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Injury Cloud Surrounds Buxton's Breakout Season

Twins fans know where Byron Buxton’s season started. Even with a tremendous diving catch on Opening Day, Buxton quickly found himself mired in a terrible offensive slump to start the year. He eventually found himself at the plate and went on to be named Twins Daily's Most Improved Player. Fans have seen him play the game with reckless abandon.

Should Twins fans be worried about the long-term effects of Buxton’s lengthening list of injuries?
Image courtesy of Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Minor League Injuries
Buxton burst onto the scene in 2013, his first full minor league season but he missed some time after suffering a shoulder injury. This prevented him from fully participating in the Arizona Fall League. The 2014 season saw him hurt his wrist during spring training and he reinjured it on a slide shortly after returning from the DL. In his Double-A debut, he violently collided with another outfielder which resulted in a season-ending concussion. Minnesota sent him to the AFL and he proceeded to break his finger on a dive for the ball.

2017 Injuries
During the 2017 campaign, Buxton missed time with a variety of injuries. In the middle of July, he missed time with a groin injury and migraine headaches. The groin injury was sustained while hustling around to score on a Brian Dozier RBI double. He occasionally dealt with the headaches after colliding with the outfield wall back in early May. By late August, Buxton missed more time with a left hamate bone injury. He was fortunate to avoid a fracture after taking a hard swing at a ball.

Buxton’s last injury might be the one fans remember the most since it happened in the team’s final game. In the second inning with Todd Frazier batting, Buxton chased down a ball while crashing into the center field wall.

He tried to play through the pain and did so by beating out a potential double-play grounder, allowing the tying run to score. He then stole second base but he was clearly not comfortable. During the game, the announcers called his injury “upper-back tightness.” Some reports called it a cracked rib in the days following the game. This meant multiple tests for Buxton which came back with a report of no fracture, but no other diagnosis.

Looking To The Future
Earlier this fall, I wrote about how Buxton seemed to have moved from broken to booming. While this still might be the case, there needs to be some concern about his injury history. His all-out effort is one of the reasons for the value Buxton provides the Twins.

Buxton was asked about his catch in the Wild Card game. “Once I picked up where the wall was and realized I was going to take a pretty good hit, I just put all my focus onto the ball and held onto the ball,” he told the Pioneer Press. “If you try to shield yourself, you’re going to be passive toward the ball and not as aggressive. I like to play this game aggressively and go out and have a lot of fun.”

It might be fun to see Buxton making diving and leaping catches but will his aggressive nature lead to more injuries in the future? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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Old Twins Cap
Oct 09 2017 10:32 PM

He's a wiry guy, with long legs and a lean frame.And he plays with abandon.


That's not a great combination in MLB.


It might be helpful to look at comps for Buxton, Willie McGee comes to wind, maybe even Willie Wilson.


If he doesn't pull a lot of muscles running and swinging and throwing, then it may come down to how often he crashes full speed into walls, and how often he leaves his hands out front on high inside fastballs.


It's luck and pluck and conditioning, avoiding injuries. Good luck Buck.

    • frightwig likes this
Oct 10 2017 12:57 AM

i'd say more eric davis than wilson or mcgee. but all three had young debuts and long careers.

I think he's a major league ballplayer and that major league ballplayers get injured from time to time. He didn't miss that much time this year.


Be far more concerned about Miguel Sano.

    • Jerr, gil4, jbissell and 1 other like this

As has been discussed for years, it's very concerning. It's a good reason to keep a guy like Granite around as your 4th OF. He can step in and play very well on defense while Buxton is resting or on the DL.

    • SentryJet likes this

Jason Kubel was never the same after wrecking his knee.I hope we never say the same thing about Buxton, but I'm not optimistic.

Oct 10 2017 10:25 AM

Nearly all of Buxton's injuries are trauma.Buxton is a young, healthy man.He will heal and be fine.The injuries to worry about are repetitive motion or stress injuries.Like Miguel Sano's.

    • Jerr likes this

Yeah, "playing the game with reckless abandon" is usually why Buxton gets hurt. This last time in New York, I'm not even sure why he jumped into the wall--did he misjudge the ball, did he expect that jumping into the wall would be the easiest way to stop, or was he just showboating a bit? The jump looked cool; I'm not convinced it was necessary. It looked like he was under the ball, anyway. If he keeps playing that way through the 162-game grind, year after year, he's going to keep hurting himself.


