Byron Buxton's New Contract Top Whatever
Byron Buxton has been my favorite Minnesota Twins player since pretty much the day he was drafted. I watched the 2012 First Year Player Draft on MLB Network live as it happened. The Twins had the number two overall pick that year, due to an absolutely inept 2011 showing. I'd done a little reading up on the top prospects going in, and of all the options available, I hoped Minnesota would draft Buxton. Who they were favored to take, if Houston (who had the first overall pick) passed on him.
As we all know, Houston took Carlos Correa, and Minnesota did indeed draft Buxton.
And we got exactly what I wanted for the Twins. A five tool, highly athletic center fielder, that could hit for average and power, with lightning speed and excellent fielding skills. The type of player that you build a franchise around.
But one thing went wrong along the way... Buxton couldn't stay healthy.
Injuries slowed his development, and large chunks of seasons were missed. Meaning he didn't start living up to his potential until his service time clock had gotten precariously close to hitting free agency. Which put the Twins in a hard spot. Buxton deserves to be paid a salary that fits his skills and performance. But to make a large commitment in both money and years would be a disaster, if the injuries kept him off the field for long stretches of time.
Losing Buxton to free agency was a distinct possibility. After all, if Minnesota wasn't willing to pay him what he was worth, another team definitely would. But when you've missed as much time as Buxton did, what exactly is your worth? When he plays, he's become one of the best in the game. But is that a gamble a team like the Twins would make? After all, Twins fans have heard ownership cry poverty for decades.
Last summer, the idea of trading Buxton became public. This was around the time where news broke that he'd rejected a contract offer. Another longtime Twin, Jose Berrios, also rejected the team's long term contract offer and found himself in Toronto at the trade deadline. We kept Buxton, but the team said they'd further assess trying to sign him in the offseason. Or the option of finding a trade partner was still on the table. Allowing Minnesota to acquire a prospect or two before he'd likely leave as a free agent, after the 2022 season.
All along, Byron Buxton said over and over that he wanted to stay in Minnesota and finish his career with the Twins.
But was that even realistic?
Byron Buxton didn't tear any tendons in his wrist while signing his new contract!
I was in the grocery store parking lot when I read that the Twins and Buxton agreed on terms. Psyching myself up for shopping, I looked at my phone and saw an alert from MLB Trade Rumors, saying the Twins had made a move. "Minnesota Twins and Byron Buxton agree to a 7 year, $100 million contract." The story went on to add there were significant incentive clauses based on performance. Those details would continue to come in throughout the afternoon.
Buxton could have easily gambled on his 2022 performance, and with another big year would have likely doubled his guaranteed money. Which probably wouldn't have come from the Twins. (I'd bet on the Yankees, they have an affinity for injury prone ex-Twins... Remember Aaron Hicks?) Agreeing to these terms today proved that Buxton meant what he said in regards to wanting to stay in Minnesota. Frankly, I was a little shocked.
About a year ago, I had to watch the Colorado Rockies trade away one of my favorite players, due to their own ineptitude. After signing Nolan Arenado to a contract they couldn’t afford, they mismanaged every possible angle and pretty much ran him out of town.
2021 - Mosaic Field Vision - Nolan Arenado
Now when I get an awesome card of Nolan, it just makes me a little sad...
But I probably won’t have to worry about that with Byron Buxton, unless Falvine pulls a Bridich.
So with all that out of the way, it’s time to present the...
Top 84 Byron Buxton Cards in my Collection!
(With several interruptions to discuss the state of the organization that Buxton has committed himself to…)
Starting with number 84 on the Whatever...
#84 - 2021 Topps Archives - Byron Buxton
Topps Archives is always a fun set, but for whatever reason, they traditionally choose some of the most basic of head shots for Buxton cards. The 2021 edition featured him on a 1957 design, and went with a candid head shot instead of a posed one. But I still don’t like it. So it has the distinction of my least favorite Byron Buxton card I own.
#83 - 2016 Studio - Bryon Buxton
Panini’s rather uninspired 2016 take on the classic early 1990’s Donruss set. Granted, your options are limited without team logos, but this is still pretty weak.
#82 - 2019 Topps Archives - Byron Buxton
Two years earlier, Topps did slightly better with a posed shot for it’s Archives set. This time it was mimicking the 1958 set, and the pink background surprisingly doesn’t look all that wrong for the image.
#81 - 2016 Topps Archives - Byron Buxton
2016 saw Topps use the 1953 design, but washed out the photo instead of making it look hand-painted, like 1953 Topps cards did.
#80 - 2021 Allen & Ginter - Byron Buxton
Allen & Ginter is a fun set, but it doesn’t feature the things I look for in cards. I’m a big fan of good photos and vibrant colors on cards. By design, that’s not what Allen & Ginter is about. For the most part, I’ll just buy the singles I want instead of opening a bunch of wax. Especially since Topps has gotten away from putting as many wacky subjects in the base set in recent years.
I still want the Allen & Ginter card of an Egg from a few years ago...
#79 - 2017 Allen & Ginter - Byron Buxton
Buxton's combination of speed, power and defense hasn't been seen around the Minnesota Twins in decades. Probably not since the days of this man roaming center field in the old HHH Metrodome...
