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  • What Might Buxton's Future Production Look Like?


    Ted Schwerzler

    The Minnesota Twins signed Byron Buxton to a seven-year contract extension worth $100 million earlier this week. I wanted to know what his production might look like, so obviously, I consulted the best source... MLB The Show.

    Image courtesy of Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

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    I simulated the 2021 season (in which the Twins wound up winning the World Series, crazy) and then signed Buxton to his lucrative extension. With him in tow for the better part of the next decade, I then simulated every season and offseason through 2028 while allowing the computer to do its thing. This might not be surprising, but the man is pretty good.
     
    Before we dive into what took place, let’s catch you up to where we are now. Following the 2028 season, Buxton is 34 years old and an 86 overall player in the game. He began this process as a 90 overall player at age 28 and has only started to see a slight decline. In terms of relatable advanced analytics, MLB The Show uses its own calculation for WAR. In 2019, when Buxton posted an .827 OPS and 2.7 fWAR, The Show valued him at 2.9 WAR. That gives us a pretty even comparison.
     
    Now, let’s dive in.
     
    Even in real life, Buxton should never be expected to hit for a real high average (though he did over 61 games in 2021). That was true in The Show during the first year of his contract. Despite being worth 3.8 WAR, he posted just a .225 average. It translated to a .700 OPS with 17 dingers and seven triples. That’s where things took off.
     
    In each of the following three seasons, Buxton posted increasing WAR marks. Starting with a 4.6 effort in 2023, going to 4.7 in 2024, and topping out at 4.9 in 2025. He led the league with 19 outfield assists in 2023 and stole 24 bases. His 26 long balls were a new career-high, and he tallied eight triples. It was that 2025 season where the magic happened. Rewarded for his career year, the .261 average and .779 OPS were enough to earn him American League MVP honors. His 12 triples were a career-high, and the 17 homers added some nice thump to a decent Minnesota lineup.
     
    From 2022 through 2026, Buxton averaged 148 games per year, playing in all but three during the 2026 season. Injuries got him a bit the last two seasons of his deal, in which he played just 124 games in 2027 and 79 in 2028. Throughout the extension, Buxton compiled 24.2 WAR which Fangraphs valued as worth roughly $191.9 million, or just shy of double his contract.
     
    Accolades were often tallied for the Twins centerfielder. He racked up five straight Gold Gloves from 2022-26 and was named to three All-Star teams. The roster was largely turned over, with names such as Logan Webb, Abraham Toro, and Carlos Correa welcomed. Still, Buxton remained the organization’s best player for the vast majority of his time. He didn’t get to play with a couple of top Twins prospects as Royce Lewis was shipped to the Cubs after the 2023 season, and Jordan Balazovic went to the Yankees in 2025.
     
    I found myself interested in how Buxton’s final years would go, so there was a need to play out the string of his career. When reaching free agency for the first time, Buxton was handed a qualifying offer from the Twins. He hit the market as the best available centerfielder. Buxton opted to remain with Minnesota on a one-year deal worth $9.5 million when the dust settled.

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    Another year of regression for Buxton at age-35 had him playing in just 71 games and bottoming out to the tune of a .391 OPS. He now has dropped to an 81 overall talent and enters the free agency market with significantly depressed value. He’s competing for a payday against top players such as Gabriel Maciel, the Twins prospect who was traded to Kansas City in 2022 and put up a 4.6 WAR season in 2028. Maciel wound up signing a six-year $116.4 million deal with the Diamondbacks. Royce Lewis also hit free agency for the first time this season, and San Diego inked the 88 overall 29-year-old to a four-year deal worth $56 million.
     
    Despite having 26 and 33-year-old centerfielders who are better, the Los Angeles Angels gave Buxton a one-year deal worth $4.2 million for his age-36 season. Byron played just 25 games for the Angels before his release. He bounced back from the disastrous end in Minnesota and posted a .796 OPS, but the opportunities weren’t there. Now looking at free agency as a 37-year-old, Buxton had to convince a team he still had something in the tank with his overall dropping to 76. Unsigned heading into Opening Day, this looked like it could be the end of the road. Ultimately no suitor presented themselves, and after sitting out the 2031 calendar season, that’s where Minnesota’s mega-star would call it quits. Buxton retired following the conclusion of the World Series.

