Byron Buxton's goal of having a big 2019 season is off to an impressive start this spring.
The 25-year-old former No. 2 overall draft pick went 2-for-2 with a homer and five RBI in his spring debut on Saturday, and on Monday he went 3-for-3 with a two-run, bases-loaded double, an RBI single and a two-run homer.
Add it up: Buxton is 5-for-5 with two homers and 10 RBI in two games.
Buxton told reporters prior to arriving in Fort Myers, Florida for spring training that he added 21 pounds to his frame by working out twice a day during the offseason. He's bigger, stronger and reportedly just as fast.
More importantly, he's confident.
"He looks like he's having fun from the time he comes in the dugout pregame until we slap him five and he goes back in," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said Monday. "He's obviously swung the bat really well, and I think it's a nice way to start the spring for him. He looks great."
To whom does Buxton owe credit for fixing his swing that was broken in 2018?
“The whole offseason, it was just myself,” Buxton said Tuesday, via The Athletic (paywall). “It’s my swing, my thought process, my thinking, everything with my swing now is me. I didn’t go to no hitting coach, I didn’t go work out with nobody, I worked out by myself, I hit by myself and that’s where it’s going to stay.
“I’m clearer now than I ever was.”
Buxton, who battled numerous injuries including a swing-hampering broken toe last season, says he's no longer using a leg kick and it's helped him simply step into the ball.
Twins Daily's Parker Hageman has long been watching Buxton's ever-changing hitting mechanics. In 2017, when Buxton was tearing up MLB pitching during his best stretch as a pro, Hageman tracked five variations of Buxton's mechanics.
- Leg kick, open stance, hand movement
- No leg kick, open stance, hand movement
- No stride, foot lift, closed stance, higher hand movement
- No stride, no foot lift, closed stance, lower hand movement
- Foot stride, closed stance, lower hands and less movement
Buxton was terrible to start the 2017 season, but once he ditched the leg kick and reduced pre-swing movement he became a force in the middle of the Twins' batting order.
Hageman believes Buxton's current swing is similar to the one he finished 2017 with, and that's nothing but good news for the Twins.