2021 Topps Archives - Kirby Puckett
I've really missed seeing the classic combination of bright green seats and yellow poles of old Comiskey Park in Chicago. A common sight on all baseball cards produced before 1991, I have to thank Topps for this flashback on a really cool Puckett photo I've never seen before.
#78 - 2014 Bowman Fire Die-Cut - Byron Buxton
Not sure what Topps was thinking with this concept… In theory, it was meant to show that the player was so hot, he melted the card that he’s on. If that wasn’t explained to you, I doubt you’d figure that out just from the look of it. My first impression was a sort of tidal wave. Instead, it’s just some weird lump of poorly colored crap, with a photo of Byron Buxton in the middle of it.
And there’s parallels!
#77 - 2016 Topps Heritage - Byron Buxton
Another pretty basic no-frills card from Topps.
#76 - 2015 Donruss Elite - HYPE - Byron Buxton
Pretty sure this was the first Buxton insert card I pulled from a pack, way back in 2015. While it’s nothing special, from the beginning of his Major League career, it was one I was very pleased to have acquired without paying a premium.
#75 - 2021 Optic - Byron Buxton
Optic would be Panini’s Chrome version of Donruss, without calling that. But everything you can say about Optic to Donruss, can be said about Topps Chrome to Topps. Your base cards are nice, but plain, and all the interest is in the Prizms. Which would be Panini’s answer to Topps’ Refractors.
Still wonder what is going to happen to all these card traditions once Fanatics takes over everything in a couple years...
Oh wait, now I (and we all) know!
#74 - 2018 Topps Big League Nicknames - Byron Buxton
Topps Big League is a lower tiered set aimed at younger collectors. For me, something that was usually picked up at the Targets and WalMarts of the world, back when you would find their card aisles well stocked. This insert set combined the uniforms worn on “Players Choice Weekend” with the player’s nickname. Not a bad card, I’ve just never been a fan of the “Players Choice Weekend” gimmick.
#73 - 2021 Donruss - Byron Buxton
The base Donruss version of the Optic card featured two cards ago. This one is liked slightly better because the detail hasn’t been removed from the photograph during the Chroming process. (Or Opticking process?)
#72 - 2013 Bowman Draft - Byron Buxton
I think this was my first ever Buxton card. It would probably rank higher if Topps hadn’t nearly wiped out the entire photo behind him. I get that they were trying to make Buxton stand out, but they went too far. Common sight in this (and other) Bowman sets of this era.
#71 - 2014 Bowman Green - Byron Buxton
Which spread into 2014 as well... For whatever reason, Topps decided to wash out all of the photos in Bowman (and some Topps) sets between 2012 and 2014. I really don't like these sets because of the muted pastel color pallet going on. However this green parallel is serial numbered, so that’s good for something.
#70 - 2016 Bowman - Byron Buxton
By 2016, Topps was still getting a lot of those Photoshop filters out of their system. Kind of washed out, but not nearly as bad as three years earlier.
2021 Topps Silver Pack - Josh Donaldson
Donaldson is the Twins highest paid player through the 2023 season, at around $23 million per year. As of now, when his contract ends, Buxton will take over that title, at a $15 million base. Per his contract, bonuses will pump that amount up based on performance. But if injuries persist, Buxton will still clear $15 million each year until through 2028. Even a string of disastrous injuries to Buxton over the next 7 years won’t destroy the team’s payroll.
#69 - 2017 Topps Heritage - Byron Buxton
Now we move onto the Topps Heritage portion of the Whatever...
Buxton on a 1968 Topps is a nice look.
#68 - 2018 Topps Heritage - Byron Buxton
Buxton on a 1969 Topps offers a similar feel. I’m glad that Topps chose to not mute the backgrounds of these photos. I like that distinct look of Spring Training that Hammond Stadium’s outfield offers.
#67 - 2019 Allen & Ginter - Byron Buxton
This Allen & Ginter card ranks higher because it has a background. It’s the same background that’s used on many Allen & Ginter cards from this set, but it’s not just a player floating in the netherworld.
And what is Byron looking at?
#66 - 2013 Bowman - Byron Buxton
More washed out 2013 Bowman...
2011 Topps Diamond Anniversary - Joe Mauer
When it comes to the Twins paying out a huge contract to a homegrown star, the measuring stick will be the Joe Mauer contract for a long time to come. When it finally ended, the Twins paid Mauer $184 million, over the last 8 years of his career. An average of $23 million per season. For that investment, Minnesota received slightly above average production, just not to the level of a superstar that $23 million should buy. Injuries took a lot from Mauer (similar to Buxton), but he was never a serious run producer, even when healthy.
Mauer’s contract ate up a significant portion of the payroll for a (later) first baseman who never drove in 100 runs in any of his 15 seasons. He hit for a high average (some years), but with the exception of one season, never hit more than 13 home runs. Mauer was fairly productive until 2014, at which point the Twins still owed him well over $100 million, and got little in return after that. With all that money owed to him, it likely prevented the Twins from making some moves that would've helped us not finish in last place so much. We could’ve tried to trade him, but he was a local guy! Who had little value outside of Minnesota.
