Twins lose Byron Buxton (again), but their issues run deeper
The Twins have won AL Central in each of the past two seasons, but their chances of running their three-in-a-row streak have taken major hits. Not only did they stumble out the gate with a 12-20 record, but now they’ve lost Byron buxton, potentially for several weeks, due to a grade 2 hip strain. Adding insult to injury, at the time of this writing, the team possesses the dubious distinction of the greatest drop in their odds in playoffs since opening day.
Buxton, 27, was injured in Thursday’s 4-3 loss to Rangers. He injured himself while shooting a ground ball in the ninth inning, but he may have been injured before that. At the top of the seventh inning he crashed into the outfield wall and then fell to the ground in an unsuccessful attempt to fly Jonah heim of a home run:
At the end of seventh he didn’t run hard to base himself on a groundout first (I made a GIF because the video is not embeddable, but here you can hear the Twins’ play-by-play announcer, Dick Bremer, say, “Buxton isn’t out of the box”):
And then here’s the ninth inning pitch, where he was visibly limping by the time he reached first base:
After an MRI revealed the grade 2 right hip strain, Buxton was placed on the 10-day injured list, although manager Rocco Baldelli mentionned that his return is “probably more of a discussion of weeks than days.” The injury will not require surgery and is less severe than the grade 3 hip flexor strain suffered by the White Sox. Luis Robert earlier in the week, which will take three to four months to fully heal.
The worst part is probably not the moment Buxton will miss, is that his loss comes at a time when he is in the midst of one of the hottest periods of his career, fresh out of victory. AL player of the month honors for April. He hit .370 / .408 / .772 and before slipping below the qualifying threshold for home plate appearances this weekend, he led the majors in slugging percentage, second to Mike trout in wRC + (226); he is second only to Trout in WAR (2.4) and tied for third in the AL on home runs (nine). Via the Baseball-Reference Scope search (which is still in beta), only once did Buxton show a higher slugging or OPS percentage in a 24-game period; in 2017, he hit 0.386 / 0.417 / 0.773 from August 10 to September 4, with a slugging percentage of one point higher and an OPS of just nine points higher than his current 1,180.
Buxton had only played 24 games as he had already missed six games in April due to illness, mild hamstring strain and patellar tendonitis, ouchies that are barely mentioned in the long litany. of his injuries. As I noted on April 6, he missed 21 games last year due to a sprained left foot suffered during summer camp, a stint in late August at the IL for a inflammation of the left shoulder and a bullet-induced concussion during the final. weekend of the season. Amid injuries, he hit a very unbalanced looking .254 / .267 / .577 with 13 homers and a 118 wRC + in 135 PA, making him one of four players with a season of at minus 100 AP and a higher slugging percentage. twice its base percentage.
With Buxton out, Jake’s cave is the probable complement; he started in center field in 28 of the 34 Twins’ games Buxton hasn’t had in the past two seasons, including all nine this year. Alas, he was the anti-Buxton, hitting just .169 / .242 / .265 for a 46 wRC + in 92 PA, after going from a 113 wRC + in 2019 to just an 82 last year. He is also a lesser defender than Buxton in central field.
The Twins will have to settle for Cave or move to the right Max Kepler in the middle at a time when he’s warmed up (.213 / .289 / .375, 84 wRC +), while the outfield has been cleared by other injuries. Beginner Alex Kirilloff is absent due to a sprained right wrist which the twins hope will not require additional intervention a shot of cortisoneand superutility Luis Arraez, who has made seven starts in left field this year, is on the seven-day IL concussion following a collision with the Rangers wide receiver Jose trevino last Monday. Both injured players were productive, the former scoring a 113 wRC + in 44 AP, the latter a 126 wRC + in 103 AP, the team’s third highest total.
While the Twins are sixth in the AL in scores (4.69 points per game), at Buxton, Arrez and Kirilloff they are now without three of their eight regular or part-time players for a 100 wRC. + or better. While the boppers Nelson cruz and Josh donaldson are boppin ‘, the latter after making just four home plate appearances in the team’s first 13 games due to hamstring strain, Miguel Sanó (.129 / .299 / .226, 64 wRC +) and Ryan jeffers (4 for 34) have not yet started; the latter was sent to the alternate training site, returning the starting receiver tasks to Mitch garver, which produced unevenly (.200 / .268 / .480, 107 wRC +).
