Just a day into the second half of the season, the Minnesota Twins already received their first injury blow. Center fielder Byron Buxton, suffered a strained left groin during Friday's game and is now headed for the disabled list. While Buxton's bat hasn't lived up to expectations, his defense in center field will greatly be missed by the Twins while he is out.
The 23-year-old has appeared in 84 games for Minnesota this season. At the plate, Buxton's numbers have left a lot to be desired. Across 286 plate appearances, Buxton posted a .218/.292/.311 slash line, .269 wOBA and 62 wRC+. Buxton's plate discipline has been a constant issue, demonstrated by a 30.8 percent strikeout rate.
But his defense in center field keeps him in the lineup. Amongst qualified center fielders, Buxton ranks fourth in UZR/150, first in RngR and first in Defensive Runs Saved (17). His speed, instincts and athleticism is consistently on display in center field where he is able to track down baseballs that few outfielders in the sport can reach and make diving and leaping plays that no one else can.
His absence shouldn't be extended as this is more so the team playing it safe with a player who always pushes things on every play and runs full speed at every opportunity. With Buxton sidelined for the next 10-plus days, Max Kepler could move over to center and open up more playing time over the next week for Zack Granite.