That contract prevented the Twins from moving on, when it was clear that Mauer wasn’t going to hit enough to justify the money he was making. Injuries and concussions prevented him from catching, where he would have still held some value. So we were stuck with a soft singles hitting first baseman, at a premium power position. Making superstar money while producing like a middle of the road infielder. When the idea of signing Buxton to a deal to keep him in Minnesota came up, I wanted the Twins to do it, but was worried it would be a repeat of the Mauer deal.
#65 - 2020 Topps Heritage - Byron Buxton
While $15 million a year is nothing to sneeze at, if Buxton misses significant time due to injury over the course of the next 7 seasons, that chunk of money wont be disastrous to the team. However, if he goes off on a tear, incentives could bring his salary up to as much as $28 million per season. That would require him winning the AL MVP award for seven years in a row... But if that were to happen, the Twins would reap all sorts of additional benefits of his success.
Perhaps even a Wild Card berth?
#64 - 2021 Mosaic - Byron Buxton
Mosaic was a fun set for 2021. I bought quite a bit of it because I liked the clean look, and all the different flavors of parallels. Moderately expensive, but they provided good value at the price point.
#63 - 2021 Topps Chrome - Byron Buxton
On the whole, I liked Mosaic a lot more than Topps Chrome. They’re fairly similar sets in what they were trying to accomplish. But my dislike for 2021 Topps is in full effect here. The Topps Chrome Buxton ranks ahead of Mosaic, because it’s a better picture (and has logos), but I feel like Mosaic is an overall better set.
Unrelated note, Topps jammed as many generic no-name relief pitcher autographs as they could possibly fit into this set, then jacked the prices on unopened product. Unopened box prices are obscenely inflated, just to pull a mediocre 27 year old rookie middle reliever as your box hit. To the point that many online have started calling this set 2021 Topps Chrime.
And that amuses me...
#62 - 2019 Topps Heritage - Byron Buxton
The Lee County Sports Complex on a cloudy overcast February day...
#61 - 2021 Topps Heritage - Byron Buxton
The Lee County Sports Complex on a partly cloudy February day...
#60 - 2013 Bowman Scouts Top 100 - Byron Buxton
Entering the 2013 season, Bowman ranked Buxton as the 24th best prospect in the game. This assessment comes off 48 games of Rookie League ball. Buxton put up a .248/.344/.448 slash line, with 5 home runs and 11 stolen bases, as an 18 year old. His ranking would improve considerably over the coming years.
2021 Topps - Gilberto Celestino
When Buxton went down with his regularly scheduled lengthy 2021 injury, the Twins had to bring up 22 year old Celestino from AA Wichita. Everyone knew Celestino was a very talented center fielder, but had only played a handful of games above A ball, before heading directly to Minnesota. He clearly wasn't ready for an every day role in the major leagues, but we had little choice...
After Buxton returned, Celestino went down to AAA St. Paul. He remains a good prospect, though his path to a regular spot in the Twins lineup is complicated by Buxton re-signing. While I hope he will not miss any significant chunks of time due to injury, developing Celestino makes for a good insurance policy, if/when Buxton hits the IL in 2022.
Maybe doing more yoga while Chris Russo screams at him, will keep Buxton on the field regularly in the future?
#59 - 2018 Topps Legends In The Making - Byron Buxton
In 2017, Buxton played 140 games with the Twins, as a 23 year old. For nearly a full season, he put up respectable numbers for a player at his age. Some obvious flaws showed up due to inexperience, but all signs pointed to Buxton becoming a star. Maybe not a legend, as Topps assessed here, but a star at the least. Which the Twins needed badly. Topps took this potential and featured him in many of their insert sets across 2018. I didn’t mind that...
#58 - 2018 Topps Archives - Byron Buxton
The header image for this story is also the best Archives card Topps has made for Buxton. Which is a crime. He deserves better cards from one of Topps more collectable sets.
#57 - 2018 Bowman Chrome Refractor - Byron Buxton
Perhaps this one was ranked too low. I think it's better than the 57th best Buxton card I own.
#56 - 2017 Topps Bunt - Byron Buxton
It's definitely better than anything from Topps Bunt...
#55 - 2021 Topps - Byron Buxton
I hate 2021 Topps. But this ranks almost ten cards above the 2021 Topps Chrime card I talked about a little bit ago. I do like the picture. I just really hate that border with all of the pointless pointy rectangles sticking in where they don't belong. I've seen pictures of what 2022 Topps is going to look like over the last few months. Not the greatest design, but miles ahead of this terrible set.
With all of this attention to the 2nd Overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, there was another significant Twins player who joined the organization on the same day...
Jose Berrios was also a 2012 First Round Draft Pick of the Twins, going 32nd overall in the supplemental round. Berrios made his Major League debut in April, 2016, and would become the Twins best home grown pitching prospect in recent memory. A two-time All Star, the issue of signing him long term became a bigger question. Berrios talked of testing free agency, and rejected every contract the Twins offered.
