Byron or Bust for the Minnesota Twins Heading into 2017
After weeks and weeks of swirling trade rumors, it appears as though the Minnesota Twins might indeed hang onto second baseman, Brian Dozier, even though he had a monster season last year and could bring the organization a haul in return. With that said, things have been very quiet, with the exception of the usual minor league signings that every team does each winter, meaning that the Twins entire roster from last year remains in tack.
Therefore, how will 2017 treat the Minnesota Twins given that they exceeded expectations in 2015 and had a very poor season last year? The answer to that question surrounds around Byron Buxton and the tremendous amount of potential that he goes into the coming season with as he tries to prove that he can be an everyday MLB centerfielder.
The 23-year old, Buxton, busted onto the scene and made his major league debut on August 20th, 2015 after putting up stellar numbers down in Triple-A with the Rochester Red Wings. Buxton started the year down in Double-A where he hit: .283/.351/.489 in 237 at bats with 67 hits, 116 extra base hits, 6 home runs, 37 RBI, 26 walks, and 51 strikeouts. He was later called up to Triple-A where he experienced even more success hitting to the tune of: .400/.441/.545 in 55 at bats with 22 hits, 30 extra base hits, 1 home run, 8 RBI, 4 walks, and 12 strikeouts.
After getting called up to the big leagues, Buxton had mixed results ending the year with a: .209/.250/.326/.576 batting line in 129 at bats. In that span, Buxton had 27 hits, 42 extra base hits, 2 home runs, 6 RBI, 6 walks, and 44 strikeouts. Following the 2015 season, many people thought that Buxton was going to hit the ground running come 2016, but that was certainly not the case.
Buxton started the season at the major league level, but was sent back down to Triple-A Rochester just a few weeks after opening day after starting the season very dismal. In 45 at bats, he hit: .156/.208/.289 with 7 hits, 0 home runs, 2 RBI, 2 walks, and 24 strikeouts. Buxton stayed down in Triple-A until the end of May before being sent back down in August only to finish at the major league level again come last September when rosters expanded.
Heading into 2017, it is absolutely crucial that Buxton delivers a big punch for Minnesota even though they don't look like a contending team at the moment and likely won't make a lot of noise in the AL Central with the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers ruling the roost.
In order for the Twins to be successful and have another good year under Paul Molitor, they need Buxton to bring his A-plus defense to the field everyday and live up to the hype especially since many scouts believe that he will one day be the next Mike Trout. In addition, Minnesota needs him to put up similar or even better numbers like he did down in Double and Triple A at the start of 2015 and help contribute to the offensive numbers that Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer will likely put up assuming that Dozier is a Minnesota Twin come April.
For now, Twins fans can celebrate knowing that they potentially have the next Mike Trout on their hands and hope that 2017 is a good season for him. If not, it might just very well be a bust season again for the Twins in 2017 and force them to look at alternative options regarding Buxton's future in the Twin Cities.