One of the most interesting stories in Major League Baseball history is the three-way relationship between the team, the player and their fanbase.
The uneasy partnership varies from love/hate to sometimes toxic. One of the more recent examples was in Oakland when the team set franchise records in futility for attendance with crowds between 2000-3000 fans at the beginning of the season.
While the most publicized storyline of the season resides in New York where MLBbro Aaron Judge decided to leave a $230 million extension on the table and is currently leading baseball in homers.
But the most intriguing storyline is in Minnesota surrounding the playing time of their superstar and our MLBbro, Byron Buxton. Not only is he the undisputed best player of the Twins, but he is also the best baseball player in the world if you ask his teammate Carlos Carrera via the New York Times.
“He’s the best player in the world, no doubt about it,”
The Twins have played close to a quarter of their 2022 schedule and their fan base, despite their team projected to hit close to triple digits in wins this season, are getting more and more frustrated by each passing series.
Fans want to see Buxton in the lineup everyday while the team plans to play him approximately 100-110 games this season to monitor and protect the right knee patella tendinitis that has limited him to an average of 54 games the last four seasons.
It’s really easy to understand the frustrations from the fan perspective. When Byron Buxton plays, this team wins and wins a lot. Since 2019, Minnesota has the best winning percentage at .634 in team history with a 130-75 record. To put this in perspective, the 1965 pennant winning team is next in line at .630. The narrative is clear here. When our MLBbro, Byron Buxton plays, the Twins are exciting to watch and win games at a high clip.
On the other hand, the pendulum swings the other way when Buxton is out of the lineup. Minnesota has a 96-110 record when he’s sidelined.
Now the discussion goes to the franchise that signed our MLBbro to a seven-year, $100 million contract with a “no trade” clause. The Twins medical staff requires him to take days off for therapy and rest on his knee. Putting Buxton in the lineup at DH is not a viable option because swinging aggravates his knee. With aspirations of a World Series in sight, the team is making sure that Buxton’s knee is not problematic during the postseason.
Plus, the Twins have a long list of injury issues with their superstar. Since 2015, Buxton has had injuries to his left thumb, both wrists, left big toe, groin, left shoulder and right hip. Throw in migraines and a concussion, it’s easy to see why the franchise have been ultra-careful with their biggest prize in Byron.
Whether he’s called the best or injury prone, our MLBbro just wants to get healthy and play to the best of his abilities which leads to wins.
“That doesn’t matter to me, either,” Buxton said. “For me to do that, I’ve got to go out there and prove that. I know I haven’t played enough games, but I know I can be that, which is fun to me. That’s what keeps me on my toes – something’s always gonna happen. There’s that anxiousness. For me that’s a challenge, and I like challenges.”
The challenge for the Minnesota Twins for the rest of the season is selling to their fans that resting Byron Buxton for periods throughout the season is a necessary evil to make a deep postseason run.
Why? Because the fans have the mindset of Carlos Carrera when it comes to our MLBbro.
“Nobody has more talent than him. Nobody throws harder. Nobody runs faster. So when you talk about talent and you talk about tools, this is the most gifted out of all of them out there.”
The question surrounding the organization now is…How much do Minnesota fans get to witness going forward this season?