Obviously, I have no idea what those negotiations were like, but it seemed like Minnesota wasn't offering near what his value would have been. Berrios made it clear that he wasn't going to accept the Twins long term contract offer, and would likely walk away at the end of the 2022 season as a free agent. So it made the most sense to trade him while his value was highest. He drew enough interest on the trade market that the Twins were able to have a choice of the best available compensation. Just hours before the 2021 Trade Deadline, Jose Berrios was on his way to Toronto.
2021 Stadium Club Chrome - Jose Berrios
I had to trade a Mike Trout Beam Team card from this set, in order to acquire Jose Berrios' first Blue Jays card. Yes, I technically got ripped off, but I needed it for this story! Besides, the Trout was a duplicate for me. I doubt the Angels would've offered Mike Trout to the Twins for Berrios. Now if they did, the Twins probably don't need to re-sign Buxton.
A few days before the Twins announced the Buxton contract extension, the Blue Jays announced signing Jose Berrios to a 7 year contract, for just over $131 million. Would the Twins have offered that same deal to Berrios? Did they? Would he have signed for that? Hard to say... Looking at other free agent pitcher contracts, these numbers were not as unrealistic as we were led to believe Berrios' demands were.
Unfortunately, we now have a massive Berrios sized hole in our rotation, but we did get two of Toronto's top prospects in the trade. Including...
2021 Bowman Scouts Top 100 - Austin Martin
The fifth overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, considered to be one of the best college hitters available in his class. After the trade, Martin went directly to AA Wichita (Kansas) to become a Wind Surge. Martin has played both shortstop and center field in his debut minor league season, and should start 2022 in AAA with the St. Paul Saints. Where he should be joined by pitcher Simeon Woods-Richardson, the other half of the Twins return from the Blue Jays.
Unless the Twins trade him for pitching help. Which I really hope they don't...
The irony would be obnoxious...
2021 Topps Archives - Kenta Maeda
After all, the 2022 Twins are going to need all the pitching help they can get, since their most experienced starter went from finishing 2nd in the 2020 AL Cy Young vote, to catching a case of Tommy John Surgery at the end of 2021. Maeda will miss the entire 2022 season.
#54 - 2021 Donruss Blue - Byron Buxton
For the past 2 years, I've participated in the box breaks held by my Pal's at Pal's Sports Cards. Only once have I drawn the Minnesota Twins for a break. The one time I did, a box of 2021 Donruss was included in the festivities. Meaning this is the best Byron Buxton card that has come to me from a box break.
#53 - 2021 Topps National Baseball Card Day - Byron Buxton
I opened a total of three packs of Topps' 2021 National Baseball Card Day promotion, and all three of them had this Buxton card inside. They also had Trevor Story and Mike Trout cards in each of them. So while I didn't complete the set, I doubt I could've done any better than I did.
#52 - 2021 Topps Fire - Byron Buxton
Wonder if this highly Photoshopped photo was taken from the same swing as the last card?
#51 - 2019 Topps - Byron Buxton
With his incredible speed, baseball purists probably expect Buxton to bunt a lot to reach base. As he's become more of a power hitter, I don't remember seeing him bunting as much the last couple of seasons. And I bet that really irritates Cranky Tom Kelly.
#50 - 2020 Stadium Club - Byron Buxton
So here he is bunting again! In the road uniform!
#49 - 2016 Topps Heritage Refractor - Byron Buxton
Another example of a great cheap Buxton pickup from Pals. I doubt I bought more than 10 packs of 2016 Topps Heritage, so my chances at pulling one of these was pretty much non-existent. But a few years later I find this for less than the price of a single pack!
#48 - 2017 Topps - Byron Buxton
2017 Topps was another set that I bought very little of, because it was another terrible Topps design. So much wasted space with pointless geometric shapes. 25% of the photo is covered by gray and white that doesn't need to be there. It is a nice photo though...
#47 - 2015 Topps Rookie Debut - Byron Buxton
The "Rookie Debut" subset. Simple way for Topps to pad their set with duplicate rookie cards.
And they do it every year...
#46 - 2018 Topps Chrome 1983 Anniversary - Byron Buxton
Another cheap Pal's pickup that I likely wouldn't have found in a pack, because I didn't buy enough of them to really hit the ones I wanted.
#45 - 2013 Bowman Future Of The Franchise - Byron Buxton
Well, Bowman wasn't wrong...
It's also no secret that the Twins need pitching of all sorts. During the hectic pre-lockout free agent signing frenzy of November 2021, they didn't seem to be in on any of the names that went off the board. I suspect they put all their energy into getting the Byron Buxton contract hammered out, so pitching help was put on the back burner. However, just before the owners locked the players out, the Minnesota Twins did sign this guy...
2021 Topps Heritage - Dylan Bundy
A world of unfulfilled potential!
The fourth overall pick in the 2011 Draft, Bundy hasn't found any sustained success in the Major Leagues. He's battled injuries and mediocrity, and those results add up to a typical Twins free agent signing. He shouldn't be terrible, but he certainly wont be excellent. Bundy is pretty much the free agent starting pitcher I would have expected the Twins to sign. He just has to be better than Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ, to not be a disappointment. It's a low bar to clear.
