As we wrap our heads around the atrocity that was the final two games of that Twins vs. Guardians series, and the more encouraging series win against Baltimore, we mustn’t forget a very important piece of history during that series. Something many of us have been waiting for, for years. No one more so than the man who did it. Byron Buxton, for the first time in his career, has hit 20 home runs in a season.
You probably have seen the stats rolling around on social media saying Buxton has 52 homers in his last 162 games. He does, and that’s awesome. That only justifies his contract in my opinion. When he signed his 7-year $100 million contract many people were boo-hooing because of his injury prone past — and well, present, but this guy is worth it. When he plays, the Twins are more successful than not.
When he is healthy and playing every day, this guy is arguably the best athlete in the game. But we do have to take a look at where his current knee injury is taking him. he hit his 20th home run of the season in his 57th game. That was the Twins 76th game. So, injuries are still plaguing this MLB star. His batting average has sunk to .230. Rocco Baldelli has made it known he is saving Buxton for only 100 games this season. However, originally he said Buxton would NOT be coming in on his ‘off’ days. That hasn’t totally been the case as of late, which I appreciate.
It’s no secret since early May (while battling a knee injury) he has been slumping. That being said, the other weekend against the Rockies, Buxton went 3-3 with a walk, a home run away from the cycle. He also scored three runs and it was his second triple in two days.
We can only hope things are getting better. Regardless of his injuries and past problems staying healthy, let’s take a look back. I remember in 2012 when the Twins drafted Byron behind Correa (I just love that they are both on the Twins) I was working as a production assistant at a TV station in Fargo, ND. Every day I would sit down with a co-worker, and fellow Twins lover, and we would lay out the roster how we best saw fit. We did the same the following year, I cannot tell you how often we would talk about Buxton and follow his journey in the minor leagues. This man was something else.
When he was finally called up in 2015, he didn’t have immediate success. He came up in June and missed two months with a sprained left thumb. He was batting around .200 and in his first 46 games he struck out 44 times. The next year, not much better. In 92 games he batted .225 with 118 strikeouts and 10 HR. He was batting near the bottom of the lineup, and things just weren’t clicking.
However, let’s fast forward to last year. Before he went out with yet another injury, Byron Buxton was a sight to see. In just 61 games he mustered 19 home runs with a batting average above .300 and an OPS of 1.005 with 32 RBI and 50 runs scored.
As we hope for the best for Buxton this year, let’s take a cringy trip down memory lane and look at his injuries in the past seven seasons in the MLB.
2015: Sprained thumb, played 46 games
2016: Twins were horrible, lost 103 games, Buxton missed games with knee problems and back spasms
2017: Most games he has played in a season at 140 (only season he has reached 100 games) he got some MVP votes, but boy did he strike out a lot, 150 times. He hit 16 homers this year. However, he did miss games for migraines and a groin strain.
2018: Migraines continue, strained wrist and fractured toe keep him to only 28 games. 28 K, no home runs. Batting average around .150.
2019: Concussion symptoms and right wrist injuries benched him early in the season. His season was cut short after a collision with the wall, injuring his shoulder. He played 87 games. The Twins won the division, 101 games and lost to the Yankees in the postseason.
2020: COVID-19 year, Buxton suffered a left foot sprain early, at the end of the season he was hit in the helmet and dealt with concussion-like symptoms. Played 39 of the altered season’s 60 games.
2021: Buxton suffered hamstring issues and hip problems. Three days after he came back, he was hit by a pitch in the hand. It was broken. See above for phenomenal stats in 61 games. Twins were dead last in the Central.
2022: Hip strain, knee injury
I think we are all just waiting on pins and needles for the next Buxton injury, but I hope we end up with sore backsides. Perhaps Rocco’s method will work out for the best. Hopefully, we will see 100 or more games from Buxton this year and continue to see home runs.