Monday, September 28, 2015
Buxton's September More Important Than Good
Baseball's top prospect has played in 41 games at the big league level for the Twins this year. He's got 129 plate appearances and is slashing .207/.244/.306 in that time. So far, Buxton has seven doubles, one triple, and his first big league home run to his name. On the surface none of those numbers jumps off the page.
If you'd like to dig a little deeper, things have been better of late. Spared starts down the stretch with the playoffs on the line, Buxton hasn't gotten regular action. When he has gotten them though, he's made them count. In his last three starts dating back to September 15, Buxton is 4-9 (.444) with three runs, two RBI, two doubles, and his first big league home run. Sure, it's a tiny sample size, but it's also a nice boost.
That brings us to where Buxton is in his development, and just how important September has been to the Twins future centerfielder.
With Minnesota in the midst of a playoff race, and Buxton in the dugout every day, even when he isn't being asked to produce, he's growing. Although the Twins would have no doubt liked to see Buxton with a slash line more reflective of fellow rookies Eddie Rosario or Miguel Sano, September will go down to be an important part of the future stars development.
Knowing that centerfield will be his for years to come, Minnesota, Terry Ryan, and Molitor have afforded Buxton a huge opportunity to end this season. With big games on the line, Buxton has prepared every day to compete and contribute. Knowing that 2016 is going to be the point in which he's asked to carry a heavier load, and be playing in meaningful September games, it's now that the 21 year old finds his launching point.
The "important" numbers say that Buxton has hit a paltry .200/.238/.350 with just four extra base hits during the month of September. Really though, the more important numbers for the young phenom include 20 games played, 12 starts, 43 plate appearances, and 115 innings. Racking up vital time on the diamond during the season's most important moments will only help to push the ceiling during the early weeks of the 2016 season.
Not all prospects get the added value that comes with the timeline Buxton has been afforded. Aaron Hicks was the latest to be thrown into the fire, and it took him a while to catch up. Because of where the Twins are, Buxton's September has been incredibly important, even if the numbers say it hasn't been all that good.