It's not like Max Scherzer was ever signing with Minnesota anyway...
You know, this is the perfect opportunity to show off my super special skills of Photoshoppery!
2021 Topps Heritage - Dylan Bundy - Captain Honkass Variation
Combining pieces of several Byron Buxton cards, I've expertly updated Bundy's 2021 Topps Heritage card to reflect his new team!
Hire me Topps!
#44 - 2018 Stadium Club - Byron Buxton
For whatever reason, 2018 Stadium Club suffered from the exact same washed out color problem that ruined 2012-2014 Bowman. Combine that with the ridiculously oversized position letters, and you get my least favorite Stadium Club set of the last six years.
Although this is a decent picture from an overall lackluster set.
#43 - 2020 Topps - Byron Buxton
As Buxton's game has developed, the stolen bases have significantly dropped off. I'd hoped for a 40/40 season from him at some point, and would have been thrilled with even a 30/30 year. Maybe we'll get a 35/15 year? That would definitely net him some significant bonuses on that new contract.
#42 - 2015 Bowman Chrome - Byron Buxton
Not having an LCS between 2013-2018, I missed out on a lot of good Twins singles from that period. Living in Colorado, I had even less access to desired Twins singles. Pretty easy to say that well over half of the Buxton collection came from the Twins boxes at Pal's.
#41 - 2018 Gypsy Queen - Byron Buxton
Although, this one did come from a retail pack. Most likely from Targets.
#40 - 2018 Topps Award Winner - Byron Buxton
When it comes to padding their insert sets, Topps tends to pick certain players and make tons of cards for them. usually they are Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers. But if Topps sniffs out a young prospect who shows real potential, you're going to see a whole bunch of them. With Buxton coming off a strong 2017 campaign, he was featured in many insert sets. Probably more than any year since.
#39 - 2015 Bowman's Best - Byron Buxton
The use of plain Helvetica for the Twins text and Buxton's name doesn't really fit in with the dynamic design of the rest of the card. That always bugged me about this card, even though I still really like it.
#38 - 2018 Topps Opening Day - Byron Buxton
Topps Opening Day before Opening Day... Guess that sounds better than calling it Spring Training?
#37 - 2016 Topps Chrome - Byron Buxton
This card actually did come from a retail pack I bought. From the WalMarts in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Laura and I were on vacation, and the WalMarts in town had 2016 Topps Chrome Value Packs in stock. I bought a few of them while we were visiting.
#36 - 2014 Bowman Platinum - Byron Buxton
Bowman Platinum cards are either great looking or subpar.
#35 - 2018 Topps Glove Work - Byron Buxton
Look quick! Another redundant 2018 Topps insert card!
Not saying it's a bad one though...
#34 - 2018 Topps Fire - Byron Buxton
Retail exclusive set for Targets. Gallery goes to WalMarts. Both are pretty much the same, although Fire is a lot more colorful. To it's detriment in most cases...
#33 - 2018 Bowman - Byron Buxton
It took Topps several years to correct their early 2010's color issues, but by 2018 they'd hit the right formula. While the designs have once again featured far too many pointless angles and shapes, the color was bold and vibrant. Bowman is Topps future lottery ticket brand, high risk and high reward, but as long as the cards look nice, even the non-winning tickets are worthwhile.
Speaking of non-winning tickets, the 2021 Twins season was a whole lot of losing and bad times for the present. Although the soft rebuild in our future doesn't look completely bleak...
2021 Stadium Club Chrome - Trevor Larnach
2018 First Round Draft Pick Larnach made his Major League debut early in the 2021 season, and showed enough potential to become a possible building block. His overall numbers didn't look great, but upon deeper examination, Larnach has a good eye and decent power potential. Given a broader chance in 2022, there should be a nice improvement in his production.
Or he is traded for pitching help...
2021 Panini Phoenix Silver - Alex Kirilloff
2015 First Round Draft Pick Kirilloff made his Major League debut in the 2020 American League Wild Card Series. Becoming one of the first players to debut in the postseason. Kirilloff battled wrist problems for much of 2021, and didn't put up the numbers that many expected going into 2021. He is a lot less likely to be traded than Larnach, and should see ample playing time at both first base and the corner outfield positions.
#32 - 2018 Topps Big League - Byron Buxton
Topps Big League is far superior to Topps Opening Day, as far as the low end Topps sets go. I liked the 2018 version, the 2019 version was too loud, but the 2020 set was very attractive in it’s simplicity. Not sure what happened to the 2021 version of Big League, but it’s not like the world really needs it...
#31 - 2015 Topps - Byron Buxton
Buxton’s actual Topps rookie card is in 2015 Topps Update. Now it lags behind all of the Kris Bryants and Francisco Lindors in the set, due to their faster rise to superstar status. Buxton could be a future sleeper in a very solid and good looking set. The 2015 design stands out in recent years as colorful and fun, without being overkill.
#30 - 2016 Stadium Club - Byron Buxton
That beautiful ground level shot of Buxton running out onto Target Field should absolutely rank higher than where I placed it...