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    For his career, Buxton compiled 14.160 years of service time and had a slash line of .232/.295/.422. He ripped 204 homers and stole exactly 200 bases while recording 62 triples. His 37.3 WAR would be good enough for 66th best among centerfielders all-time per Fangraphs. While not having a Hall of Fame-caliber resume, it’s certainly fair to deduce that MLB The Show sees Byron Buxton contributing as a star for many more years.
     
    Coincidentally, there was another superstar outfielder that retired in 2031 as well. He was an immediate induction into the Hall of Fame with 601 career homers. Congrats Mr. Trout.

    FFer-IhWQAQJD-i.jpeg.a357aeb87fac6ed921e4c76f8c3f5e28.jpeg
     
    What do you think? Would you sign up for this type of trajectory Twins fans?

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    Buxton's future performance should be expected to be similar to his past performance, which has been highly affected by injuries. There's no reason to expect him to remain less injury-prone.

    He's 27 now - pretty much in the peak performance period for most MLB hitters. Of course, there are exceptions - but as hitters near and age past 30, we typically see slight annual declines. Buxton's injury-tendancy might accelerate his decline.

    IF he stays healthy and plays 80-90% of the time, he could be an significant impact player/All Star. And he will definitely make the Twins a better team if he plays that much.

    Buxton is an exciting player and, if he's playing regularly, will be a draw for fans. Even if the Twins are mediocre, he will be fun to watch - if he's on the field and in the batter's box.

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    2 hours ago, terrydactyls said:

    I think you are underselling his HRs and average.  I'll bet he hits closer to .280 and averages 25-30 HRs.

    I mean, I'm not actually underselling anything. I simply wrote what the game did. I have always felt Buxton's offensive ability comes more from power production than it does average though. Think he's more a .260-.270 hitter with 25 homers.

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    1 hour ago, GopherJeff said:

    Buxton's future performance should be expected to be similar to his past performance, which has been highly affected by injuries. There's no reason to expect him to remain less injury-prone.

    I struggle with this being so widely accepted. I think his earlier injuries while running into walls was pretty fair to suggest as being self inflicted. Are we really suggesting that future injury is likely because he broke his hand on a HBP, or that he'll have hip issues because he returns too soon, or that concussions are likely because he hit his face on the ground?

    None of those things have been great to see play out, but it's also a pretty big leap to suggest they're more indication of future struggles.

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    25 minutes ago, Ted Schwerzler said:

    I mean, I'm not actually underselling anything. I simply wrote what the game did. I have always felt Buxton's offensive ability comes more from power production than it does average though. Think he's more a .260-.270 hitter with 25 homers.

    He should be a .315 (or better?) hitter based on his speed alone.  If he would be willing to bunt once in a while instead of always going for the power numbers, he would be a force on both ends of the stats.  But he is not willing, so I guess you pegged his future production pretty well.  Or maybe I am blaming the wrong party; no one on this team will bunt, even to beat a shift, so maybe it is a directive and not a choice.  Either way, it is taking one of his best weapons away.  

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    28 minutes ago, Ted Schwerzler said:

    I struggle with this being so widely accepted. I think his earlier injuries while running into walls was pretty fair to suggest as being self inflicted. Are we really suggesting that future injury is likely because he broke his hand on a HBP, or that he'll have hip issues because he returns too soon, or that concussions are likely because he hit his face on the ground?

    None of those things have been great to see play out, but it's also a pretty big leap to suggest they're more indication of future struggles.

    I am reading running into walls, diving for balls, injuries from running the bases (his hip injury), broken bones from hit by pitches, and on and on over 7 seasons.  That is a pattern that we are hoping (dare I say expecting?) to just end, and he will play 140 or so games a year from now on.  We all hope so, but is it realistic based on his history?  

