June 13 has been a special day in Byron Buxton's professional baseball career.
It was June 13, 2012 when Buxton signed with the Twins after being taken second overall in the MLB Draft. Three years later – on June 13, 2015 – he was called up to the big leagues by the Twins, making his MLB debut the next day.
Now, after hitting a game-tying, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Mariners, Buxton woke up Thursday, June 13, 2019, to the fewest questions about his abilities that he's faced since making the jump from Double-A to the big leagues.
In fact, Buxton's 63 games this season have been impressive enough to essentially shred all remaining doubt about his potential. And we're not just talking about his ability to run down line drives in the gaps and turn singles into doubles: Buxton is damn near flashing the five-tool ability that he showed as a high school phenom in Baxley, Georgia.
Buxton is baseball's best defensive outfielder. Not by opinion. He's the best by definition.
According to Statcast, Buxton leads all MLB outfielders in Outs Above Average (OAA), which essentially a scoring system for all catches made and the difficulty of making each catch.
Buxton has three five-star catches, one four-star catch and is a perfect 11-for-11 on three-star catch opportunities. A three-star catch opportunity carries an average catch rate of 51-75%, according to Statcast.
Remember when Buxton gunned down Shohei Ohani at the plate in May? Buxton unleashed a 98.6 mph throw with little more than a single step into the throw. Just as impressive was Buxton's 300-foot throw to double up a runner in Tampa Bay. The ball left his arm at a ridiculous 97.1 mph.
Buxton has 10 stolen bases and could get to 30 this season, which isn't half bad in the modern game. But Buxton continues to sizzle on the base paths, turning singles into doubles like it's nothing and constantly putting pressure on the defense when he is on base.
But again, by definition, Buxton is one of the game's fastest players.
Statcast tracks speed with a measurement called "bolts," which are defined as any time a player reaches a sprinting speed of 30-feet per second. That's elite speed, and Buxton is second in the majors with 40 bolts this season. Only Kansas City's Adalberto Mondesi (49 bolts) has more.
Additionally, Buxton's fastest time from home plate to first base this season is 3.98 seconds. That ranks third, trailing Cody Bellinger (3.89 seconds) and Billy Hamilton (3.93 seconds. Do note, however, that Bellinger and Hamilton are lefties, thus they have an advantaged over the right-handed Buxton.
Hitting for power
Buxton has just nine homers this season, but eight of them have come in his last 22 games. He's got natural athletic power and he should hit 20+ homers this season, and it wouldn't be a total shock if he pushes close to 30 home runs.
And hitting for power in the modern game is more than clearing the fence, it's about slugging percentage and Buxton is slugging .537, which is better than Eddie Rosario (.533) and Rosario has 19 homers.
Buxton's 33 extra-base hits (9 homers, 21 doubles, 3 triples) are just one behind American League leaders Mike Trout, Jorge Soler and Trey Mancini.
Hitting for average
Buxton's batting average is .271 for the season, but he's hitting .354 in June. It's still not where it needs to be to be considered a full-blown five-tool player, but if he keeps hitting like he has of late and finds a way to hit closer to .300 for the season, he'll definitely be in the mix.
Of course, being a five-tool player through 60 or so games of a season doesn't make Buxton a bonafide five-tool star. But the potential has always been there and he's now putting forth a consistent effort to live up to that potential.
Last fun fact: Buxton's 2.9 WAR is second among AL outfielders, trailing only Trout. Not bad for a dude hitting ninth...