Pretty much everything about the Minnesota Twins postseason run was magical, even though it ended far too early. As much fun as it was to watch two of the biggest streaks hanging over the team's head end, there was a missing piece that was hard to not notice.
Byron Buxton was left off both the AL Wild Card and ALDS roster, and when he stepped to the plate for a pinch hit in Game 4 on Wednesday it marked the first time in over two months he had taken an at-bat.
All season long an injury cloud hung over Buxton, as he hit the IL a few different times and never seemed to get healthy enough to make the sort of impact he otherwise could have. Minnesota traded for Michael A. Taylor in the offseason to potentially take some of the load off Buxton, but he ended up becoming the team's everyday center fielder due.
That's not how Buxton's season was drawn up, nor was the fact that he didn't play in the field at all in 2023. He was reduced to being the team's desingated hitter, and even that was rough to watch with all that he was dealing with.
Buxton was pretty useless this season, which seems harsh but was painfully true. He fell into slumps of more than 20 at-bats without a hit more than once and ended up causing more frustration among fans than providing hope.
It's something the team is hoping to change this offseason and finally help end his long-standing injury issues.
Twins give Byron Buxton injury update after undergoing knee procedure
Buxton underwent an arthrscopic knee procedure after the ALDS to hopefully clear up whatever was ailing him. It's reportedly something that has been a few years coming, but as long as he returns to form nobody will be pointing fingers.
It sounds like the next step in the process is to play the waiting game to see if Buxton's injury issues can finally be cleared up.
Buxton not being able to contribute this year was a real shame, but he remains a core piece of the team's future. If anything, the idea of Buxton returning to full health and joining the roster of talent we saw develop this year could end up being the biggest offseason addition any team makes.
Imaging a lineup with Correa, Royce Lewis, Edouard Julien, Matt Wallner, and a healthy Buxton -- that's pretty darn good.
The issue is that we're still leaning on the same hope we have for the last two years, that Buxton can stay healthy. When he does he's an All-Star and MVP candidate, but when he's not it looks like what we all suffered through this season.
Hopefully, those days are about to forever be behind us all.