In a 1959 episode of The Twilight Zone entitled “What You Need”, a street peddler is bestowed the special ability to give passersby exactly what they are in need of. It may be a curious object, like a pair of scissors or a bus ticket, but it comes in handy at the exact right moment.
When TJ posed the question of what the Twins’ biggest need might be (outside of top-tier pitching, which doesn’t seem to be headed this way), my mind went immediately to the health of Byron Buxton. This is especially true with the recent signing of Josh Donaldson, as no more offensive outside-the-organization moves seem needed.
Thus far, Buck has not eclipsed 500 at-bats per season in a Twins uniform. He topped out at 462 ABs in 2017, the year he won a Gold Glove award and garnered some MVP votes. Unfortunately, injuries kept him around 300 ABs in ’16 & ’19, and just a paltry 90 ABs in a nightmare 2018.
The Twins have proven they can be a solid ballclub and win without Buck on the field. But to take that “next step” and be a truly feared AL competitor, they need his speed on the basepaths, his gap power, and his general enthusiasm that seems to provide a spark for the entire ballclub. To twist the words of famed Soviet boxer Ivan Drago’s handler: “It makes a man [club]…a better man [club]”.
I’ve also said it once already, but I continue to believe that a Rosario-Buxton-Kepler outfield together over the course of an entire season might still be the golden ticket for playoff success.
So, with the Bringer of Rain presumably securing Twin Cities-area housing and the starting staff not likely to add a splashy hurler, keeping Buck healthy would be the next-biggest boon for the Minnesota Twins. I’m not sure if this means catching a streak of good luck or telling him to back off on the wall-crashing routine, but I really want to see what he—and this entire team, by extension—can do with a full season of him jogging out to the middle of the diamond every day.