Despite an outstanding 5-1 start to the season, the Twins have a problem that has to be solved in a hurry. In order for a team to win a lot, they need every player to hit some. It may feel like everyone is hitting, but that is not the case. The player who the Twins were hoping to lead the team in the future is looking lost again at the plate.
Center fielder Byron Buxton was hoping to start the season hitting like he was last September when he notched nine home runs. However, he has had a very disappointing start to 2017. To make the big league club, Buxton averaged .283 with 13 hits and 9 doubles this spring. But since the season started, he has looked completely overmatched, and sometimes lost, when hitting. Buxton is swinging at balls that are way out of the strike zone, which questions his capabilities of hitting major league pitching. Through six games this year, his offensive production has been nonexistent. Buxton has a .077 batting average to go along with 14 strike outs and two hits—and, miraculously, this in just 27 at-bats!
Buxton’s fielding expertise is saving him from being axed from the line-up. The 23-year-old has made some sweet catches to rob some runs. But making game-saving catches cannot be the only criteria for keeping him in the line-up.
In the first four games, Buxton was in the third spot of the batting order. When he kept striking out, Manager Paul Manager demoted him to batting seventh on Saturday, with Buxton remaining stagnant in that spot. Buxton’s struggles seem more prominent because he has come up with men on base more times than not and hasn’t been able to bring them in. If he keeps up this trend, the Twins should bench or send Buxton to Triple-A and bring up either Zach Granite or Daniel Palka.
As much as the Twins want to be patient with the Georgia native, they can’t afford any hiccups with this being their best start in years. Buxton will be General Manager Thad Levine’s first in-season, big decision that could indicate the direction of this year. Will Levine let him struggle or will we see a move made?
Written by: Michael L. Sack