    All I am saying, as I have said before, is it would only be logical to worry about the pattern, both injury wise and production wise, which may very well be affected by his constant injuries.  Did the computer take all of this into account?  And, if so, what was the formula?  

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    45 minutes ago, Ted Schwerzler said:

    I struggle with this being so widely accepted. I think his earlier injuries while running into walls was pretty fair to suggest as being self inflicted. Are we really suggesting that future injury is likely because he broke his hand on a HBP, or that he'll have hip issues because he returns too soon, or that concussions are likely because he hit his face on the ground?

    I agree. Those injuries were likely not predictive. But I do have a strange superstitious side, and I would LOVE to see the Twins overhaul their logo and jersey this year. Give Buxton a fresh start. Immediately put away the old associations of his many injuries as a Twin. 

    I know, it's dumb. And yet, the human mind is a goofy thing.

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    30 minutes ago, Mark G said:

    I am reading running into walls, diving for balls, injuries from running the bases (his hip injury), broken bones from hit by pitches, and on and on over 7 seasons.  That is a pattern that we are hoping (dare I say expecting?) to just end, and he will play 140 or so games a year from now on.  We all hope so, but is it realistic based on his history?  

    All I am saying, as I have said before, is it would only be logical to worry about the pattern, both injury wise and production wise, which may very well be affected by his constant injuries.  Did the computer take all of this into account?  And, if so, what was the formula?  

    There have been a few other great players that were injury "prone" early in their careers that at some point it changed around for them. Moliter comes to mind right off.

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    A fun exercise. I'm not sure how accurate it is and I struggle to believe a .779 OPS would get anybody an MVP award in reality.

    Also, while you say $191.9MM is close to double Buxton's contract, that's not true. If Buxton wins an MVP with 574+ plate appearances, he'd have made $15 + $8 + $1.5 = $24.5MM. Since I'm not sure if he was garnering MVP votes in 2022-2024 or how many plate appearances he was having, it could make a big difference on his contract's value. Assuming the same number of plate appearances as 2025, and assuming his similar WAR resulted in say, #5 in MVP voting in those years, his contract would have been.

    • 2022 - $15.5MM ($9 + $1 + $4 + $1.5)
    • 2023 - $21.5MM ($15MM + 5MM + $1.5MM)
    • 2024 - $21.5MM ($15MM + 5MM + $1.5MM)
    • 2025 - $24.5MM ($15MM + 8MM + $1.5MM)
    • 2026 - $15.0MM
    • 2027 - $15.0MM
    • 2028 - $15.0MM
    • Total = $143MM vs. value = $191.9MM

    I think most people, including myself, would be happy with Buxton performing at the level shown in the video game.

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    1 hour ago, Mark G said:

    He should be a .315 (or better?) hitter based on his speed alone.  If he would be willing to bunt once in a while instead of always going for the power numbers, he would be a force on both ends of the stats.  But he is not willing, so I guess you pegged his future production pretty well.  Or maybe I am blaming the wrong party; no one on this team will bunt, even to beat a shift, so maybe it is a directive and not a choice.  Either way, it is taking one of his best weapons away.  

    Conversely, you're suggesting to take away his production potential by asking him to take one base at a time. Buxton turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples will be a thing forever.  He's equally able to beat out infield base hits without sacrificing the opportunity to hit the ball over the fence. There's a reason bunting isn't seen as a viable strategy for consistent run production anymore.

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    16 minutes ago, bean5302 said:

    A fun exercise. I'm not sure how accurate it is and I struggle to believe a .779 OPS would get anybody an MVP award in reality.

    Also, while you say $191.9MM is close to double Buxton's contract, that's not true. If Buxton wins an MVP with 574+ plate appearances, he'd have made $15 + $8 + $1.5 = $24.5MM. Since I'm not sure if he was garnering MVP votes in 2022-2024 or how many plate appearances he was having, it could make a big difference on his contract's value. Assuming the same number of plate appearances as 2025, and assuming his similar WAR resulted in say, #5 in MVP voting in those years, his contract would have been.

