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2020 MLB (non-Twins) Postseason Discussion Thread

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More Concerning Injury History: Byron Buxton or Josh Donaldson?

Injuries are part of professional sports and one key injury can significantly alter the course of a franchise. This season in Minnesota’s most important game neither Josh Donaldson or Byron Buxton were on the field and both players have a lengthy injury history. Donaldson and Buxton can impact multiple facets of the game, so who’s injury history is more concerning?
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Josh Donaldson’s Recent Injury History
2017: Right-calf strain (38 games missed)
2018: Right shoulder inflammation, left-calf strain (110 games missed)
2020: Right-calf strain (32 games missed)

Minnesota was well aware of Josh Donald’s calf issues when they signed him this off-season. He was coming off a healthy season in Atlanta and the Twins felt their training staff could continue to keep him healthy in the years ahead. That didn’t happen as he missed over half of the regular season and he was forced to sit out both the team’s playoff games.

Now the Twins have three more guaranteed years left with Donaldson and a team option for a fourth year, which includes a large $8 million buyout. This year was certainly strange with players not being able to go through their normal ramp-up to a season with a shortened Summer Camp leading into the year. Would Donaldson have fared better if the season had been longer and the Twins medical staff could work with him on a more regular basis?

Donaldson will turn 35 before the start of next season and age is always a question when it comes to recovering from injuries. Big expectations surrounded the team’s signing of Donaldson and there are plenty of question marks at the end of his first year.

Byron Buxton’s Recent Injury History
2017: Groin strain, migraines (22 games missed)
2018: Migraines, fractures toe, strained wrist (134 games missed)
2019: Wrist contusion, concussion, left shoulder dislocation, labrum surgery (75 games missed)
2020: Concussion symptoms, left shoulder injury, sprained left-foot (21 games missed)

There’s no question Byron Buxton can be one of the most exciting players in baseball when he is healthy and on the field. Unfortunately, Twins fans have only seen Buxton play over 95 games once in his big-league career. Minnesota took a proactive approach with Buxton this year by trying to alter some of his in-game behavior, but a high and tight fastball resulted in a head contusion and concussion symptoms.

One way the Twins tried to alter Buxton’s behavior this year was to have him play deeper in centerfield. This allows him to start closer to the wall so he can minimize the risks involved with colliding with the wall. Another change has been the coaching staff working with him to try and jump off two feet instead of one foot. This was supposed to give him more control of his body in the air, but there were times this season where Buxton struggled to do this in the heat of the moment.

Even with his injury history, Buxton is one of the most valuable Twins as evident by him ending 2020 with the team’s highest WAR total according to Baseball Reference. There were multiple defensive plays this season where Buxton made a concerted effort to avoid crashing into the wall or diving for the ball. One pitch altered the end of his season, but Twins fans have seen that with another centerfielder in team history.

Donaldson and Buxton now have a full off-season to get ready for what will hopefully be a more regular 2021 campaign. Moving forward, fans are going to continue to have questions every time either one of these players is out of the line-up. If the current Twins core wants to find postseason success, Donaldson and Buxton need to be on the field and playing at something close to peak performance.

Whose injury history are you more worried about? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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15 Comments

I think Buxton's injury history is more concerning because the Twins are still counting on major upside from him. He's still not locked into a long term contract and I don't know how they even begin those discussions when he is injured every single season. 

Donaldson is on the downswing of his career and my assumption is he has maybe 1 year left at 3B before transitioning to DH full time. 

    • denarded, TheLeviathan, mikelink45 and 1 other like this

 

I think Buxton's injury history is more concerning because the Twins are still counting on major upside from him. He's still not locked into a long term contract and I don't know how they even begin those discussions when he is injured every single season. 

 

Seems like an ideal candidate for a contract with performance clauses. Half guaranteed and the rest kicking in at 80 games and 120 games played.

    • mikelink45 likes this
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Taildragger8791
Oct 05 2020 08:45 AM

 

I think Buxton's injury history is more concerning because the Twins are still counting on major upside from him. He's still not locked into a long term contract and I don't know how they even begin those discussions when he is injured every single season. 

Donaldson is on the downswing of his career and my assumption is he has maybe 1 year left at 3B before transitioning to DH full time. 

 

I hope Donaldson has a little more time in the field than that, otherwise we're going to have a logjam between him, Sano, and Rooker. And maybe add Kirilloff to that mix depending on how his outfield defense looks in the big leagues. I assume they've had him cross-training at 1B for a reason...

    • SQUIRREL and mikelink45 like this

 

Donaldson is on the downswing of his career and my assumption is he has maybe 1 year left at 3B before transitioning to DH full time. 

 

Hm, he's still an above-average 3B by a wide margin right now. It'll be more than one year until he's a liability there.

    • wabene likes this

Whose injury history are you more worried about?

Yes. :)

 

Both have chronic conditions that flare up without warning - migraines (over-simplifying a bit) and calf tightness.

 

I suppose the guaranteed contract for Donaldson is the deciding factor. But both players are concerning in roughly similar ways.
 

