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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: BYRON BUXTON OUTFIELDER MINNESOTA TWINS

During the 2015 fantasy baseball season, a prime Minnesota Twins prospect came up and immediately took the major leagues by storm with his supreme talent.  Looking like a future star from the jump, Byron Buxton.......I mean Miguel Sano went on a power-hitting rampage and instantly showed himself to be a top home run weapon for the team going into the future.  Yes it was Sano and not Buxton who made hay in 2015 for the Twins and with the 2016 season fast approaching, we are still waiting on the supremely talented latter to show what he can do.  It has been a tough slog for Buxton over the last two seasons due to injuries and some less-than-impressive offensive numbers but the hype machine is still working at a high level here.  The Twins have big plans for Buxton in 2016 but will he be up to the task?  Let's dig in and find out where we are with the kid.  

Before we go on further, we must get some perspective here.  Despite the feeling that we have been discussing Buxton for years, he goes into the new season still very young at the age of 22.  So that miniscule age alone shows that Buxton still has more than a few seasons of ceiling left before he reaches his maximum potential.  Still there is no denying the fact that Buxton was simply not ready to be a major leaguer in 2015 as his debut with the Twins was a disaster to the tune of a .209 average with just 2 home runs and 2 steals in 138 at-bats.  Striking out in 31.9 percent of his at-bats, Buxton showed that he needed a bit more seasoning.  That is what 2016 spring training should be all about for Buxton as he comes in healthy and has two months to get his game in gear before he gets another shot.  With Aaron Hicks sent packing to the New York Yankees, a starting outfield spot is there for the taking. 

Now in rehashing the talents of Buxton, the projections on the guy have centered on his big-time speed and stolen base ability to go with developing power and average.  "Future 20/20 star" has been bandied about more than a little concerning Buxton but we have to shelve that for now as he first has to show he can hit major league pitching.  The 31.9 percent K rate was a big problem last season for Buxton but he did bat .283 at Double-A before the promotion.  Also one only has to look at Dee Gordon as an example of a young hitter who came up really struggling with the bat before making adjustments that turned him into a big asset there (and in Gordon's case even winning the batting title).  While we don't see Buxton hitting anywhere near .300 yet, we can so improvement to the .265 range which is steady progress. 

As far as the power and speed, the latter is the one statistic Buxton should excel at right away.  his speed is tremendous and if Buxton can get on base enough, 25 steals are very much in play with about 70 runs scored.  The power will be more of a work in progress as Buxton is a bit ground-ball heavy right now and even in the minors he had yet to reach double-digits at any one level.  7-10 is about where we have Buxton for 2016 but that will only increase as he grows into his frame and adds more power. 

When you put it all together, there is some post-hype sleeper upside here when it comes to Buxton and his 2016 fantasy baseball prospects.  We love the speed and developing tools but Buxton can only be graded as an outfielder 3 at this point in his young career. 

2016 PROJECTION:  .263 8 HR 53 RBI 73 R 19 SB 

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