Just a Byron Buxton Slump or Something Worse?

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Byron Buxton single-handedly carried the Minnesota Twins offense for much of the first 20 games of this season. He jumped out to a start so hot that his WAR (Wins Above Replacement) was on pace to destroy the all-time record set by Babe Ruth back in 1923.

But in the last 11 games, Byron Buxton hasn’t just come back to earth? He’s slammed back through the planet’s crust, leaving a crater the size of Lake Superior. The Twins are still winning, in spite of their star’s slump. In fact, Minnesota notched their 6-straight dub tonight, a 2-0 victory over the Tigers, so Buck’s dip in production has gone rather unnoticed. But the numbers are getting too brutal to ignore.

That bad, huh? After an 0-for-4 performance Tuesday night, Buxton is 3-for-40 (.075) in his last 11 games played. His season batting average has dropped to .211 and Byron’s now gone 5 games without a hit (0-for-19).

Slump or Injury?

Every baseball player goes through heat waves and cold streaks throughout the course of a season. Even players of Byron Buxton’s caliber aren’t going to hit the shit out of the ball for 162-straight games.

If that’s the case here for Buck, then there’s nothing to worry about. I’m beyond the point of no return on Byron’s capabilities as a baseball player. Long gone are the days where I worry about a healthy Buxton falling short of expectations. As long as he’s not injured, it’s just a matter of time before he bounces back.

But, are we sure this is just a normal in-season slump. Because, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. For example, we know that Buxton is dealing with knee inflammation and that is why the Twins have been sitting him every third game for the last few weeks. It’s also been reported, much more quietly, that he feels pain in that knee when he swings the bat.

The Twins plan to rest Buxton regularly, in the hope of getting 100 to 110 productive games out of him. He’s playing despite patella tendinitis in his right knee. He has averaged 54 games played over the past four seasons. He requires full days off to undergo therapy and rest. His knee hurts when he swings, which means using him as a DH is not a solution.

Jim Souhan – Star Tribune

Injured List a good idea?

If Byron Buxton is dealing with noticeable pain in his knee when swinging then it’s easy to see how that could affect his ability to hit like the superstar he is. I’m certainly not accusing the Twins of playing Buxton when they shouldn’t be. We all know Rocco would never do that.

But a 10-day IL stint to get Buxton right could make a lot of sense, if that knee is bugging him like reported. Especially given the slump he’s sitting in and the well-documented weak schedule the Minnesota Twins are in the midst of. They still have 10-straight games left to play against the AL Central bottom feeding Tigers and Royals, before they begin a stretch vs the AL East.

Yes, Byron Buxton is important defensively. He made a great catch on Tuesday night. But those extra outs aren’t worth him struggling like this at the plate.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan