Joe Mauer is having his famous number seven retired just one season after he announced his retirement. Somehow it seems like Twins fans still do not appreciate or understand just how rare and outstanding a catcher like Joe Mauer was. For those of you in that category I am going to attempt to convince you that Joe Mauer is a Hall of Famer using an large amount of comparisons and stats because that's what I am good at. And I’m not even saying Joe is a first ballot hall of famer, but he still gets in.
In my opinion, in order to be a Hall of Famer you have to be one of the best three players during the peak or prime of your career. That is exactly what Mauer was:
- 2009 A.L. MVP (28 HR, 96 RBI, led A.L. with .365 BA, .444 OBP and .587 SLG)
- 2nd best batting average (.323) from 2004 to 2013
- 6 time all star, 5 time silver slugger, 3 time batting title, 3 gold gloves
In the MLB Hall of Fame there are just 15 catchers who played well enough to get in. I did some research and found out the average HALL OF FAME catcher hitting stats compared to Joe Mauer: AVG/OBP/SLG (OPS)
- Avg HOF Catcher: .284 AVG/.360/.445 SLG (.805), 54.3 career WAR, 35.1 WAR in 7 yr peak
- Joe Mauer as a catcher: .323/.405/.468 (.873), 39.0 WAR in 7 yr peak
- Joe Mauer career: .306/.388/.439 (.827), 55.0 WAR
The most common knock on Mauer is that he did not play the catcher position for long enough to be in the Hall of Fame so I did some more research on that and found these stats. The average Hall of Fame catcher played 15 seasons and 1,413 games. Joe Mauer caught 11 seasons and caught 885 games. He would rank 14th and 13th in those categories respectively (not last). I think the insane hitting he did as a catcher more than makes up for the fewer innings as a catcher due to dangerous head injuries.
Defensively, Mauer was also one of the best at his craft during his time. He had a career catching ERA of 4.05 and that came with some horrible seasons for pitchers after 2010. The backup catchers on his teams were Mike Redmond and Drew Butera. Redmond’s catching ERA with the Twins was near 4.50 and Butera was around 5.00 in their few years. Joe Mauer also holds the 7th best fielding percentage of all time among catchers.
Something the voters should remember about Mauer is the fact that he is the homegrown kid who stayed in the state he was raised in for his whole career. He holds the 3rd highest WAR among catchers who stayed on one team their whole career. The only two players ahead of him are current Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Bill Dickey.
Joe Mauer should be remembered for his greatness, not his late career struggles or his contract everyone hated. Oh by the way the Twins 2019 payroll is about $103 million. Last season it was about $130.5 million. The Twins could afford Mauer and then more on this team, so quit with the narrative of him retiring being the key to the Twins winning. While we are on contract talk I’ll hit you with this next bit.
Joe Mauer $ value according to fangraphs:
- Before 2011: Worth $182 million (Only paid $34.025 million)
- After 2011: Worth $125.7 million (Paid $184 million)
- In his career he was paid $218.03 million even though he was worth $307.7 million.
Why was he worth so much money you ask? Because he belongs in Cooperstown with all the other great catchers and players of all time. At the baseball reference website, there is a system called JAWS that evaluates a player and their Hall of Fame likeliness. Joe Mauer ranks 8th all time among catchers.
That is enough with the stats for now. Usually that is what I stick to because its what I am good at but for Mauer I have a lot more to offer.
The first overall pick by the Twins in 2001 lived up to all the hype. From age 16 when he was playing high school baseball, football and basketball at an elite level everyone already knew he was going to become a star. Not everyone can hit over .600 in their senior year, of course this was after leading the football team to state and averaging over 20 points per game in basketball. Joe was an elite talent that the Twins and their fans were lucky to have for the last 15 years.
After ten remarkable seasons as a catcher it seemed like Joe was a hall of famer without question. That was before the concussion. In August of 2013 Mauer suffered a career altering concussion that forced him to move to first base for the rest of his career. An injury like this could have very easily ended his playing days or stopped his good hitting altogether. Instead of letting this happen, Joe Mauer used his incredible work ethic to be at least an above average first baseman for the rest of his career. It really is tragic what happened to him considering the path he was on before the brain injury.
As Mauer continued to play through the concussion symptoms for his final years, fans began to turn on him for various reasons which was probably the most sad part for a lot of people including Joe himself. Even while getting booed at home, he went out and played to win every single day because that is just who Joe Mauer is. “I’m probably a lot more frustrated than those people that were booing.” said Joe in an interview that day. He was the true professional on the field at all times and anyone who you talk to that knows Joe will tell you what a great guy he is without anything negative.
As the 2018 season came to its final days the Twins fans started to come back a little bit to make for an emotional ending to a legendary career. Everyone remembers on September 30’th when Mauer doubled in the bottom of the 7th and received a standing ovation. Then in the final inning when Mauer returned behind the plate for one more pitch and received the most emotional cheer from the home crowd that anyone could imagine. It was truly a perfect ending to a Hall of Fame career.
Today you will get to watch Joe Mauer have his number seven retired either in person or on TV. Soak it all in one last time and appreciate an all time Minnesota legend.