In the season of special performances – Shohei Ohtani, Jacob deGrom, etc. – Twins’ Byron Buxton’s injuries seem particularly cruel
Hell. Just damn it.
Look, maybe I’m greedy. It’s been a tremendous season when it comes to individual performances. Mets ace Jacob deGrom is dominating a pitcher as we haven’t seen him dominate. Angels ace / DH Shohei Ohtani is doing things we’ve never seen in a baseball diamond. The juniors – Vlad Guerrero, Fernando Tatis and Ronald Acuña – are acting like super-duper stars. It’s a great thing to see the full potential play out.
It’s all very, very exciting. The future of the sport is very clear.
And yet? Byron Buxton was on the injured list again on Tuesday. Great thing, you could say. Wake me up when he’s not on the shelf, you’d say. The water is wet, Buxton is hurt, you might say.
Shut up, I’ll tell you for sure.
Buxton is unique. He’s a unique talent, and he’s a special player, with two or three normal players who have had to work to overcome more obstacles to injury. He has won the long-awaited advancement season.
For a short time this spring, it looked like 2021 could be his year. Before reaching IL in 24 games before the start of the season, Buxton hit .370 with nine homers, five stolen bases and 1,180 OPS. Her elegant step was once again patrolling from the outside in search of the Twins. She was glorious.
Buxton could have always been Byron, a talent who finished 2nd overall in the 2012 MLB Draft and for the third year in a row was ranked first in the Baseball America prospecting rankings.
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But then a hip injury. Buxton lost 40 games. He came back and got 3-9 in his first two games, a double, a homer and two RBIs. In the third inning of his third game, however, he was hit by a 94-mph fast Tyler Mahle.
Twin manager Rocco Baldelli called it a “boxing fracture,” a broken bone (the base of the fifth metacarpus of his left hand).
“This is not fair,” Baldelli said at his post-press conference.
It’s not a damn damn thing. Really cruel, to be honest.
How good has he been this year when he is at Buxton Field? Let’s just say: in its 27 games, Buxton has 3.0 bWAR. He is the ninth major to start on Tuesday.
Ninth. He has played 27 games.
All others in the top 30 have played at least 49 games. This 3.0 is ahead of Acuña, has 20 homers and has 15 stolen bases. Ohtani (as a player) is ahead, he has 23 home runs. Nick is ahead of Castellanos, the major leader with an average of .341. He is ahead of Jose Altuve, Manny Machado, Matt Olson, Rafael Devers and so many other players with great seasons. Mike Trout was also having a great season before the injuries hit IL. In his 36 games, he released 2.0 bWAR.
Again, Buxton 3.0 was in 27 games. That is nonsense.
Buxton’s loss – another absence that will surely be measured, not in days – is devastating for the twins and not only for their fans, but for those of us who love to see special players, we do special things. I see Buxton and I can’t think of Eric Davis, the star I grew up with when I saw him. Davis was a rare talent, but his injuries — so many cruel and cruel injuries — left him with the “what if” label after his career, instead of the “Hall of Fame” label.
It hurts me to think that it could be Buxton’s last fate in baseball. He has only been around for 27 years. It’s not too late. Health can be a variable thing.
I feel Buxton’s aching pain, maybe more than I normally would have. He broke the fifth metacarpus in his left hand; I’m dealing with a second metacarpal fracture in my left hand. Hit by a fast 94 mph race in baseball, I was injured after a ball that fell on my ass during a softball game in the beer league.
The best thing I can do right now is remove the writing splint. But hold on to anything? No. Yesterday I had to ask my wife to open a zipper bag. The finger is broken, but all hands hurt with any pressure. Doc told me six weeks before I did any physical activity. I hope I don’t have to go back to the office; Buxton will have regular treatment with some of the best in the world. A broken bone does not heal faster, however.
Here we hope that Buxton will heal quickly, and that when he returns in full force, he will somehow pick up where he left off, just like the first time he returned from IL in 2021. My fingers are crossed right, of course).