#29 - 2020 Gypsy Queen - Byron Buxton
I’ve never figured out whether I like Gypsy Queen cards, or I can’t stand them. Looking at a couple here and there, I find them really appealing. But when I’ve purchased some unopened packs (retail or hobby), I quickly sour on them. Less is more, I guess...
#28 - 2015 Topps Tek - Byron Buxton
Gimmicky plastic rookie card that I forgot I owned.
#27 - 2016 Finest - Byron Buxton
Wish Finest wasn’t so expensive and/or hard to find. Liked the product from (now) nearly 30 years ago, but the price point and content have never really seemed worth it.
#26 - 2021 Gypsy Queen - Byron Buxton
Again, I really like this card. But put another 15-20 from the same set along with it and I probably feel different...
Must be some sort of voodoo?
#25 - 2016 Bowman Platinum - Byron Buxton
2016 was the year that Topps made Bowman Platinum an exclusive to WalMarts. Since then, I've bought very little of the product. It's sold out pretty quickly, and I don't frequent WalMarts often enough to be there in time. Luckily, those buying it, rip the packs and sell the singles back to card shops so I'm able to get the base cards that way. Big hits are usually sold online. And I rarely buy cards online. I probably should, but I'm just not a fan of doing it.
#24 - 2018 Topps Chrome Refractor - Byron Buxton
Man has 2018 Topps Chrome unopened packs shot up to the stratosphere, due to a certain Japanese import... I looked online recently and couldn't find boxes selling for much less than $1,000. Not that I was looking to buy one (I already did in the Summer of 2018), but I was curious to see the current market.
#23 - 2018 Topps Don't Blink - Byron Buxton
This is ranked too high. It looks cheap, but I still like it a lot.
#22 - 2014 Bowman Chrome Mini - Byron Buxton
Speaking of cards ranked too high...
Buxton was the second overall pick in 2012. But just four years later, the continuing ineptitude of Minnesota's team leadership resulted in the number one overall pick in the 2016 Draft.
2021 Bowman Chrome Mega Box - Royce Lewis
The Twins took Lewis, an athletic high school shortstop, with that pick. Since then, he's flashed signs of being a future star, offset by missing a whole bunch of time due to injury. Covid wiped out his 2020 season, and his 2021 season was over before it began, thanks to a torn MCL. Fingers crossed that he can make it back and contribute to a team that desperately needs a good shortstop.
Not like the Twins are signing Carlos Correa. The top rated free agent shortstop, coincidentally drafted by Houston as the only player ahead of Buxton in 2012, will not be playing for Minnesota. That's fine, I just don't want to see Andrelton Simmons back here next season...
Lewis will almost certainly open the 2022 season with AAA St. Paul, where he will hopefully prove that he is ready for the Major Leagues. After this many years, I'm anxious to see what Lewis can do at shortstop. I wish him success, but fear he will flop.
#21.5 - 2021 Stadium Club Chrome Virtual Reality - Byron Buxton
A late arrival, from a Stadium Club Chrome box opened last weekend, I had to slot this in somewhere. Perhaps a little low, this is a stunning card.
#21 - 2019 Topps Silver Pack - Byron Buxton
Do love the Topps Silver Pack cards, the Parquetflooringfractor effect looks really good on old Topps designs. Although I'm just not that interested in seeing the 1987 design again next year, so soon after it was used in 2017. Bring on 2023 Topps, with the 1988 design, all sorts of Parquetflooringfractor-ized!
#20 - 2015 Bowman Scouts Top 100 - Byron Buxton
Just ahead of making his Major League Debut, Bowman ranked Buxton as the #1 prospect in the game. Signified by this sweet die-cut insert.
#19 - 2019 Topps Major League Material - Byron Buxton
Awfully bland design for a game-used memorabilia card... And I really miss the Twins retro pinstriped home uniforms. Far superior to the baby blue throwbacks everyone goes nuts for. They really need to bring the pinstripes back...
#18 - 2015 Topps Tribute - Byron Buxton
For a decent stretch of time, this was my best Buxton card. I picked this card up from the old Three Stars Sportscards shop in Roseville, MN, during a 2015 visit to Minnesota. Not long after I moved back to Minnesota, that shop closed. Which sucked because I liked their inventory and prices. They still exist at another Minnesota location, but I've never driven out there. Just too far for my lazy ass...
#17 - 2019 Stadium Club Warp Speed - Byron Buxton
Another cheap insert card that really worked. The Warp Speed theme was to highlight the fastest players in baseball. If you're going to have an endless stream of insert sets highlighting top home run hitters and strikeout pitchers, throw a bone to the speedsters every now and then...
Let's take another quick break from Byron Buxton cards to mention another positive the Minnesota Twins have going for them...
2021 Topps Chrome Xfractor - Luis Arraez
An unheralded prospect going into the 2019 season, Arraez showed up in Minnesota as a 22 year old and quickly became a productive hitter. He doesn't really have a steady position, but can play second, third, short or left field, at an acceptable level. Just not at an exceptional level. He'll figure into the lineup nearly every game, take a walk and not strike out a bunch. Not much power or speed, but will put the ball in play. And those types of players have a good deal of value, even if they're not superstars.
