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Byron Buxton believes he's the best player in baseball

"Nobody [does] the things that I do. I know that."
Byron Buxton

The Minnesota Twins finalized a seven-year contract extension with Byron Buxton on Wednesday and as usual, Buxton made the rounds with the media.

But during an interview with WCCO Radio's Chad Hartman, Buxton credited his even-keel approach as a reason for his success and his new $100 million deal.

"I've got a chip on my shoulder," Buxton said. "I'm the best player. I don't care who you are. I could go 0-fo-4 or 4-for-4 and it's an even keel."

Hartman then asked if Buxton believed he was the best player in baseball.

"Yes," Buxton said. Nobody [does] the things I do. I know that. Nobody plays defense like me. Nobody hits like me."

Buxton's comments stem from an excerpt from his press conference earlier in the day. When asked when he turned a corner in his career, he recalled working in the cage with former Twins hitting coach James Rowson during the 2017 season.

"It was one of those things where he told me each and every day, 'You're the best player.'" Buxton said. "I had to mentally prepare myself each and every day like 'You know what? I am the best player.' Once my mindset shifted to [that], the other stuff didn't matter."

That 2017 season was Buxton's initial breakout at the major league level where he hit .253/.314/.413 with 16 homers and 29 stolen bases. More importantly, he played in a career-high 140 games.

Durability has been an issue ever since. He was limited to 28 games due to a variety of injuries in 2018 and since the start of the 2019 season, Buxton has played in just 48 percent of the Twins' games.

But when Buxton has been on the field, he's backed up his claim. Since 2019, Buxton has hit .277/.321/.575 with 42 homers, 105 RBI and 25 stolen bases over 187 games. Even if those numbers are cut down to his past full season, Buxton has put up stats worthy of MVP consideration.

To add to Buxton's claims, he's been an elite presence in center field. According to Baseball Savant, Buxton ranks fifth among all MLB outfielders with 22 outs above average and 20 runs prevented since the start of the 2019 season.

In addition, Buxton's 4.2 wins above replacement ranked 11th among MLB outfielders and tied for 35th among all MLB hitters despite playing in just 61 games last season.

Those numbers could be why Buxton agreed to an incentive system that rewards him on top-10 finishes in MVP voting in his new contract. It's also worth noting that Buxton received MVP votes in 2017 (18th) and 2019 (16th).

It's clear that Buxton has the talent to become one of the best players in baseball but if he stays healthy, he'll have the opportunity to prove it.

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