Buxton was injured. He has never been sick throughout his career. He boasted some of the most spectacular injuries in the major leagues, including shoulder, knee, wrist, hamstring and hip. He had peak athletic ability, but he didn’t have the endurance to show off that athletic ability to his heart’s content. He was also embarrassing for Minnesota.
In 2021, Buxton got off to his best start, posting a .370 batting average with 9 homers and 17 RBIs in his first 24 games. He also had an adjusted scoring production rate (wRC+) of 218 (mike trout 221), a measure of how good his offense is compared to the league average (100). It seemed that the true value of healthy Buxton was finally coming out.
But Buxton was spring. It was nice, but it passed by briefly. Buxton suffered ligament damage in his right hip in early May and was sidelined for over a month. And three games after his return, he fractured his left hand on a pitch thrown by a pitcher (the pitcher who hit Buxton was now teammate Tyler Marley). Coupled with an unfortunate set of injuries, Buxton didn’t return until late August. In his last 26 games, he exploded again with a .314 batting average of 9 homers and 13 RBIs. However, because it was a season in which Minnesota fell to the bottom of the planet, Buxton in the fall could not be seen.
Buxton digested only 37.7% of the entire schedule that year. Nonetheless, it produced a 4.6 in Baseball Reference win contribution. In 2021, Buxton was the only player to have played only 61 games in the major leagues since 1900 and reach a win contribution rate of 4.6 (3.6 in 55 games for Mookie Betts in 2020). The healthy Buxton full-time season made me more curious.
As such, Buxton was both dangerous and lethal. Minnesota could not ignore the charm of Buxton. In November 2021, he signed a 7-year, $100 million extension with Buxton. It was the team’s second-largest ever, behind Joe Mauer’s 8-year, $184 million contract in 2010. There were bonuses based on the number of at-bats and MVP rankings, and the right to refuse trades with former clubs was guaranteed until 2026 (5 teams designated as non-tradeable for 2027-28).
The reaction was divided into poles and poles. It was argued that $100 million was too much money for an injured player. If 2028, the final year of his contract, Buxton is a 34-year-old season. It was unreasonable to expect a player who was not healthy in his 20s to be healthy in his 30s. Some criticized him for paying the hospital bills. On the other hand, there was also a counterargument that he was caught for $ 100 million because he had not been healthy so far. Indeed, had Buxton been healthy, negotiations would have started at at least $300 million. Also, Minnesota’s average of $15 million per year was not an exorbitant amount given current market prices.
In 2022, Buxton won with power instead of accuracy. In the first half, he finished fifth in the league with 23 homers in 73 games. Thanks to that, Mike Trout was able to participate in the All-Star Game, which he missed through injury. It was Buxton’s first All-Star Game. In the All-Star Game, Buxton was responsible for the final score of the game by hitting a back-to-back home run immediately after Giancarlo Stanton’s two-run four. It was a home run that came after eight years of waiting.
Of course, Buxton wasn’t healthy last season either. He disappeared from the end of August and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in September. Buxton revealed that he knew from 5 months ago that he would have to have surgery. He played through the pain, but didn’t overdo it when the team raised the white flag.
Buxton had another half-season. Even after hitting his personal record of 28 home runs in one season, the aftertaste was not refreshing. Minnesota felt the same way.
The two sides decided to focus on their unconditional business trips this year. So the solution that came out was Buxton’s designated hitter business trip. Manager Rocco Boldelli said, “The cold weather in April is not helping Buxton, who has undergone knee surgery,” and said, “Buxton will be sent as a designated hitter for the time being.”
Buxton is the best center fielder. Since 2017, he has ranked high in both defense save (DRS) and outcount handling (OAA) for center fielders. He was a player who taught the importance of defending the center line, and he delighted the eyes with his tremendous defense.
2017-22 Center Field DRS Ranking
70 – Kevin Kiermeier
63 – Michael A Taylor
61 – Byron Buxton
Center Field OAA Ranking 2017-22
61 – Lorenzo Cain
59 – Byron Buxton
55 – Kevin Kiermeyer
The problem was injuries. I didn’t spare my body so much, so there were too many injuries during defense. The defense was eating away at the player’s life. Even when he tried to restrain himself, his body reacted instinctively. As a result, defense was a double-edged sword. Buxton was proud of his defense, but he was always worried about losing time due to a defensive injury.스포츠토토
Minnesota decided to eliminate this concern. I went into management which eased the burden on Buxton. President Derek Palvey explained, “It’s a concept similar to NBA Load Management.” It was a natural decision given Minnesota’s performance change. Since 2017, Minnesota has had a .569 winning percentage in games with Buxton as the starter and a .473 winning percentage in games without it. Even if he gave up on defense, he couldn’t give up on Buxton. In response, Minnesota brought Michael A. Taylor, who could see center fielder, early on.
Buxton is also following the team decision. It’s awkward not to play defense, but Buxton’s first priority was to erase the question mark related to health. Excluded from the defense, Buxton is participating in 39 of the team’s 43 games this year (batting average of .234 with eight home runs). He is aiming for 100 appearances in his second season following 2017.
A healthy Buxton was an existence that could not be seen even if one wanted to see it. And it was also an existence that had to be shown before it was too late. Currently, Minnesota is in first place in the American League Central Division, and Buxton also set a goal of “winning” this year. This is why we need a healthier Buxton than any other Buxton.