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  • Is Joe Mauer a lock for the HOF?

    Bill Baer wrote an interesting article the other day at ESPN.com letting the world know that it was time to appreciate Joe Mauer. This is a skill that many Twins fans are lacking in recent years especially following his injury plagued 2011 season. As far as the rest of the baseball world, there is probably a little less recognition for Mauer’s continued consistency since the Twins have been one of the worst teams in baseball over the last two seasons. Mauer is one of the best players in baseball and he might just be the best hitting catcher of all-time.
    One interesting portion of the article took a look at Mauer's career WAR when compared to other catchers that are already enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. "Mauer currently ranks ahead of Roy Campanella, Rick Ferrell and Ray Schalk. He isn't far behind Roger Bresnahan or Ernie Lombardi. If Mauer can stay healthy and productive through the end of his current contract (a very big if), he very well could be a lock for enshrinement in Cooperstown."

    So this begs the question, is Mauer nearly a lock for the HOF?

    If Mauer's career were tragically to end before the start of next season, it doesn't seem likely that he would have the numbers to be elected. He is close to crossing the 1,300 hit mark so he hasn't even made it to the halfway point of the 3,000 hit plateau. His power numbers are never going to get him elected since he has yet to hit 100 home runs in nine years of big league experience. The true test of his greatness might be in his ability to keep his lifetime batting average as high as possible. Mauer is a career .323 batter and he gets on base over 40% of the time.

    There are plenty of accolades that have started to mount for Mauer. The three batting titles that he has already won are unprecedented for a catcher. He was close to winning his fourth title last season before falling off at the end of the year. Batting titles are great but they don't necessarily mean that he will get enshrined in Cooperstown. Twins fans are well aware of the case for Tony Oliva to make the HOF and he had three batting titles to his credit before he was forced to retire.

    Mauer's MVP season in 2009 was something that statisticians could drool about because of his combination of power, average, and playing a tough defensive position. One great season doesn't mean a player should be a lock for the Hall. There have been plenty of players to win one MVP and never be close to reaching that mark again. Some consider Justin Morneau's MVP selection as one of the worst in the Division Era. Injuries have made it tough for him to get back to that form.

    Looking toward the future and projecting the rest of Mauer's career, it is easy to think that he will get strong consideration for the Hall of Fame. His health will continue to be something to watch especially since he is close to 6-foot-6 and he has a lot of weight on those precious knees every time that he squats behind the plate. The Twins will continue to use him at other positions as he ages but his tie to greatness is his ability to be a catcher.

    When some try to name the best catcher in the history of the game, Johnny Bench usually tops most lists. Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk, and others are also thought of highly. These men racked up a lot of innings behind the plate and it doesn't look like Mauer will be a full-time catcher for the rest of his career. These men were solid as catchers in a gritty era of baseball.

    Bench played 17 seasons and caught close to 14,500 innings, Bera caught over 12,000 innings, and Fisk racked up 18.500 innings. Mauer currently sits at 7,224 innings as a catcher and he has averaged 858.2 innings per season. Last season, he logged a little over 600 frames at catcher, which were the fewest he had in a season that he played over 100 games. If this trend continues, it could take away some of his votes when it comes to election time.

    At this point, it doesn't seem like Mauer would be a lock for the Hall of Fame. It will likely take multiple more seasons at his current rate of production for him to be a lock. Twins fans will get to watch Mauer on every step of his journey and hopefully that path will lead him to the gates of Cooperstown.

    What does Mauer have left to accomplish to get into the HOF? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
    This article was originally published in blog: Is Joe Mauer a lock for the HOF? started by Cody Christie
    Comments 70 Comments
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Lock? Not yet. He probably needs at least 2-3 decent seasons and up to 5 more total seasons (play out his contact). Too early to tell - he just has 9 season under his belt. After their first 9 seasons, Juan Gone, Darryl Strawberry, and Doc Gooden were "locks" too.

      Is Pudge a "lock"? is Piazza a "lock"? Is Pedro a lock? Is Bonds a lock? Those are more meaningful discussions.

