Minnesota Twins 2022 Preview: Can Byron Buxton be an MVP candidate?
By Otto Johnson
With the lockout dragging on, the Minnesota Twins season seems further away then it should feel in late February. Despite this, we’re still going to believe that regular season baseball will arrive as close to the original Opening Day as possible.
With that belief, we look ahead to a Minnesota Twins season that is just one big question mark that the lockout has prevented the front office from answering. While the team has several pieces in place, there’s a variety of players who enter 2022 with a lot to prove if they want to be a big piece of the team going forward.
We’ve talked about Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, and Taylor Rogers so far, and today we’re going to jump into a season preview for the Twins’ top player and the only member of the organization that is set to be under contract through 2028: Byron Buxton.
Now Buck has already proven himself to the Twins, something that’s evidenced by the fact that they felt comfortable enough to give him a seven year, $100 million extension. He’s going to be here for a long time, and the team, fans, and player are all thrilled about it.
The big issue now becomes how will Buxton respond to this new deal? Injuries and inconsistent performance were big questions for him up until 2019 when he broke out as an offensive star to compliment his legendary defense. Now it’s just injuries.
Buxton has not played more than 87 games in a season since 2017, and despite the fact that he played 65% of the team’s game in the shortened 2020 season, there are still numerous injury concerns for the outfielder. For this year though, we’re going to choose to once again be overly optimistic.
Prior to getting injured last year, Byron Buxton was the clear Minnesota Twins MVP and had a pretty solid MVP case for the first month of the season. While his injuries once again derailed his overall numbers, he still put together an incredible .306/.358/.647 slashline and 19(!!!) homers in just 61 games.
That’s a wildly impressive stretch, and if he could keep that up while playing his defense, he’s a guaranteed All-Star and is a Top 3 MVP finisher. Even if he he regresses closer to his 2019 or 2020 levels, the Twins still have a stud outfielder that’s well worth triple the money he’s making.
If Byron Buxton plays at the same level he did last year and only plays 85 games, the Twins have an extremely productive center fielder that was worth the extension. But if Buck can stay healthy this year and prove some doubters wrong, he’s right in the thick of the MVP debate.