Monday, August 08, 2016

There is nothing wrong with Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton was sent down to AAA this week to make room for Trevor Plouffe. Buxton has repeatedly demonstrated his bat it not ready for the big leagues. In fact, he never really established that his bat was ready for AAA pitching. The Twins rushed Buxton to the big leagues because his defense played there and they had traded away Aaron Hicks who was the only other real center fielder they had.

The idea was his bat would develop in short order. It hasn't. That isn't much of a surprise for a guy who is just 22 years old. To put that in perspective, Torii Hunter played a handful of games in the big leagues at 22 getting less than 20 plate appearances. The next year he was part of the Twins youth movement and spent the entire season in the big leagues as the Twins center fielder. The next year he struggled mightily to start the season and was sent back to AAA. He tore up the league at AAA and was recalled for the rest of the season. The next year his offensive roll continued and he went on to become a Twin legend.

The reality of the Twins is that they have a lot of very young players who will likely need more seasoning at AAA. That includes guys like Sano, Kepler, Palanco and Berrios in addition to Buxton. That does not mean they aren't any good. It simply means that it takes time to adjust to the big leagues for even the most talented players. We remember the guys who have instant success and never look back. But the more typical path is that instant success is followed by failure and the need to adjust. Some guys do that while still producing just enough to hold a roster spot at the big league level, most don't.

What we should look for is the extent to which Buxton takes advantage of the next couple weeks to work on his bunting and base stealing. He should be focusing on those things that he can use at the big league level to take advantage of his outstanding tools. If he doesn't do that, then the real message is that he really isn't mature enough yet to make the jump. That doesn't mean he won't get there eventually or that he won't be a superstar when he does.

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