It’s easy to believe in Byron Buxton.
He’s an incredible athlete, with explosive speed on the bases, impressive power at the plate and a second-to-none ability to track down would-be hits in the outfield. He’s had stretches where he lived up to his expectations as the No. 2 overall pick of the 2012 MLB Draft; in the second half of 2017, Buxton hit .300 with an .893 OPS, 11 homers, 13 stolen bases and 40 runs scored in 57 games. He was so good that he received a handful of down-ballot MVP votes, despite a .594 first-half OPS.
Which brings us to the other side. It’s easy to be skeptical about Buxton, too. For some, it’s hard not to be wary of believing in him.
His transition to the majors was rocky, to say the least. He’s shown flashes of that immense talent, but the second half of 2017 was the first time he’s shown anything resembling consistency. And how did he follow that up? He hit .156 in 28 games in a disastrous 2018 campaign, dealing with a cavalcade of injuries and spending more healthy time in Triple-A Rochester than in the bigs.
But enough about the past. Let’s talk about the now.
Yes, it’s just spring training. Yes, it’s early. Yes, it’s just spring training (did we mention that already?). But, wow, Buxton has come into this year like a man on a mission. Through four games — we told you, it’s early — Buxton has three homers, 11 RBIs, six hits and a 2.070 OPS. Yes, it’s early.