The beloved baseball savant was a dynamic and clutch MLBbro who died too young but left a legacy of greatness behind. A diminutive firecracker who was built like a Mac Truck, Puckett brought class and World Series-superstar respect to the small market franchise in Minnesota.
Injuries robbed Byron Buxton from what could have an MVP caliber 2021 season. He is on track to return to the Twins lineup soon before entering the final year of his deal and it’s time for Minnesota to cash him out or send him to a contender.
With Buxton’s injury history, that won’t be an easy decision. His talent, however, is undeniable.
Buxton was the main attraction in Saint Paul, Minnesota this weekend as he made his return to action for the first time since June when his hand was broken after being hit by a pitch.
This season started off as promising for Buxton. He is the definition of a five-tool player, and it appeared he finally put everything together as he won the American Leagues player of the month award for his play in April.
At that point in time Buxton was the leader of the pack for the American League MVP award, but in May things came to an end when he injured his hamstring trying to beat out a ground ball late in a game against the Rangers.
Byron Buxton had a sprint speed of 30.9 ft/sec on his infield single!
Once Buxton was sidelined, the Twins season fell apart. They went from fighting with the White Sox for first place to having a major fire sale at the trade deadline. Even Buxton had his name thrown around in trade rumors after it was reported that he and the Twins couldn’t come to an agreement on a contract extension.
Buxton is a part of a star-studded 2023 free agency class that will also includes names such as Nolan Arenado and Xander Bogarts. Despite not having the All-Star appearances and hardware those two have, Buxton’s impact can have a similar affect on a team.
Health is a factor that should be taken into consideration when deciding on whether or not to ink Buxton to a long term deal, but judging by the way the Twins’ season crashed and burned without him, I believe they should back up a brinks truck to keep him as a cornerstone of the organization.
The Twins were not offered proper compensation for Buxton during this most recent trade deadline due to the fact teams were not sure of his status for the remainder of the season, but baseball is being cheated out of watching him display his talents in the race for October.
Buxton’s swing already looks Major League ready, so it’s possible he won’t need a long stint in Triple A before returning to the Twins. This week they’re scheduled for a three game set beginning Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox.
Minnesota Twins outfielder Nick Gordon is building a legacy of his own in his first season in the league.
The 25-year-old rookie has given the Twins a reason to keep him around. Whether he’s started games or has come off the bench, Gordon has gone out there given full effort.
The Twins can utilize Gordon in numerous ways. He has the ability to play in the infield and outfield. You can use him as a pinch runner with the speed he possesses and he can be used as a defensive replacement.
Don’t pay attention so much to the numbers because Gordon is a valuable asset to the Twins. He understands his role on the team and he knows that he has to stay ready at all times.
This is a critical season for Gordon because how he performs will help determine his future. It’s all about making the most of your time on that field. Gordon did that on July 23 against the Los Angeles Angels. That game, he went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
This brother can play and is very talented. It’s really no surprise that he’s still on the Twins roster. After all, they’re still trying to figure out how their outfield is going to look, with Team MVP Byron Buxton still on the injured list.
After only appearing in two games during May, Gordon hit the ground running in June. During the month of June he hit .318 in 44 at-bats. At that time, he was out to prove himself and show that he belongs in the league.
Well, he did just that and he started to put himself on notice throughout the league. This is a long season and as long as Gordon can continue to stay healthy, he will continue to see playing time on the field, especially towards the end of the season.
While his father was in attendance, all Nick could focus on was the game.
“I actually didn’t see him,” he told MLB.com. “I didn’t see him the entire game. I’m not really sure where he was sitting at. That’s usually not too hard to find. I usually find him. But I was kind of focused today. Kind of got on the field and really didn’t look up too much.”
Tom Gordon was excited to have the opportunity to watch his son play in an MLB game and it certainly won’t be the last time he attends a game.
“I want every ball he hits out of the park,” Tom Gordon said. “I want every ball to be hit hard. He sure better not make an error, because then I’m fussing about that. I think that comes with it. As much as I love it, I appreciate it.
“At the same time, I appreciate how much his teammates and friends and family, everybody that’s here, love him.”
When Nick hit his first home run, he didn’t know if it was going to go out or not. One thing he did know was that he got a good swing on the ball.
Hitting your first major league home run is a tremendous accomplishment, and it only took Gordon five games to hit his first.
“I wasn’t expecting to hit a homer,” he said. “I definitely didn’t off the bat think it was going to go that far. I just thought I got it pretty good and I looked up and it was gone. It felt pretty good.”
The 25-year-old has definitely given the Twins’ coaching staff multiple reasons to keep him in the lineup.
Speed kills, and for Nick, it works to his advantage. On the base path, he’s definitely a threat and can cause problems for defenses. He has five stolen bases on the season and that number will continue to increase as the season progresses.
The Twins can utilize him in the infield and outfield, and with his legs, he can track balls down in the outfield and take away hits.
If he keeps playing the way he has been playing this month, he will continue to see the field and have opportunities to become a player the Twins can use on a consistent basis.
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.
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.