While the Minnesota Twins have had production throughout their lineup this season, there is little doubt that one of the biggest additions has come from within. That’s because Byron Buxton has taken a huge leap forward at the plate this season to help his offense try to get on par with his Gold Glove defense in center field.
Even though Buxton is enjoying a breakout season, that narrative almost hit a snag on Friday night. In the Twins’ 2-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals, Buxton took a pitch off the wrist from Royals starter Brad Keller and temporarily stayed in the game before being pinch hit for by Marwin Gonzalez late in the game.
The scene was concerning, but it appears Buxton has avoided anything major. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s La Velle E. Neal, Buxton is simply dealing with a wrist contusion and that point was confirmed during manager Rocco Baldelli’s press conference.
"“Byron’s doing fine,” Baldelli told reporters. “[He has a] wrist contusion.”"
Baldelli would later add that the news was “pretty positive,” which could mean we could see Buxton back in the lineup sooner rather than later.
Buxton’s 2019 season has by far been his best in a career that has been riddled with injuries and ineffectiveness. After being limited to just 28 games last year due to a broken toe and a .156 batting average, Buxton has been more like the player Twins fans expected hitting .266 with 9 HR and 38 RBI entering Saturday’s game with Kansas City.
Part of the reason for Buxton’s success could be the pressure has been taken off of him by the rest of the lineup. Once leaned on as a focal point, his every move was being monitored by the general public. Now with Nelson Cruz, C.J. Cron, Jorge Polanco and others helping lead the highest scoring lineup (5.97 runs per game) in Major League Baseball, Buxton has been able to drop down to the ninth in the order and use his speed to get on base late in games to help the Twins rally.
With Buxton leading the American League in doubles with 21, it would be a blow to the offense for him to miss some time. With the Twins’ depth, however, he may take a game or two off before returning to the lineup and continuing his career year.