Arraez is a useful piece, but not a necessary piece. Which is why his name is often mentioned as a trade candidate. No secret, the Twins need pitching. And a lot of it. I don't want to see Arraez traded, but I could see other teams wanting him. While he doesn't have a clear-cut position to play in Minnesota, our lineup would suffer without him.
Someone needs to set the table for Buxton!
#16 - 2015 Bowman's Best Refractor - Byron Buxton
This card looks familiar...
Oddly enough, it was bought at the same time I picked up the base version. For $3.
The non-Refractor was $2.
What a deal!
#15 - 2014 Bowman Platinum TP - Byron Buxton
Something that Bowman Platinum does well is making attractive Refractory looking cards on regular card stock. Which is likely a lot cheaper than the Chrome stock of the... well... Chrome cards.
#14 - 2021 Mosaic Prizm - Byron Buxton
The scan does NOT do this card justice...
#13 - 2021 Topps Chrome Pink Refractor - Byron Buxton
The scan doesn't do this card many favors either... But it's serial numbered!
#12 - 2014 Bowman Chrome Black Refractor - Byron Buxton
My dislike of 2012-2014 Bowman does not extend to these sweet Black Refractors! Serial numbered to 75, I was shocked to be able to pick this up from Pal's for only $5. I haven't seen a whole lot of Black Refractors from any years...
As I mentioned, Buxton doesn't steal bases like he did over his first few years. While I don't think he's lost much of his speed, this is more of case of being careful. I'll gladly sacrifice a few stolen bases each year so he doesn't tear a quad trying to steal third in a blowout loss. He just doesn't need to... More importantly, with his new contract set up the way it is, Buxton's skills would have to really deteriorate in order for the Twins to regret this signing.
1994 Finest Refractor - Alex Cole
And I don't think Byron Buxton is any risk to suddenly turn into Alex Cole, any time soon.
#11 - 2018 Topps - Byron Buxton
2018 Topps is still one of my favorite Topps designs of all time.
#10 - 2016 Bowman Chrome Top 100 - Byron Buxton
In 2015, Topps ranked Buxton as the number 1 prospect in the game (according to the Bowman insert set). But one year later, his stock plummeted all the way to number 2. If you're keeping track at home, Corey Seager bumped Buxton from the top spot. Likely due to Buxton not setting the league on fire, during his 2015 Major League audition.
#9 - 2014 Bowman Platinum Speed - Byron Buxton
Bowman Platinum went all sorts of die-cutty and paper Refractory crazy in 2014. Not even sure what all is going on here, but I do like it!
#8 - 2016 Topps Chrome Perspectives - Byron Buxton
Perspectives were a really cool insert set. Pretty common and easy to get, I pulled this from a pack, at the same WalMarts in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
#7 - 2020 Spectra Jersey - Byron Buxton
Panini Chronicles have been some of my favorite cards over the past two years. The idea of including cards from 25-30 different brands in a single card release is a really fun idea. I love that you can buy a box, and not know what set you're going to get cards from in any given pack. The Spectra brand was a box hit in 2020 Chronicles, with one base card per box. Jersey cards showed up about one in two boxes. Despite buying a bunch of it, I didn’t pull this Buxton. This card was purchased from one of Pal's Twins boxes for $15.
And the scan does not do it any justice...
Let's say something positive about the Twins again!
2021 Diamond Kings - Ryan Jeffers
Something they have going for them is a strong bunch of young catchers. Starter Mitch Garver has become a decent defensive catcher with above average power. Jeffers offers a solid bat, but less power than Garver. Riding the light rail between Minneapolis and St. Paul is young Ben Rortvedt, who is probably the better defender of the three, but has the weakest hitting tool.
Again, this position of strength could be thinned out in a move for more pitching.
If I was running the Twins, I'd probably sign a couple more veterans to one year deals and use 2022 to look at what we have for young pitchers. In 2021, we saw some potential from Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan, and have names such as Cantarino, Balazovic, Duran, Winder and Woods-Richardson in the upper minors. With Kenta Maeda out for the entire season, I don't want to see us trade away too many of our prospects in an effort just to finish in 3rd place.
We're not winning the division. We're not getting a Wild Card spot. Use 2022 to develop some of our strong bank of prospects and see what we have for 2023. Then make a stronger run. Just don't sacrifice too much of the future for a pointless run at mediocrity now.
#6 - 2013 Bowman Platinum - Byron Buxton
Back in the earlier days of Bowman Platinum, Topps used the Chrome cards as parallels. What amounts to basically a purple Refractor is probably the most attractive early Buxton card I own. I always wanted an autographed Buxton Bowman 1st card, but that has so far eluded me.
#5 - 2016 Topps Chrome Refractor - Byron Buxton
Hated the 2016 Topps flagship set. The overly large logo stripe and high percentage of ghosted white smog obscuring the photo took too much away from the overall look. However, this worked a whole lot better for the Chrome set, especially the Refractors. Most of the 2016 Topps Chrome Refractors are really striking. This Buxton is a good example of that.
