MINNEAPOLIS -- After being called up on Sept. 1, Twins center fielder Byron Buxton hit .287/.357/.653 with nine homers, six doubles and two triples in 29 games, and he looked much more like the player who was ranked as MLBPipeline.com's No. 1 overall prospect for two years.
Buxton's hitting ability and power are still developing, but the 22-year-old eased some doubts about his long-term offensive potential with his strong September.
Statcast™ has improved the ability to measure all five of baseball's tools, and Buxton, named to the All-Statcast™ Team at the end of the season, is emerging as one of the game's true five-tool talents.
Even before his offensive breakout, Buxton was making an impact with his defense in center and with his baserunning ability. He is one of the fastest players in the Majors, along with Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton, and has been recorded by Statcast™ as throwing as hard as 99 mph from the outfield.
Buxton's speed is what really turns heads, as he registered the four fastest times to third base on triples by a right-handed hitter in 2016, and six of the top 10, including the top time of 10.69 seconds on June 3. He also broke the Statcast™ record by reaching home in 14.05 seconds on his inside-the-park homer on the last day of the season off former White Sox ace Chris Sale.
So with that in mind, here are five plays highlighted by Statcast™ that show off all five of Buxton's tools:
With a 3-2 count, Tigers ace Justin Verlander reared back and threw a 96.6-mph fastball that was crushed by Buxton into right-center for a homer that went a projected 418 feet on Sept. 22. Of the 30 homers allowed by Verlander, only one was thrown harder and only three had higher spin rates, per Statcast™. The dinger had a high launch angle of 28 degrees and an exit velocity of 104.4 mph, and balls hit at a similar launch angle and exit velocity have an expected batting average of .914. It was one of seven balls hit by Buxton that was categorized as "barreled" by Statcast™.
Buxton absolutely obliterated a two-run homer off Indians right-hander Danny Salazar on Sept. 9, as the ball had an exit velocity of 108.5 mph with a launch angle of 22 degrees to travel a projected 443 feet. It was the third-hardest-hit ball by Buxton by exit velocity, but it also traveled a projected 25 feet farther than any other ball he hit in 2016.
Buxton made his final game of the year a memorable one, as he led off with his first career inside-the-park homer on Oct 2. Buxton reached home in just 14.05 seconds, which shattered the record for the fastest time recorded by Statcast™ on an inside-the-parker. For context, the second-fastest time was Cameron Maybin's 14.85 seconds, which is nearly a second slower than Buxton. Buxton also reached a max speed of 21 mph, but he had several plays defensively where he topped 22 mph.
Buxton was a pitcher in high school whose fastball was clocked in the high 90s, and he showed off that arm strength when he nailed Angels superstar Mike Trout at the plate as he tried to score from second on a grounder up the middle on June 14. Trout, known as one of the game's best baserunners, was thrown out easily by Buxton, whose throw was registered at 99.4 mph and went 240 feet to home.
Buxton robbed Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz of a three-run homer on Sept. 23, racing back to the wall to make an incredible leaping catch. Buxton had a first-step quickness of 0.47 seconds, covering 94 feet with a route efficiency of 98.3 percent. The ball was crushed a projected 410 feet, and balls hit at a similar launch angle and exit velocity had an expected batting average of .900, with 80 percent going out for homers. It was one of many incredible defensive plays by Buxton in 2016.