In a Twins lineup loaded with power hitters, center fielder Byron Buxton can get lost in the shuffle. Buxton’s nevertheless a valuable member of the reigning AL Central champions’ roster, though, and after undergoing left shoulder surgery last September, he’s recovering well, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune reports.
The 26-year-old Buxton received medical clearance this week to swing a bat again and could be ready to face live pitching by the time the Twins’ full-squad workouts begin Feb. 17. That’s yet another bit of encouraging for the Twins, who won 101 games a season ago and, after they struck a deal with star third baseman Josh Donaldson, appear very likely to open 2020 as the favorites in their division.
Buxton’s known to play the field with reckless abandon, which helped lead to injuries that limited him to a meager 87 games and 295 plate appearances last year. Despite an abbreviated campaign, he was an important part of Minnesota’s superb effort. The former No. 2 overall pick managed 2.7 fWAR, hit .262/.314/.513 with 10 home runs and 14 stolen bases, and posted 10 Defensive Runs Saved, a plus-8.7 Ultimate Zone Rating and 12 Outs Above Average in center. None of that production is easily replaceable, and if Buxton’s healthy enough to start 2020 in the Twins’ outfield, it’ll make an already strong team even better.