The Twins are the only AL Central team headed to the playoffs this year, and they’re set to do so with a handful of key players on the injured list. Fortunately, as noted by Bobby Nightengale of the Star Tribune, shortstop Carlos Correa, third baseman Royce Lewis, and outfielder Byron Buxton all participated in a simulated game this afternoon as they work their way back for the upcoming playoff run.
MLB.com’s Do-Hyoung Park adds more specific details on the timelines of each player: Correa is expected to return in time for the playoffs, and could possibly be activated before the end of the regular season. Lewis is currently able to hit but isn’t running yet, which figures to be a significant hurdle even if the 24-year-old youngster returns exclusively as a DH in the postseason. Buxton, meanwhile, is the most up in the air of the three, though it’s worth noting that the defensive phenom hasn’t been ruled out for a return to the outfield with the Twins this postseason.
Overall this year, Buxton has slashed just .207/.294/.438 in 85 games with the Twins while being exclusively relegated to DH. That’s significantly hampered his value, as Buxton is one of the best defenders in the sport when he’s healthy enough to take the field. Meanwhile, Correa’s bat has taken a major step back this year as well with a slash line of just .230/.312/.399 in 580 trips to the plate this year, though as the club’s everyday shortstop his return should nonetheless help stabilize the club’s infield situation. Overall, Lewis appears likely to impact the Twins the most of the trio this postseason in terms of offense, as he’s posted incredible numbers when healthy enough to take the field. In 239 trips to the plate this year, Lewis has slashed an incredible .309/.372/.548 while playing third base for the Twins.
More from the AL Central…
- Despite Tigers shortstop Javier Baez being in the midst of what’s become the worst full season of his career, the 30-year-old veteran apparently hasn’t ruled out the possibility of opting out of the final four years and $98MM left on his contract with Detroit after the season comes to a close. In conversation with reporters, including Chris McCosky of The Detroit News, Baez said “I don’t know what’s going to happen, to be honest with you,” noting that after the season the sides would “sit down… and see what’s going to happen in the offseason.” Given that Baez has been a bottom-four qualified shortstop this year in terms of fWAR ahead of only Enrique Hernandez, Tim Anderson, and Amed Rosario, it would be something of a shock to see the veteran decide to test the open market. That said, he would join a dismal free agent shortstop class this offseason and still sports an elite glove at shortstop, as evidenced by his +8 Outs Above Average, which ranks in the 96th percentile per Baseball Savant.
- Guardians infielder Gabriel Arias is done for the season. As noted by MLB.com, Arias was hit by a pitch over the weekend but returned to the lineup yesterday, only to feel pain after swinging the bat. Upon receiving an MRI, Arias was revealed to have sustained a non-displaced right wrist fracture. It’s a disappointing end to the season for Arias, who required surgery on that same wrist last offseason. The 23-year-old youngster has struggled at the plate in limited playing time over the past two seasons, with a combined .207/.282/.348 slash line in 402 trips to the plate since making is debut in 2022. Looking ahead to 2024, Arias figures to compete with fellow youngster Brayan Rocchio for the shortstop job in Cleveland next year, barring an external addition.