LOS ANGELES – The Minnesota Twins have hit a dry spell, with their lead man at the center of it.
Byron Buxton, who made his first All-Star appearance this year as a starter, just got placed on the 10 day injured list (a very familiar place throughout his career) with a strain in his right hip.
He entered the first year of his seven-year, $100 million extension last offseason. The year was filled with high expectations, and with the signing of superstar shortstop Carlos Correa, this was expected to be an electric duo to elevate Minnesota the top of the AL Central.
Everything was going as planned at the beginning. In his first 24 games of the season, Buxton was doing his part, as he was batting .256, with 11 home runs, 20 RBI, and only struck out 28 times. He had a .323 on-base percentage, and .678 slugging percentage during the stretch. People were calling him the early MVP and the Twins were able to get off to a lead in the division race.
The last 68 games, however, have mostly been mediocre. While his hot start earned him the All-Star spot, as well as being tied for third in the AL in home runs with 28, the rest of the numbers have not been great. And now he is back on the IL, and the Twins have fallen out of first place and are now outside of the playoffs looking in.
Rocco Baldelli, manager of the Twins, talked about this unfortunate news but also how this time away will be beneficial for Buxton.
“It’s very tough news, of course, but also knowing with what Buck’s been dealing with, there wasn’t actually much of a decision to be made…His knee has [also] been a fairly consistent issue since April, so I think this period of time will help that also settle down.”
His recurring knee injury and now the hip injury is problematic. The trip to the IL could not have come at a worse time, with Minnesota fighting for their playoff lives.
Buxton has all the tools in the world to become a superstar in this game. He can hit for power, he has got lightning speed, and he is the best defensive outfielder in the MLB. So why is he not a superstar? It all has to do with the injuries.
Big Bux Can’t Stay Healthy
Sure, players will get hurt throughout the season, as they have to play 162 games, but at this point, with him being 28 years old, entering his prime, and being the face of the franchise, it is getting a little ridiculous how often he’s out.
Throughout his minor league and his major league career, Buxton constantly gets hurt and spends a good chunk of time on the IL. Whether that’s from sacrificing his body by making ridiculous catches, or just his body giving out. It seems like every time something good is going for him, a new injury brings it to a halt.
If Buxton ever wants to reach that superstar billing, he needs to figure out a way to try and avoid these injuries and have more longevity for the rest of his career. Maybe a new trainer or diet or something. Because if he doesn’t, 20 years down the road he is going to be talked about as a “what could’ve been” player.