able to fully live up to his potential. For years he was the hope for Minnesota to contend for a long time. After a solid off-season of additions, he can continue to be that hope. After a trying 2018, his return could be the jolt the Twins need to make another postseason run in the very near future.
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