Joe Mauer’s Defense

18 08 2010

This article was written on August 4th, after a game against Tampa Bay.

In Twins Territory this year, there has been a lot of talk about people moving Joe (Baby Jesus) Mauer from catcher to another position. Third? Right field? Who knows. Mainly due to Mauer’s pre-All-Star Break Slump. And this year, I’ve sat in amazement as people complain about Joe Mauer. And, I’ve yet to see why. Is he hitting .365 with 28 home runs this year? No. He’ll end up around .325, with 10 home runs. Prior to tonight’s marathon game with Tampa Bay, our boy Joe is hitting .318/.387/.472. He’s second in MLB with 34 doubles, and he’s striking out less than he did last year. His batting average on balls in play is .339, And while he doesn’t possess Carl Crawford speed, he can steal a base if he needs to. Joe Mauer can do it all. And if he didn’t have to deal with the rigors of catching, he’d hit for power as well.

The only problem with that, is Joe Mauer is an elite defensive catcher. The Gold Standard, of course is Yadier Molina. Yadi has thrown out almost half of would be base stealers, and holds his pitchers to an ERA of 2.99, though it should be stated his pitchers are Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and rookie sensation, Yadier Molina. Compared to Joe’s 4.30, with a rather pedestrian starting staff. Though, Yadi has had more opportunities to pick off thieves than Joe. Molina has caught 43% of thieves to Joe’s 27%. Molina is clearly better policing the bathpaths than Joe is.

But, when you look at F20% (percentage of balls fielded that resulted in an out) Mauer is at a spotless 100%. Molina is at 91% (full disclosure: Mauer has had 20 chances, Molina has had 34).

BF20% (percentage of bunts fielded that have resulted in an out) tells a similar story. Mauer is once again perfect, with Molina at 87%. Once again, full disclosure Mauer has had 6 chances this season, to Molina’s 15.

Throughout their careers, however it still stands that Mauer is the superior fielder to Molina. Molina’s career F20% and BF20% is 88% and 80% respectively, to Mauer’s 97% and 86%.

On blocking balls, they are mirror images of each other, with Mauer and Molina both having 4 passed balls and 21 wild pitches.

When you look at the limited amount of catching metrics out there, Mauer and Molina are rather close when it comes to just about everything apart from preventing larceny.

That is why Joe isn’t getting moved from catcher anytime soon.

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7 responses

18 08 2010
BaconSlayer09

When it comes to throwing runners out, Mauer’s nowhere near as good as Molina.

Dewan +/- keeps track of stolen base runs. Mauer’s been a -1 every year since 2008.

Molina, on the other hand, has posted a +14 in that category in the same time.

18 08 2010
bjeyestone

I do believe I made that point.

18 08 2010
BaconSlayer09

Just though I’d add in to confirm it. 🙂

18 08 2010
bjeyestone

It always grinds my gears when people just assume that throwing out base runners is the end all and be all of catching.

18 08 2010
BaconSlayer09

It’s barely half the battle as a catcher, you have to do more. But it is definitely a good way to evaluate catchers’ defense.

18 08 2010
bjeyestone

Oh, no doubt. But, the way some people talk about it, it seems they think that is it. Totally and completely it.

20 08 2010
d-dizzle

i might have a bit of my homer self showing, but molina is probably the most durable catcher in the big leagues. Mauer on the other hand plays several games at DH and has had past injuries. I think it really is shocking to say Mauer, who is terrific defensively in his own right, is better than molina. you said yourself that mauer has a smaller sample size…

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