    • SQUIRREL, USAFChief, flpmagikat and 2 others like this

Both are a concern.The history of nagging injuries has made it so that we should assume that each will be out for extended periods during the season.At some point you need to look at alternatives... my concern is that we end up with another David Ortiz situation.

Donaldson is more concerning for me because it is the same injury over and over.With buck, other than concussion thing which is yet to be seen if that will linger, he has had so many different types.Yes, they have been high in number, but with the different types there is no reason to say he will not recover from them.Just wondering when he will get a new one.  

 

With Donaldson the question is when it will act up again, and seems to act up anytime and cannot do much to prevent it other than maybe rest.That type of injury concerns me more. 

    • wabene and cooldude like this

Part of what was concerning about Buxton's injury history previously was it was also coupled with real struggles at the plate for long stretches and you wondered whether he'd stay healthy long enough to get into a groove. I think Buxton will be fine, but should probably be looked at as being a 125-140 game player at most in a normal season (at least until he proves he can do it). And with everything he adds to the game, I can live with that. I don't believe that because a player has some injuries that they can't necessarily stay on the field in the future, though, and he's in his physical prime right now.

 

Donaldson is a bit more concerning; you do have to worry that the calf issue may be a chronic thing for him since it's been recurring and he's an older guy. That said, the pandemic compressed season definitely hurt him and a return to a more normal schedule (whether fans are in the stands or not) will help him I think. It'll be easier to get him regular rest and there will be programmed days off in the calendar. There will be less pressure to push through something.

 

Both players have a concern, but honestly? Neither are a code red, get rid of this, he'll never play enough to be worth it situation, IMHO. If you set the over/under on games for them for next year (assuming a normal schedule) at 220 between the two...I'd bet the over and feel fairly confident about it.

    • wabene likes this

The other IF might have chronic injuries as well. Polanco may need surgery on his ankle for the second year in a row. Arraez has tendinitis in a surgically repaired knee. 

 

All four could have issues next season. The problem is they have very few IF/CF prospects near MLB ready - Blankenhorn, Lewis and Celestino. The Twins FO doesn't seem to notice. Their minor league system is chock-full of corner OF/1B/DH power hitters... and they keep drafting them!

    • Doctor Gast likes this

Absolutely zero evidence to suggest...as the author seems to be trying hard to do...that Buxton's post season performance (or lack thereof) was impacted by the late-season HBP. Zero. 

 

To me, both Buxton/Donaldson injuries are equally concerning in terms of 2021 as there doesn't seem to be a legitimate alternative in either case.

Too frustrating.Easy as a fan to be over it, and say move on.Trade and get some value.For a front office full of analytics enthusiasts?Not a chance.Both are way to valuable to just part ways with.

I'd welcome a change from Buxton.Though our defensive outfield depth isn't plentiful, our offensive outfield depth is VERY plentiful.Speed on bases?Buxton does give teams fits, but he could've embraced a well placed bunt once every 10 at bats and welcomed or pushed for stealing more bases.I LOVE watching Buck, but I'm ready to see a change.As for not wanting to see him become a David Ortiz, I don't think we'll have to worry about that.David Ortiz had chronic knee pain from playing on the terrible Metrodome turf.He even said, when he "...went to Boston, it was gone."

 

What scares me is Arraez and tendonitis in that knee.Don't want him to become the Brandon Roy of the MLB.

 

    • mikelink45 likes this

Can Buxton learn to play first base? All chronically injured players are of concern. I guess I am more concerned over Donaldson because of his age and contract. Have we wasted precious money? Most of Buxton's injuries have come from his tremendous hustle and athleticism. Maybe moving him to first could help him stay on the field more. Or just let him DH (especially if we lose Cruz). Arraez could become an elite hitter if he is healthy. If Polanco needs surgery, get it to him now rather than wait. 

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Battle ur tail off
Oct 06 2020 02:51 PM

Buxton for sure. 

 

Anything and everything injures him. 

 

He basically gives us 3-4 weeks of good play a year, then the rest is on the injured list or stuck in a large slump and hitting about .150. 

 

I love him when he's healthy and producing. But the problem is, that is a very small part of his season each year. 

Photo
TheLeviathan
Oct 07 2020 01:54 PM

For 2021?A tie, both.

 

However, Buxton is seen as a player the Twins could/would have for quite some time.His inability to stay available to the team is a far bigger concern.

 

Can Buxton learn to play first base? All chronically injured players are of concern. I guess I am more concerned over Donaldson because of his age and contract. Have we wasted precious money? Most of Buxton's injuries have come from his tremendous hustle and athleticism. Maybe moving him to first could help him stay on the field more. Or just let him DH (especially if we lose Cruz). Arraez could become an elite hitter if he is healthy. If Polanco needs surgery, get it to him now rather than wait. 

 

No no no! Buxton adds huge value defensively in the OF. Even he was very good immediately at 1B (a stretch since he's never played there...ever), he's going to add next to nothing. The risk in him getting injured is the price you have to pay for that elite defense. He's showing skills at the plate, but his plate discipline was awful this year and I just don't know that he can slug like he's Nelson Cruz over a full season, and he's need that level of production to be a plus performer at 1B.

 

He's a CF. If he gets hurt, he gets hurt. But he's a CF.


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