2. CF Byron Buxton
After years of talking up Byron Buxton, the speed demon finally broke out in all phases of the game in 2017. Of course, the fielding ability was always there as he came away with his first Gold Glove in center field. Yet, the hitting finally came around after the All-Star break, hitting .300 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs. At season’s end, he finished with a .253 average along with 16 home runs and 51 RBIs. Not to mention, he went 29-for-30 on stolen base attempts, setting a club record with 24 straight stolen bases.
As a result, Buxton showed he can be the elite five-tool player that many imagined him being with the Twins. It was just a matter of time before he’d adjust to the professional game and he made the wait worthwhile. In fact, he was the Twins leader in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) at 5.14, meaning he statistically contributed most to the team’s success. As far as Defensive WAR, he was third in the entire MLB at 2.79, which shouldn’t come as a surprise.
With Buxton, the fielding really can’t be overstated enough. The most eye-popping fielding stat he put up was 32 total zone runs. What that means is that he was worth 32 runs above the average player based on plays made in the field. Now, this is where it gets insane though, the next best center fielder was Aaron Hicks, who had 13 total zone runs. Furthermore, he led the league in total zone runs with Mookie Betts coming in second with 28. Essentially, he could go down as the best defensive center fielder to ever play the game at this rate, although that’s a conversation for another day.
That being said, if Buxton continues where he left off in 2017, he could easily become the best player in the MLB over time. In reality, it all comes down to whether the offensive game has indeed come around. If it has, look out because he has all the tools you could possibly want in a baseball player.
Altogether, he’s the clear favorite to become the top Twins player, but presently, he isn’t quite at the level of his superior. Although with one consistent offensive year, he’s a lock to take over the top spot.