      I just have a hard time talking about HOF credentials of players in their prime. Give them time.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Lock? Not yet. He probably needs at least 2-3 decent seasons and up to 5 more total seasons (play out his contact). Too early to tell - he just has 9 season under his belt. After their first 9 seasons, Juan Gone, Darryl Strawberry, and Doc Gooden were "locks" too.

      Is Pudge a "lock"? is Piazza a "lock"? Is Pedro a lock? Is Bonds a lock? Those are more meaningful discussions.

      I just have a hard time talking about HOF credentials of players in their prime. Give them time.
      Pedro is a 100% lock...so is Piazza.
    1. darin617's Avatar
      darin617 -
      Mauer is no lock at all to be a HOF. You want to factor in that he is putting up HOF numbers for a catcher, but he is no longer a full time catcher. So all stats he compiles me nothing if he keeps playing 1B.

      By the way, I fully expect him to one day be a HOF. That would be the Twins Hall of Fame. Tony Oliva deserves to be in Cooperstown more than the Golden Boy Joe Mauer.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by darin617 View Post
      Mauer is no lock at all to be a HOF. You want to factor in that he is putting up HOF numbers for a catcher, but he is no longer a full time catcher. So all stats he compiles me nothing if he keeps playing 1B.

      By the way, I fully expect him to one day be a HOF. That would be the Twins Hall of Fame. Tony Oliva deserves to be in Cooperstown more than the Golden Boy Joe Mauer.
      Except all the things he's done...as a catcher...as him being the ONLY catcher to EVER do, won't go away even if he's playing less catcher as his career goes on. BTW, it's Gardy who has him playing less catcher. Having Doumit there to fill in, Butera needing his playing time too, and with Morneau needing to play less at 1B due to doctor's recommendation, Mauer was the best choice to fill in.

      But, by your post, you can tell you just dislike the guy...you really don't have much of an argument
    1. Kobs's Avatar
      Kobs -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      No catcher has as many as 2700 hits...

      Only 8 catchers have 2000 or more hits...be shocked if he doesn't get there. 730 to go.
      That's all well and good, but he has 1,270 right now. 2,000 is another four very good seasons away.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Is Pudge a "lock"? is Piazza a "lock"? Is Pedro a lock? Is Bonds a lock? Those are more meaningful discussions.
      Every one of those guys should be first-balloters, though Bonds probably won't make it because the BBWAA is full of hypocrites.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kobs View Post
      That's all well and good, but he has 1,270 right now. 2,000 is another four very good seasons away.
      And he just turns 30 next year..and, yeah, he has 1,270 hits... that's why I wrote he was 730 hits away from 2000 :-)
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by darin617 View Post
      Mauer is no lock at all to be a HOF. You want to factor in that he is putting up HOF numbers for a catcher, but he is no longer a full time catcher. So all stats he compiles me nothing if he keeps playing 1B.

      By the way, I fully expect him to one day be a HOF. That would be the Twins Hall of Fame. Tony Oliva deserves to be in Cooperstown more than the Golden Boy Joe Mauer.
      He's still playing at least half the time at catcher, so I think he still counts as a catcher. And regardless, his stats count even if he'd DHing, just maybe not as much to some voters if he stops playing a significant defensive position.

      Oliva was a terrific player and has a reasonable HoF case, but the injuries really costs him and the last 5 years of his career added very little to his case for the Hall. Oliva had an 8 year run where he was an elite hitter and was an all-star for all of them. But his case is based on the premise that his peak was high enough to to get him in absent real longevity, as the other 7 years of his career just don't help him.

      Mauer, on the other hand, is already almost even with Oliva's career WAR, above him in OPS+ and looks to be able to add several more seasons of significant value. The only way Oliva is above as a player Mauer is if Mauer stops playing in May and ends his career.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Did anyone read Gleeman's latest article on Mauer, dated Dec 28?
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Did anyone read Gleeman's latest article on Mauer, dated Dec 28?
      I just read it and found it informative. Here is a link.
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