Twins

What if Byron Buxton Stays Healthy This Time?

Photo credit: Mike Dinovo (USA TODAY Sports)

Byron Buxton has been teasing Minnesota Twins fans for the past five years. The 26-year-old centerfielder has shown that he can be a star defensively, making flashy plays and sacrificing his body to get an out by any means necessary. Now he appears to have found his swing. Will this be the first time we see Buxton dominate and stay healthy?

He has shown us he can be a great two-way player in the past, one that the Twins could depend on long term, but this is not the first time that Buxton has had a hot streak. He has gotten hot on offense before, gotten hurt and slumped after returning.

However, this strange abbreviated season could be exactly what Buxton needed. With fewer games this year, it seems that there have been fewer injuries — Jake Odorizzi being the exception. And with only one visit to the injured list, Buxton has been able to get in more consistent reps and live up to his hype.

Injuries and offensive woes

After being drafted No. 2 overall in the 2012 draft, Buxton was considered the next great outfielder for the Twins. He has been one of the best outfielders in all of Major League Baseball, but it seems that all too often there is a highlight on Twitter or Instagram of him slamming into a wall in centerfield, followed by a report that he has injured a shoulder or has a concussion.

This in turn has affected his development at the plate.

He only has two seasons with more than 300 plate appearances, and in both of those seasons, he hit above his average slash line (.240/.290/.431). In short, he’s dangerous offensively when he’s healthy.

In 2018 he only appeared in 28 games and had his worst offensive season, hitting .156/.183/.200. But this season he was also injured four different times and spent the summer with Rochester from June 19 to Oct. 2.

When Buxton played in a career-high 140 games in 2017, he hit .253/.314/.413 with 51 RBIs — the best offensive season of his career — won a Gold Glove and was named MLB Defensive Player of the Year.

This is what makes Buxton a potential franchise player. His floor is bad, like really bad. But when he is able to stay healthy he is one of the best players at his position.

September hasn’t been too hot but Buck has

After being activated from the injured list on Sept. 1, Buxton has shown that he can be a top two-way talent in this league. His current hot streak made jaws drop. There were shades of Torii Hunter.

Buxton’s last 15 games have made him seem like he’s playing MLB the Show on rookie mode (like I do most evenings). He is hitting .340/.353/.800 with seven home runs — should be eight, thanks Eloy Jimenez — and 13 RBIs.

He can go on stretches like his offensively, but the Twins will not have as easy of a decision to make come contract season.

With so many outfield prospects coming of age and getting ready to join the major league roster —Alex Kirilloff and Brent Rooker to name a few — Buxton needs to keep competing at the level he is now to make the decision easy. They will have to consider whether or not this season is a one-off or if Buxton is taking the leap.

Either way you look at it, it seems that Buxton has figured out what’s troubled him offensively. Now we’ll get to see what a healthy Buxton can do in the postseason.

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Photo credit: Mike Dinovo (USA TODAY Sports)

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