Photo: Charlie Riedel-AP

Byron Buxton is Still the Minnesota Twins’ Most Valuable and Irreplaceable Player

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I’m gonna hit you with two facts. The first is the Minnesota Twins have the most potent lineup in baseball. The second is that it’s spearheaded by an irreplaceable 9-hole hitter in Byron Buxton. His talents are amongst the rarest you will find. Google the name and you’ll come across countless acrobatic catches in center. What’s not talked about enough, though, is his direct correlation to the Twins winning games.



HARDEST TO REPLACE

Quite simply, the Twins are as close to elite as it gets with Buxton in the lineup. Take the 2019 season, for example. In 87 games played Minnesota went 62-25 with Buck healthy and in the lineup. Through 162 games, that’s a projected 116 wins. That’s the best team in baseball.

The 2001 Seattle Mariners won 116 games. That still stands today as the most regular season wins in MLB history. With Buxton out, the Twins are merely an above average team at best. This was despite having power hitters and all stars everywhere you look. Max Kepler, Nelson Cruz, Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, and Mitch Garver all had breakout campaigns last year.

I’d still take Byron Buxton as the most irreplaceable piece to this organization. His 87 games last season provided a 3.1 wins above replacement. Hitting 30 doubles in 87 games is a phenomenal pace. That included 4 triples and 10 home runs. Buxton’s power numbers don’t jump out at you, but I would bet he could hit 30+ homers in a season someday. He squares the ball up with the best of them.

GOOD WITH THE GLOVE

I can’t believe I’ve gone on this long without pointing out Buxton’s Gold Glove defense. He changes games in a way an even above average defensive CF never could come close to. However I can’t go on without mentioning his concerning durability issues so far. There have been wrist, ankle, and smashing into the outfield wall issues. It’s frustrating watching a generational talent risk his well-being making a catch in the middle of an intrasquad scrimmage.



I’ve never seen someone give as much effort as Byron has on every play. But I appreciate being able to watch him give his best at all times. His last healthy 2017 season brought in MVP votes on a surging Minnesota Twins team. Whether it was his 3 homers in one game at Toronto or his inside the park home run against Arizona, we have witnessed greatness.



Byron Buxton has been so polarizing over the years. I foolishly proclaimed him a bust years ago, after a nagging injury that seemed to sap him of his potential. This was obviously a regrettable statement from one of his biggest truthers. We all expected so much so soon and felt an avalanche of disappointment the second we saw this turning into a tirefire with Terry Ryan not being able to figure Byron out.

We’ve come to realize there are exceptions for once in a generation talents like Buxton. He’s since figured it out and even if he plays a fraction of available games, you know Byron gives this team its best chance at winning, period.

Dane Mosher | Minnesota Sports Fan