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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 Mauerís 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. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      Those aren't the best things to look at. Mauer's OPS is very impressive. Without adjusting for ballparks, it's above guys like Dunn, Tulu, Cano, Beltran, HanRam, Rolen, Willingham and Morneau. When you take ballparks into account, his 135 OPS+ is the same as Ryan Howard, Josh Hamilton, David Wright and Todd Helton and above guys like Teixeira and Kemp. That's just his bat. No extra credit for doing it as a catcher.

      Nice to have this kind of perspective.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Also, Johnny Bench's career OPS+ was 126. And he's kinda the benchmark for catchers. (I know, terrible pun.)
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      Those aren't the best things to look at. Mauer's OPS is very impressive. Without adjusting for ballparks, it's above guys like Dunn, Tulu, Cano, Beltran, HanRam, Rolen, Willingham and Morneau. When you take ballparks into account, his 135 OPS+ is the same as Ryan Howard, Josh Hamilton, David Wright and Todd Helton and above guys like Teixeira and Kemp. That's just his bat. No extra credit for doing it as a catcher.
      And no accounting for his incredibly high OBP, which is more valuable than the slugging that most of those other guys use to get that OPS.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Well, nobody else said it:

      Tony Oliva - 3 batting crowns, health issues, Twin his entire career, no championships.

      No Hall.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by Monkeypaws View Post
      Well, nobody else said it:

      Tony Oliva - 3 batting crowns, health issues, Twin his entire career, no championships.

      No Hall.
      He was a right fielder, and he only had 8 effective seasons, after which injuries made him more or less average. Mauer's stats actually look pretty similar to Oliva's right up until his 1971 season. If Mauer has a few more of those types of seasons, he's a mortal lock. He might already be, because of the catcher advantage.

      And of course, I think Tony Oliva should have gotten more consideration for the hall anyway. But I'm a homer, and I know it.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Don't disagree. Still, the similarities are there.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      He's in... He's Famous... Head and Shoulders are not going to pay him for endorsement unless they know who he is on the east coast.

      Book it... Done deal....
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Monkeypaws View Post
      Well, nobody else said it:

      Tony Oliva - 3 batting crowns, health issues, Twin his entire career, no championships.

      No Hall.
      Well, that's why some of us have said he might not be there yet. But a few more seasons and he gets there for sure.

      every year he tacks on like last season he starts passing milestone questions like 1st ballot, inner-ring HoFer, Top 5 catcher all-time, best hitting catcher all-time, etc. I really believe that when Mauer's career is over we'll be talking about him as a once in a generation hitter and one of the best all-time at his position, a lock for the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
    1. SpantheMan's Avatar
      SpantheMan -
      If he wins 2 more batting titles id say he gets in for sure ( assuming the titles are as an at least part time catcher)
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpantheMan View Post
      If he wins 2 more batting titles id say he gets in for sure ( assuming the titles are as an at least part time catcher)
      If he wins one more he's in. How many guys have four batting titles?
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      As long as Mauer's career doesn't spiral downward like Knoblauch's then he's a lock for the HOF. And then he's probably still in. It's better that he stays at C but I don't think it matters as long as he keeps hitting.
    1. notoriousgod71's Avatar
      notoriousgod71 -
      FWIW, Bill James has Mauer's "HOF Score" at a 66, where 100 is a HOFer. I think the scores are somewhat low as he only has Miguel Cabrera at 96 and I would say he is a lock.

      Baseball reference's top comps for Mauer by age is Victor Martinez.

      The first name that came to mind for me was Bill Madlock, a guy with a bunch of batting titles but less than eye popping power and RBI numbers.

      This is a dankind-ish thing to say but at this point in his career Mauer would be a very underwhelming HOF candidate in my opinion. None of his accumulative numbers will likely scream out HOF, it will be his slash numbers and "new" stats like WAR, OPS+, etc.

      On the other hand there are a lot of what I would call mediocre players in the HOF already so if you want to compare Mauer to recent inductees Dawson and Blyleven I think he is a better player than them.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Mauer is a lock. The true debate where he will rank all-time. These guys are asking the right questions.

