Twins center fielder Byron Buxton made stellar plays throughout the season, resulting in plenty of game-changing catches and runs saved. His speed and instincts were on full display nearly every game, helping Buxton earn a nomination for Best Defensive Player and Best Play, Offense in this year's Esurance MLB Awards.Buxton
Twins center fielder Byron Buxton made stellar plays throughout the season, resulting in plenty of game-changing catches and runs saved. His speed and instincts were on full display nearly every game, helping Buxton earn a nomination for Best Defensive Player and Best Play, Offense in this year's Esurance MLB Awards.
Buxton led the Majors in four-star outs and Outs Above Average, according to Statcast™. He also had a .988 fielding percentage and six assists.
The man who helped engineer the Twins' remarkable turnaround, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, was nominated for Best Executive. Minnesota snagged an American League Wild Card during Falvey's first season after finishing in last place in the AL Central in 2016.
Minnesota manager Paul Molitor, who won the AL Manager of the Award on Tuesday, is nominated in the Best Manager category after spearheading that turnaround on the field. Under Molitor, the Twins became the first team ever to go from losing 100 games to making the postseason in one year.
• Vote for this season's best stars and moments in the Esurance MLB Awards
The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor MLB's greatest achievements as part of an industry-wide balloting process that includes five groups, each of which accounts for 20 percent of the overall vote: Media, front-office personnel, retired MLB players, fans at MLB.com and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) members.
The MLB Awards are an all-inclusive program, encompassing the top players and performances from both the American and National Leagues from Opening Day through the end of the postseason.
Voting led off with seven categories on Sept. 18 at mlb.com/awards, serving as the grand entrance of a program that unveiled nominees for Best Call, TV/Radio; Best Major Leaguer, Postseason; and Best Postseason Moment following the Fall Classic's final out. The ninth inning of voting began around BBWAA Awards week, which opened when the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award winners were unveiled on Monday. Voting for the final categories begins at 7 p.m. ET on the following dates:
• Best Executive: Thursday, Nov. 9
• Best Rookie: Monday
• Best Manager: Tuesday
• Best Pitcher: Wednesday
• Best Major Leaguer: Thursday
MLB Awards season will culminate on Friday, when winners are announced live on MLB Network and MLB.com starting at 8 p.m. ET.
One of his best plays of the year came Aug. 12 against the Tigers with Jose Cabrera at the plate. Buxton emerged with an unbelievable diving catch toward right field near the warning track, a projected 411 feet from home plate.
"As hard as he hit it, I thought it was going to stay straight," Buxton said. "But I took a glance at the wall, and once I looked back, I realized it was on [the left] side of my shoulder. I had a little bit of time to turn my head back the other way and pick the ball back up."
Nearly a week later, Buxton hit an inside-the-park home run against the D-backs on Aug. 18, circling the bases in a mere 13.85 seconds to break the record for the fastest inside-the-park home run ever tracked by Statcast™. It's nominated for Best Play, Offense in this year's Esurance MLB Awards.
Buxton's ascent after struggling with strikeouts for much of his young career mirrors what the Twins did in 2017, their first season with Falvey as Chief Baseball Officer. Minnesota is the first team in MLB history to make the playoffs one year after losing 100 games. Falvey joined the team in the offseason after a tenure with the Indians that included work as a scout and assistant general manager.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com.