Never blink, Minnesota Twins fans.
If you do, you might miss outfielder Byron Buxton’s rise to stardom. And you’re guaranteed to miss him sprinting around the bases.
Buxton hit a fly ball off a panel in right-center field and legged out the 53rd inside-the-park home run in Twins history during Friday’s 10-3 win over the Diamondbacks. His trip around the bases was clocked at 13.85 seconds, the fastest home-to-home time since it was first tracked by Statcast in 2015.
— #Statcast (@statcast) August 19, 2017
The previous record was 14.05 seconds, which was held (of course) by Buxton himself, set in 2016.
The inside-the-park home run in the fourth inning of Friday’s game followed a stand-up triple in the second. Buxton went on to hit a stand-up double in the sixth inning, setting up a chance to become the first 11th Twins player to hit for the cycle and the first since Michael Cuddyer in 2009.
Unfortunately, Buxton hit a screaming line drive right at the second baseman and the cycle was ceased.
Buxton’s flirtation with the cycle certainly didn’t come out of nowhere. Since July 4, he owns a .366 batting average, which ranks second in the American League and fifth in Major League Baseball.
But we’ve seen a stretch like this before from the former top prospect.
After Buxton was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on Aug. 8, 2016, he came back to the Twins in the beginning of September on a tear, hitting nine home runs in final 29 games.
Compare that stretch to this one, and you’ll see Buxton is getting on base more frequently and has a .460 batting average on balls in play, compared to .370 in the last month of the 2016 season.
|Sept. 1 – Oct. 2, 2016||101||24||9||22||10||38||.287||.357||.653||.370|
|July 4 – Aug. 22, 2017||93||21||5||15||7||27||.366||.402||.613||.460|
Cue the baseball cliché: Good things happen when you put the ball in play.
Buxton’s wins above replacement (WAR), which measures value compared to the average player, sits at a team-leading 3.7. Brian Dozier (2.9), All-Star Miguel Sano (2.5) and Joe Mauer (2.1) trail the 23-year-old.
His 2.49 defensive WAR ranks third overall in MLB, just behind Boston outfielder Mookie Betts (2.54) and shortstop Andrelton Simmons (3.13) of the Angels.
What do all these stats mean?
Buxton is fast. And he might be developing into a MLB star even quicker than he can run the bases, which is pretty hard to beat.
Statistics courtesy STATS, MLB.com, Statcast