      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      I think he's still out of the top 5 - Bench, Berra, Cochrane, Rodriguez, Piazza and Carter are all still above him. And don't underrate a guy like Campanella. Because of segregation, he didn't get to the majors until he was 26 and a fulltimer at 27. He played 10 years and won 3 MVPs. Fisk, Torre, Simmons and Mauer would all be in the discussion to round out the top 10.
      Here's a scenario where Mauer could be one of the top catchers, all-time:

      The Twins go 74-88 in 2013, and Morneau and Willingham are dealt just before the trade deadline for talent. Ron Gardenhire's contract is not renewed. Paul Molitor is named the new manager and introduces a hustling, up-tempo offense that jells with his young core of talented position players, bolstered by one more good draft.

      Buxton and Hicks exceed Span and Revere as outfielders, and Rosario, Michael, and Santana solidify the middle infield, Sano's glove catches up to his bat and his arm at 3rd base, and Chris Hermann spells Mauer as a fine defensive catcher. Arcia, or a gloveless Sano becomes a memorable Twins designated hitter... (Who was the last memorable designated hitter?? A New but Old Problem: Who Is the Twins' Designated Hitter? - Twinkie Town C'mon, we're due here!)

      Mauer develops into a catcher/coach of promising young pitchers (a talent that he hasn't displayed, to me...), and Terry Ryan is named Sweet Genius for trading to get Alex Myer and Trevor May. (Gibson, Berrios, Bard, Hendricks, Diamond? Pick three and they round out a very solid rotation.) The bullpen doesn't crash, and Glen Perkins emerges as a top-five closer.

      Mauer produces with a batting average that gradually decreases from .320 to .280 over the next six years. He stays healthy as the Twins go deep into the playoffs from 2015-2018, takes home some hardware. Six years of catching roughly 100 games a season takes its toll. Mauer retires when he's 35, and his contract expires after the 2018 season. He ends up coaching alongside his big brother, Jake, for many more years in the Twins organization.

      This is not just wishful thinking. Stranger things have happened, we just don't believe in them. After all, we are Minnesotans.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Only catcher to have three batting titles.
      Only AL Catcher to win a batting title.
      Only catcher to lead the majors in BA.
      Only catcher to lead his league in BA/OBP/SLG in same year.
      In '09 became the 1st player in the AL to lead the league in BA/OBP/SLG since 1980.
      One MVP.
      Silver Slugger
      Gold Gloves.

      slash line of .323/.405/.468

      Not even 30 yet.

      and after all that, we're still wondering if he'll be a HOFer?
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      As long as injuries don't derail his career and he can stick at catcher at least half time over the next couple years he should be a first ballot guy. He is already one of the best 3 or 4 catchers of all time.
      Unholy hershey squirts you and i finally agree on something, I have joe as a top 5 all time
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Only catcher to have three batting titles.
      Only AL Catcher to win a batting title.
      Only catcher to lead the majors in BA.
      Only catcher to lead his league in BA/OBP/SLG in same year.
      In '09 became the 1st player in the AL to lead the league in BA/OBP/SLG since 1980.
      One MVP.
      Silver Slugger
      Gold Gloves.

      slash line of .323/.405/.468

      Not even 30 yet.

      and after all that, we're still wondering if he'll be a HOFer?
      Nice!
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Only catcher to have three batting titles.
      Only AL Catcher to win a batting title.
      Only catcher to lead the majors in BA.
      Only catcher to lead his league in BA/OBP/SLG in same year.
      In '09 became the 1st player in the AL to lead the league in BA/OBP/SLG since 1980.
      One MVP.
      Silver Slugger
      Gold Gloves.

      slash line of .323/.405/.468

      Not even 30 yet.

      and after all that, we're still wondering if he'll be a HOFer?
      Yeah. I am confused by the speculation. Only immediate career-ending injury threatens it.
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      I'm with Seth on this one, Mauer is already a lock for the hall. If he can continue to be a .300/.400/XXX hitter for the next few years, even if only half those games are behind the plate, he'll be a shoe-in when he finally hangs up his cleats.
    1. Kobs's Avatar
      Kobs -
      I think he's got many of the "career highlights" to get in already, but he really needs to start adding to his totals to be a cinch. Hits especially.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kobs View Post
      I think he's got many of the "career highlights" to get in already, but he really needs to start adding to his totals to be a cinch. Hits especially.
      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.
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