- Sports reporter, Kansas City Star, 2002-09
- Writer, Baseball, Baseball Prospectus
- Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus
- Member, Baseball Writers Association of America
- Member, Professional Basketball Writers Association
Think of it as the Minnesota Twins’ version of a Shohei Ohtani question: What is the best way to extract the maximum on-field value from the considerable and varied skill set of Byron Buxton?
In an ideal world, the choice would be easy: He would be a fixture in center field.
Alas, this simple formula has been complicated by Buxton’s frequent injuries, the latest of which was knee trouble last August that ended his 2022 season and resulted in a procedure last September. This season, in an effort to keep Buxton’s bat in the lineup and protect his knee, Minnesota has used Buxton exclusively as a designated hitter.
This, too, would seem a simple thing if not for the fact that Buxton is one of the most impactful defenders of his generation and arguably the most athletic DH ever to log this much time at the position.
The ploy has worked, more or less, as Buxton has played in 91% of the Twins’ games, all at DH, and he has posted a 128 OPS+. But there is a cost to the plan, as the Twins are missing out on all the other stuff that Buxton does well like, you know, playing center field as well as anyone of his generation.
The answer to this dilemma is elusive, but it’s a fascinating conundrum. So let’s dig in.
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