Update: This story is being updated as new announcements are made.
We feel the same way Byron.Buxton has been a linchpin for the Twins defense this year when healthy. Fangraphs.com’ Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR/150) shows him as being about 15 runs better than an average centerfielder over 150 games played. There is also an additional negative cascading affect, as his presence in center allows Max Kepler to play right field, where he is also six runs better in UZR/150 than his most likely replacement, Jake Cave.
Twenty-one runs, at a high level, represents two games over a full season, but the perception of the loss is magnified by the concern about the Twins defense around the diamond. Of the Twins seven infielders and outfielders who have played the most at their positions, only Buxton and Kepler are deemed above average by UZR. Plus, Kepler was also pulled out of Sunday’s game with an injury, although an MRI on Monday for an injured scapula came back negative.
Buxton’s shoulder injury, along with two other injuries, also have short-circuited a breakthrough season for the 25-year-old. He had posted the highest batting average (.262), on-base percentage (.314) and slugging percentage (.513) of his career. He was also showing a better eye at the plate (19 walks versus 68 strikeouts) and of course was a weapon on the base paths with 19 stolen bases.
However, injuries have remained an issue. Last year was torpedoed due to a broken toe suffered from a foul ball in AAA-Rochester. This year he missed 13 games in June with a wrist injury after he was hit by a pitch. He then missed 10 games in July with a concussion after making a diving catch in the outfield. He returned but ran into a wall on August 1st, suffering a left (non-throwing) shoulder subluxation. He has not batted in the majors since.
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