#4 - 2014 Bowman 1989 Specklefractor - Byron Buxton
That's probably not the name of this card, but that's what I'll call it. 2014 Bowman included an insert set based on the highly underwhelming 1989 Bowman rebirth. No one has a favorable opinion of that set, and I doubt anyone was clamoring for a tribute. But Topps decided to honor the 25th anniversary of that cardboard turd with a set of top prospects, all colorful and bespeckled. The Buxton is the only one I own, but it looks pretty cool.
#3 - 2013 Bowman Platinum Top Prospects - Byron Buxton
I absolutely love the colors in this card. Deep blue, black and purple. This card looks like it should be a certified autograph, but isn't.
#2 - 2014 Bowman Inception Dual Autograph Jersey - Byron Buxton / Miguel Sano
This card didn't last a day in the display case at Pal's before I bought it. Back in 2014, neither Buxton nor Sano had made the Major Leagues. Both were top prospects in the Twins minor league system. Many predicted superstardom for both, and a dual auto/relic serial numbered to just 15, was a big deal. Obviously I wasn't buying boxes of Bowman Inception in 2014 (or 2021), so finding this card for about a third of the price of a pack of 2014 Bowman Inception was a no-brainer.
2021 - Stadium Club Chrome Refractor - Miguel Sano
Yes Miguel, you’re big and strong… We get it… We’ve seen it for years.
Problem is, a well rounded baseball player does more than just hit big home runs. For years now, we’ve seen a third of every plate appearance end in a strikeout. Sano doesn’t walk nearly enough to balance that out either. For much of 2021, Sano was batting under .200, which also isn’t an anomaly. His first year in the Major Leagues was (like Buxton) 2015. Sano hit .269 in his rookie season, and we all thought that he’d improve on these numbers and become a perennial MVP candidate. Problem is, he’s never hit above .269 in any season since.
Most years it hasn’t been anywhere close to that number... Sano has posted such lofty batting averages of .236 in 2016, .199 in 2018, .204 in 2020 and .223 last season. Sano was supposed to be a massive building block. Instead, he’s kind of just been a block...
Laura got this for me as a 2020 X-Mess gift. This was one of the heavy vinyl banners that lined the walkway up to Target Field, during the 2019 season. She purchased it from the Minnesota Twins website, so it even has the MLB Authenticator hologram down in the lower right corner. If you look really really really close, you can almost see it! My favorite part is that it's from the Twins trippy 2019 ad campaign. Featuring TV spots that were a kaleidoscope of loud colors, spinning hot dogs and other baseball foods and images.
That ad campaign made me wish the Rockies used those ads every year.
#1.5 - 2017 Spectra Signatures - Byron Buxton
Serial numbered 12/15. Another late addition to the Buxton Whatever, this card was a 2021 X-Mess gift from Laura. Soon as it entered the Buxton collection, it shot ahead of every card except for the number 1. She didn't know this, but told me that morning that as part of my gift, she transferred money to me to buy what I wanted for cards. Luckily Pal's was open on X-Mess Eve!
Unfortunately I had to venture out to pick up some last minute gift cards and other essential nonsense that morning. Traffic was awful, stores were packed, and people were being people. After stopping at four separate stores, I needed a sanity break at my favorite card shop. New cards always takes the sting out of going out in public. I made my purchases, then this Buxton caught my eye.
As it had for years. It's literally been in his case since before I moved back to Minnesota in 2018. I've looked at it during nearly every visit, and have no earthly idea why I never bought it before. All of that shiny, circley, refractory Panininess is stunning in certain light. The low serial number and clean signature add to it's draw.
#1 - 2015 Leaf Trinity Auto Patch - Byron Buxton
My first Byron Buxton autograph included a sweet chunk of jersey, with a multi-color patch and serial numbered 1/10. It’s an on-card signature, instead of a pre-signed sticker, so there’s a lot to love about it. Even if it’s from an unlicensed product.
This card, and most of my Byron Buxton collection came from Pal's Sports Cards. Before moving back to Minnesota, I found this shop was located just a few miles from my parent’s house, when I was back in town from Colorado. After moving back here, and buying a house with Laura, Pal’s was even closer to where we were now living. And much to my budget’s chagrin, Pal's Sports Cards was even more convenient to just stop in and spend some money.
Pal's Sports Cards was owned by Brian Barker. He told me that he opened the store in 2010, and worked his full time job during the day and would go into the card store at night. His wife ran the store during the daytime hours. He said that a few years ago, the store was making enough money that he was able to quit his full time job and make a living just off the card store. I had to laugh, as that timeline would have jived with me moving back and starting to drop copious amounts of money there every few weeks...
It was a fun place to go and lose yourself in the hobby. When you develop a friendship with a card store, you get to know the employees and they get to know you. They start looking for stuff for you to buy when you come in. For the last several years, nearly every time I went to Pal’s, I was greeted with a small stack of Rockies and Expos cards that he found for me. After being hesitant, Brian finally sold me on the idea of joining in on Pal’s bi-weekly box breaks. He was right, they were a lot of fun!
Brian passed away on December 9, 2021.
His store will continue to run thanks to his employees, and I will continue to support the store for supporting my habit.
But this news was definitely a high fastball to the rib cage.
Rest in peace, owner of fun.