Batter’s Box: The Bux Stops Here

Alright, let’s talk about Byron Buxton. The former top prospect in all of baseball has had quite the up and down MLB career so far (mostly down), but lately he’s been...

Alright, let’s talk about Byron Buxton. The former top prospect in all of baseball has had quite the up and down MLB career so far (mostly down), but lately he’s been crushing it, slashing .370/.400/.704 over the past 15 days, and he continued it in yesterday’s double header, going 3-8, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI between the two games. Up until he got sent down to the minors, Buxton had been awful, slashing .218/.292/.311 once he was sent down, but since he got called up at the beginning of August, he’s been on fire, slashing .333/.367/.597, and it’s got people wondering if he’s finally starting to live up to his potential. Well, count me as someone who’s in on Buxton right now. Something’s changed in Buxton, something since he got called up, he’s changed a bit as a hitter. Now, I won’t deny that some of this streak is luck-driven, he’s got a .408 BABIP since he got called up, that’s not going to stay, but there are some meaningful changes that have been made, specifically in quality of contact and plate discipline. Here are some stats for you to consider: up until he was sent down to the minors, Buxton’s strikeout rate was 30.8%, with a 13.4% whiff rate and a 71.4% contact rate, along with a 22.2% soft contact rate and a 25.7% hard hit rate. Since he’s been called up, he now has a strikeout rate at 25.6%, a whiff rate of 11.4%, a contact rate of 76.9%, a soft contact rate of 8.9%, and a hard hit rate of 30.4%. Those are some stark differences, and they essentially say that he’s striking out less, hitting the ball more, and hitting it way harder. Now, do I expect him to maintain a soft contact rate below 10%? No, nor do I expect the 23.5% HR/FB rate he’s had since being called up to stay, but I think Buxton has made a change that could limit the regression a bit and that could mean really good things for fantasy players the rest of the season. And he’s still available in around 53% of ESPN leagues.

Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Monday’s games:

Adam Jones (OF, BAL) – 4-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI. Adam Jones became the first Orioles center fielder since 1924 to go 4-4 with two home runs. It was a really impressive night for him, and honestly there isn’t much analysis here, I just felt he should be mentioned because of the awesome night he had. He’s a stud, and studs gonna stud.

Welington Castillo (C, BAL) – 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Honestly, the Orioles are stupid. I don’t know why they seem to think a timeshare between Castillo and Caleb Joseph is a good idea, especially considering Castillo has been hitting very well this year. But regardless, he’ll still get a decent amount of playing time (just not as much as I’d like) and he’s been slashing .333/.364/.608 over the past month. If you need help at catcher (and who doesn’t?) he makes a nice addition, and he’s available in around 66.7% of ESPN leagues.

Jorge Polanco (SS, MIN) – 2-7, 2 HR, 3 R, 6 RBI. I almost lead with Jorge Polanco, but I went with his teammate instead, however the two of them are both on amazing hot streaks. Polanco has been slashing .347/.390/.556 over the past month after starting the year off very disappointingly. There’s a lot of luck involved on both sides of this: Up until July 19th, when he was slashing .218/.269/.313, he had a .244 BABIP that was due to rise. Now, over his awesome month, he’s got a .404 BABIP that’s due to regress. He’s also seen a very slight increase in hard hit rate, however he’s seen a massive jump in his HR/FB rate, from 3% to 14.3% over those respective time spans, despite his hard hit rate only increasing from 26.5% to 29.5%. All of this is to say that Polanco was neither that bad, nor is he this good, he’s somewhere in between, but he’s on an awesome hot streak and you should ride that for all it’s worth. Oh, and he’s available in around 95.5% of ESPN leagues.

Nicky Delmonico (3B, CWS) – 1-6, 1 HR, 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB. I mentioned Delmonico in my hitters to start and avoid article earlier this week because, like Polanco, he’s on a great hot streak, slashing .343/.443/.642 since being called up to the majors. He also crushes righties, and the White Sox are seeing a fair number of righties this week, which is especially good for him (if you’re in a daily league, I’d still recommend him for this week). Now, he’s due for a regression, he’s got a .354 BABIP and a 33.3% HR/FB rate, however his 37% hard hit rate is a good sign, as is the fact that he’s walking 13.9% of the time and only striking out 16.5% of the time. Still, he’s a player worth taking advantage of while he’s hot, and he’s available in around 85.5% of ESPN leagues.

Curtis Granderson (OF, LAD) – 2-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 4 RBI. Granderson’s going to have a bad average, we all know that, but if you need power, he has it, as he’s been slugging .725 over the past 15 days. If you’re in an OBP league, he doesn’t hurt you as much, as his OBP is going to likely hover around league-average.

Ben Palmer

Senior columnist at Pitcher List. Lifelong Orioles fan, also a Ravens/Wizards/Terps fan. I also listen to way too much music, watch way too many movies, and collect way too many records.

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