Injuries are often unpredictable, and the situation becomes one more of reaction than it does preventability. Recently Lucas Seehafer wrote a wonderful piece outlining Buxton’s maladies and what to make of them. The man is a tireless worker and in exceptional shape. Short of the early career positioning that had him prone to taking down outfield walls, nothing since has been a direct reflection of his own doing.
In 2021 Byron Buxton has played just 26 games thus far. He led the majors in fWAR at the time of his hip injury, and his 2.6 fWAR would be a pace of 16.2 fWAR over the course of 162 games. That would go down as the single greatest season in terms of fWAR throughout Major League Baseball history.
With Buxton it used to be a question if the production at the dish would be there. Since the moment he made his big league debut, he’s been the best defensive outfielder in the league. For the better part of the past three years now, we’ve seen that the bat has caught up to expectations as well. He’s got a .903 OPS and 139 OPS+ dating back to 2019. I’ve never been especially high on utilizing his speed for stealing bases because my assumption was always that the power would play. He’s hit 33 homers in his last 153 games, and the 44 doubles make it unnecessary for him to steal third base.
I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone willing to argue against Buxton’s talent on the field. There are so few players that can do what he does, and at the level in which he contributes. It’s understandable to suggest that being without him while injured hurts the team, but even more damning would be to see him showcasing his abilities for someone else.
Every single organization in baseball knows what Buxton’s injury history is. That means he’s going to face the same payday challenges no matter where he goes when the questions of availability are brough up. All it takes is for one team to pay him a value that coincides with the missed time, and Minnesota handing out a $100 million deal doesn’t preclude them from making other complimentary decisions.
The reality is that the Minnesota Twins need Byron Buxton, probably more than he needs them, and despite a few missteps towards him along the way it’s time for the front office to match the number that gets something done.
Byron Buxton is a generational talent type of player and trying to replace that type of production is much harder than finding money to make the other pieces fit.
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