    • 2022 - $15.5MM ($9 + $1 + $4 + $1.5)
    • 2023 - $21.5MM ($15MM + 5MM + $1.5MM)
    • 2024 - $21.5MM ($15MM + 5MM + $1.5MM)
    • 2025 - $24.5MM ($15MM + 8MM + $1.5MM)
    • 2026 - $15.0MM
    • 2027 - $15.0MM
    • 2028 - $15.0MM
    • Total = $143MM vs. value = $191.9MM

    I think most people, including myself, would be happy with Buxton performing at the level shown in the video game.

    Yeah, I didn't account for the incentives which is absolutely a fair point. Those are essentially a loan Minnesota is happily willing to trade for production. I have no idea how a sub .800 OPS won an MVP, but the combination of defensive accolades probably did wonders. In reality, he'll finish top 10 in MVP voting any time he's got north of an .800 OPS in real life because of the defensive prowess too.

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    15 minutes ago, Ted Schwerzler said:

    Conversely, you're suggesting to take away his production potential by asking him to take one base at a time. Buxton turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples will be a thing forever.  He's equally able to beat out infield base hits without sacrificing the opportunity to hit the ball over the fence. There's a reason bunting isn't seen as a viable strategy for consistent run production anymore.

    I am not following, I guess.  If he can beat out an infield hit while swinging away, he should always swing away?  On the chance he might get a power hit instead of getting on base more often by using all of his tools?  What is the thinking?  That a better average and on base percentage is not as good as slugging percentages?  

    And the reverse is that shifts and pitch selections/locations are able to succeed the way they do due to the fact hitters go for power numbers above all else.  Using all the tools a guy like Buck has opens a lot more of the field and makes the pitcher and the defense work harder.  There is a lot more to hitting than power and launch angle.  Buck could do it all if someone would either allow him to, or light a fire under his rear, whichever the case may be.  How many Hall of Famers do we think would tell us what the bunt can do for a hitter?  

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    1 hour ago, Ted Schwerzler said:

    I struggle with this being so widely accepted. I think his earlier injuries while running into walls was pretty fair to suggest as being self inflicted. Are we really suggesting that future injury is likely because he broke his hand on a HBP, or that he'll have hip issues because he returns too soon, or that concussions are likely because he hit his face on the ground?

    None of those things have been great to see play out, but it's also a pretty big leap to suggest they're more indication of future struggles.

    Unlucky or "brittle"?

    I'd love to hear from one of our medical experts (Lucas? Heezy?) on the question of whether some people are actually more brittle or injury-prone than others. In my family, my wife has had many more broken bones and muscle strains than I have, and I doubt that she has had more falls and similar events. (Her favorite line is "Most people go to the gym to get strong; I go to the gym to get hurt!")

    It certainly seems like every time Buxton has any kind of potential injury event he is out for months, whereas for some other players it is a minor knock and they can stay in the lineup or be "day to day."

    Professional advice would be appreciated!

     

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    5 hours ago, Karbo said:

    There have been a few other great players that were injury "prone" early in their careers that at some point it changed around for them. Moliter comes to mind right off.

    The other side of that coin would be Eric Davis. Healthy and productive earlier in his career, and then somewhat derailed in the second half, a la Buxton

    I think it is , to some extent, random.

    There's really only one way to go on the injury front with Buxton, and that's up.

    His migraines are one thing I'd be concerned about.

    That said, I'm betting on his cashing in on some of those incentives.

    Only time will tell.

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    on paper nice exercise, but in real time action Buxton has to appear in 100 games a year at a minimum during his contract. To be the guy, day in day out, number should really be 130 games a yea.  Biggest problem I see for him to be elite and a true difference maker can't be 1/2 the season year over year.  Let's hope the injury bug goes on hiatus for him

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