Byron Buxton is set to begin his rehab stint in Triple-A St. Paul with the hopes of returning to the Big League club this weekend. Buxton has been seen running at 100 percent. If all goes well, he should return to the Twins’ lineup for their weekend series in Minnesota against Michael Brantley and the Houston Astros.
He will look to reclaim the starting job in centerfield for the American League All-Star team and put his name back in the conversation for Most Valuable Player.
Buxton came out the gate throwing harder haymakers than Ali to begin this season. It seemed he had finally put all five tools together as he hit .370 with nine home runs, 17 RBI and five stolen bases in his first 24 games of the year.
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In April, he was awarded the AL Player of the Month Award after batting .426 with a .466 On Base Percentage, eight home runs, 14 RBI, 15 Runs Scored and three steals. He also set Twins’ franchise records for March and April in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS.
His defensive play in centerfield had him on his way to winning the first Gold Glove of his career. On May 6, Buxton hit a grounder to the shortstop in the late innings of what would end up being a loss to the Texas Rangers.
Buxton has always been a hustler as he has beaten out multiple routine plays throughout his career.
This time as Buxton crossed first base it was apparent something was wrong. He did not return to the game and ended up having a Grade 2 right hip strain, which put him on the Injured List for the last 30 games.
His absence has truly shown how valuable Buxton truly is to Minnesota. Buxton had a Wins Above Replacement rating of 2.7 before his injury, good for third in MLB. Marcus Semien, who won the AL Player of the Month for May, is tied with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for first in the American League with a WAR of 3.1.
The Twins were sitting in first before Buxton went down and since then are 13-17 and have fallen into last place, 12 games behind the first-place White Sox in the AL Central.
Buxton is returning just in time to have his name in conversations to be at this year’s All-Star Game next month in Denver. Fan voting determines the starting lineup for each division while the managers decide on the rest of the rosters.
I believe the fans will handle their business and vote Buxton as the centerfield starter despite him missing time with a few injuries this season.
The All-Star Game is a collection of the greatest talent in the sport, and fans will be cheated if they are not able to see Buxton chase down balls in centerfield while hitting home runs out of the launching pad that is Coors Field.