This is the third installment of PTPP’s ongoing series about current players, who could one day be enshrined in Cooperstown. The greatest of this generation. We’re not talking about Albert Pujols, Derek Jeter or Ichiro. We’re
talking about Chase Utley, and Miguel Cabrera. And today, we’re going to focus on the man behind the dish. Four time All-Star, one time Most Valuable Player, who was also drafted number one, overall. Ahead of Mark Prior and Mark Teixeira. The face of the Minnesota Twins franchise Joe Mauer.
Advanced statics, such as WAR, don’t really illustrate a catcher’s value. His career WAR comes solely from his offensive numbers, as there is not yet a reliable defensive metric for catchers. That being said, Mauer could end up being the greatest hitting catcher of all time. Take a guess as to which of the following four catchers is who.
Catcher A: .308/.377/.545
Catcher B: .267/.342/.476
Catcher C: .327/.408/.428
Catcher D: .285/.348/.482
Catcher A is Mike Piazza, B is Johnny Bench, C is Mauer, and D is Yogi Berra. As we can plainly see, Mauer gets on base more than any of them, but he has less power than all of them. But his raw hitting, is superior to all of them. Which makes sense. He does have three batting titles.
Only 2 catchers in history have a batting title. Bubbles Hargrave in 1926, and Ernie Lombardi won two. One in 1938 and one in 1942. Mauer has been said to have the greatest left handed swing since Ken Griffey Jr.’s. Sports Illustrated said he’s the best bet to be next player to hit over .400. His 2009 season proved that he is capable of Roy Hobbs-esque feats.
The only thing that has derailed him are a few injuries, but he’s always come better than before.
Right now, when Joe Mauer comes up to bat at Target Field, they play “What You Know About That?” but they could easily play the theme from “The Natural” like they do in Texas for Josh Hamilton, and I don’t think anyone could blame them.
In Minnesota, you can say to anybody on the street, and say “What did Joe do last night?” And you’ll get one of two responses. It will either be “I don’t watch baseball.” Or “3-4 with a double and 2 RBIs.” He’s truly loved here. Any baseball fan knows how much Twins fans swoon over Kirby Puckett. Kirby has nothing on Joe. He’s just a local St. Paul boy, making good.