It's been said before, but perhaps this really is the year Byron Buxton has a full breakout and dominants from start to finish.
Members of Baseball America like Buxton's chances, with one front office source telling BA that they're betting Buxton "puts the bat together with the speed and defense" this season.
BA's Ben Badler picked Buxton for his bold prediction:
"His defense in center field is so good that he can be a four-win player as a league-average hitter. But there’s more upside in his bat that’s starting to click, which can vault him into MVP conversations."
Staff from The Ringer are on board with Buxton's ascent, saying he could become a household name in 2018.
"Even with the first-half millstone around his neck, Buxton was an All-Star–caliber player last year. In fact, if he’d put up his second-half numbers before the break and slumped down the stretch, Buxton probably would have been an All-Star. BP rated him at 4.3 WARP, almost exactly the same as Bryce Harper in about the same number of plate appearances. If Buxton continues to be a two-way threat in 2018, he’ll be a top-20 position player, and almost certainly the most exciting player in the league. The Hall of Fame–level hype of his teenage years has come and gone, but Buxton is emerging as a star nonetheless."
Buxton hit .300/.347/.546 in the second half of last season and was rated the 15th-most valuable position player in all of baseball by FanGraphs, which tied Aaron Judge of the Yankees, per The Ringer.
Adding to Buxton's potential star power is his speed on the bases. He was successful on 29 of 30 stolen base attempts last season, with his lone out coming on an overslide in Baltimore. This season, he wants 50 steals, per the Star Tribune.
“Why don’t he steal 60?” Brian Dozier told the Star Tribune when hearing about Buxton's goal. “Why don’t he steal 100? I’m not going to put a ceiling on that guy. You’re only scratching the surface with what that guy can accomplish.”
The expectation is that Buxton will bat fifth or six most days to begin the season. The top of the order appears set with Brian Dozier leading off followed by Joe Mauer, Miguel Sano and Logan Morrison.
The Twins open the season in Baltimore on Mar. 29.