Regardless of who is available, the Twins will have their hands full to get out of their worst start since 2016, when they went 8-25 in their first 33 games. After starting the year 5-2, they went into a 2-13 skid, but have only played 0.500 balls since. The good news is, they’re not as bad as their record looks; they came in on Saturday with a +2 points differential, and although they slipped to -2 with a loss (then were rained on Sunday), their winning percentage of .494 PythagenPat and .525 BaseRuns indicates a more squad. stronger than their actual record. , although one who suffered bad luck. By BaseRuns, they are five wins below expectations, the biggest gap in the majors. The other 10 teams within 40 points of their BaseRuns winning percentage are all within two wins of their actual record.
The Twins’ record is largely out of balance because things often didn’t go as planned in close matches. They are tied for the major league lead in extra-innings matches with seven, and are 0-7 in those matches, one of four teams that have yet to achieve a single victory in the Godforsaken format this year. They are 3-7 in one-inning games (including 0-5 in extra-inning games) and 2-4 in two-inning games. A few hits here, a few good late-inning relief appearances there, and they could at least be 16-16.
When it comes to good embossed appearances, the Twins’ issues are more important on the prevention side of the ledger run than the offensive side. They are 12th in the AL with 4.75 points allowed per game. An enclosure that was in the AL’s top four last year in ERA, FIP and WAR, then added a closer free agent Alex Colome after a strong season (0.81 ERA, 2.97 FIP, 12 saves) was handcuffed for a 4.84 ERA (13th in AL), 4.73 FIP and -0.6 WAR (both 14th ). Colomé lost the job of farmer after blowing three of his first five saves; via too many steps and circuits it carries an ERA of 5.68 and 5.47 FIP. Taylor rogers, who has taken over tighter tasks, is only 2 for 4 as such, although he hasn’t started badly overall. Configuration man Tyler duffey, which was outstanding last year, walked and struck out 17.6% of batters en route to a 5.56 ERA and 5.04 PIF. Of their eight relievers with at least 10 innings so far, two more have BIPs above 5.00 and two have ERAs above 8.00. Hansel robles, who was torched for a 10.26 ERA and 5.89 PIF as an angel last year, is now the guy in the eighth inning. Its good.
The rotation, which last year ranked second in the AL in ERA and FIP, was very mixed while posting an ERA of 3.85 (fifth) and 4.35 FIP (10th). José Berríos, JA Happ, and Michael pineda generally pitched well, although Pineda struggled to keep the ball in the park. In fact, it is unfair to choose your 1.62 HR / 9 when both Kenta maeda and Matt shoemaker each served 2.2 out of nine circuits. Maeda, who after being acquired from the Dodgers in the busted trade and finished second in the AL Cy Young vote, lost control of her signature slider. As Luke Hooper wrote last week, he left too much ground in the middle of the strike zone, where they were demolished. As for Shoemaker, who has only played in the majors sporadically in recent years due to injury, he is in his fifth consecutive season with an xERA – ERA estimated based on contact quality – over 5.00, and his ERA and PIF are currently superior. 6.00. Is it better than the handbag of alternatives such as Devin smeltzer, Lewis thorpe, and Randy Dobnak? It’s not clear, though the last of those options, the former Uber driver, who won a five-year $ 9.25 million extension in one of this wellness stories. winter, was sent across the river (optional at Triple-A St. Paul) after being tattooed for an 8.16 ERA and 5.83 FIP.
All of this to say that the Twins’ problems run deeper than losing Buxton, although it still counts as a blow in a division where they sit fourth behind Chicago (19-13), Cleveland (18-14) and Kansas. City (16-17). By our playoff odds, the Twins started the year with a 63.3% chance of making the playoffs (division 48.6%, Wild Card 14.7%). They are down to 22.0% (14.2% division, 7.8% Wild Card), and their deltas for the division (-34.4%) and overall (-41.3%) are the biggest of the majors by a mile of countryside; The Yankees ‘15.2% drop in the AL East win and the Braves’ 22.4% drop in the playoffs by any means are next in importance. For the sake of their playoff hopes – and for the viewing pleasure of all of us enjoying Buxton’s latest breakout – they’ll need their center-back ASAP.