I've had this feeling since I first saw that clip of him crashing into a teammate in the minors, that he might be an accident waiting to happen if he didn't learn better fundamentals and awareness of situations when he's trying to make a play. I hope he learns to dial it back a bit, even if it means that he can't make so many 4-star catches. It would serve him well when his legs start to lose a step, anyway. And it really would be a shame if he's another one of those guys who didn't reach his potential because of that one fateful day when he went all-out into disaster.


He occasionally dealt with the headaches after colliding with the outfield wall back in early May.


This, along with the fact that he had a concussion in 2014, also really concerns me.

He missed time because of a groin strain and hand issue. Neither had anything to do with his playing style. Quit worrying. Last year we wondered if he would ever stick in the bigs.....
    • Carole Keller likes this

Asking Byron Buxton to adjust his defensive playing style is like asking a Lion to eat vegetables. 

    • Carole Keller, USAFChief, Jerr and 4 others like this

Play hard.As hard as you can.To do less doesn't make you immune from injury, and is an insult to the game.

    • Carole Keller, Riverbrian, Monkeypaws and 2 others like this

He is awesome at making these plays, but I think he has a long ways to go on being graceful at the wall, particularly after he makes the catch.


You almost never see him have a "soft landing." Maybe that's because unless he goes that hard he's not going to make the play, but Torii Hunter almost always came down from plays at the wall in a smooth manner. They should get him working with him on those plays.

    • Longdistancetwins likes this
Riverbrian and Chief got it right. Watching BB go wild in the field are some of my favorite Twin moments, and I watched Bob Allison play. Generational excellence should never be second guessed. BB is still just 23. He'll learn in time not to kill himself. Hell, Tori's ran through an outfield wall in his youth
    • Riverbrian and Hosken Bombo Disco like this
Oct 10 2017 03:38 PM

yeah, I don't think it's wise to ask him to take something off his style of play.


I do, however, think that he would be wise to try and bulk up a little this offseason. It might hurt him a tad in the speed department, but a little extra padding would probably go a long way to absorb some shock. It might also help his power game. I'm not sure if the outcome would much in terms of his impact, but it might keep him on the field more.

Oct 10 2017 06:53 PM

Nearly all of Buxton's injuries are trauma.Buxton is a young, healthy man.He will heal and be fine.The injuries to worry about are repetitive motion or stress injuries.Like Miguel Sano's.

Trauma includes things like concussions, torn ligaments, and even internal organ damage. Injuries can be recovered from, until one day they can't. And with some injuries, there is a cumulative effect.

Oct 10 2017 07:38 PM

doesn't make you immune from injury

I don't think anyone was making this the goal or standard.


You're probably familiar with the concept of an S-shaped curve. The disagreement seems mainly about where we each see Buxton on that curve, with regard to bodily risk versus accomplishment. My own opinion is dialing back just a little, an inch or so to the left on that curve, ought to be possible without losing too much.


I'm with you about respecting the game. I've shouted variations on that phrase (to the chagrin of whoever I brought to the game) at minor leaguers who I thought were loafing on defense in some respect. I don't want Buxton to become timid.


But it's called a Warning Track for a reason, and established players may have differing opinions on how one deals with it. The suggestion for Torii to have a conversation with Byron probably is redundant, but is for me on the right (ahem) track.


    • Doctor Wu likes this


Nearly all of Buxton's injuries are trauma.Buxton is a young, healthy man.He will heal and be fine.The injuries to worry about are repetitive motion or stress injuries.Like Miguel Sano's.


See this I don't agree with. "Trauma" injuries are also serious ones: Torn ligaments, Broken Bones, Concussions.


These are injuries that take a player out for extended periods because of one fluke instance. His back injury is trauma. His concussion in the minors was trauma. His broken hand in the minors was trauma. Point here is he has a history of "trauma" injuries because of his play style. It's like he's playing with house money...


Someone else mentioned internal injuries as well, which brought up a (not so) fun fact about my playing career: a "Lacerated Spleen" is an actual injury I have suffered. It was from a collision in shallow RF. :)


    • jimmer likes this
Both are going to be long term injury risks. Sano is just flat out not in shape. If they put him at DH he can hide his obesity and last a long time. I doubt, however, if this is what he wants. Time will tell what he decides for his body. Right now I'm guessing beer, or whatever, wins out.

As to Buxton, his physique is freakish. He has no body fat at all and that means he is lacking a layer of protection. He needs to learn when it is appropriate to risk injury. Crashing into the wall at full speed to save a double or triple in the first inning or when trailing by five runs in the eighth aren't appropriate times to risk being out for two or three weeks. He is our best player right now by a long shot, a run or two is not a good risk v a three week injury.

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