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MicroThoughts - Joe Mauer

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My Father-in-Law sent me a text yesterday afternoon. Here is what it said:

"I see iron man Mauer has missed five straight. Most overpaid player in the game. Have a great weekend."

The "have a great weekend" part was much appreciated, but the rest of the text just made me shake my head. I want to address each part of this text, as I think these are common sentiments expressed by Twins fans.

1. Iron Man quip.

Mauer plays a lot of games for a catcher. He has had years when he has missed time due to injury. That does not make him an uncommon player. A lot of guys get hurt. However, in the years when he has been relatively healthy, he has played the following amount of games:

2005 - 131 games, 116 at catcher
2006 - 140 games, 120 at catcher
2008 - 146 games!!!, 139 at catcher!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2009 - 137 games (MVP season, didn't play until May), 109 at catcher
2010 - 137 games, 112 at catcher
2012 - 131, on pace for about 140, 68 at catcher

I realize he doesn't play 162 games per year, but no catcher does. Now, I will admit that his games played figures should rise as he transitions from a catcher to more of a catcher/1st baseman, but the other years, he was primarily catching. Those games played figures are pretty in line with the figures put up by most starting catchers.

2. Most overpaid player in MLB quip.

My Father-in-Law doesn't know who Vernon Wells is. It makes for a hard argument, which is why I didn't simply respond. However, Wells, Johan Santana, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira all make more money than Joe Mauer. At this point in their careers, all are inferior players to Mauer.

3. Nothing in particular

Joe Mauer still gets on base at a higher rate than any other player in baseball. While he may not be a 162 game catcher who puts up 30 homeruns per year, he is still an extremely good player. The value he may give up as a player, he brings back to the franchise in marketability. He is far from overpaid.

Joe Mauer is a rare player. This type of franchise player comes around about once in a generation. This is not to say that he cannot be criticized, but the criticisms should be founded. Just enjoy him while you can.

I think this response might be too many characters for a text.

Updated 09-16-2012 at 02:47 PM by Brad Swanson

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  1. clutterheart's Avatar
    Leaving out 2011 leaves you open to the charge of cherry picking, as that is when the sentiment changed due to the mysterious injuries, unsourced quotes, and an unprofessional training staff.

    He had a weird attitude that year and his agent / PR team / GM / Coach did him no favors.
    Black Marks are hard to erase, he needs playoff success to win the fans the back.

    Hope the new GM backs him up with pitchers so he has the chance.
  2. OldManWinter's Avatar
    Probably a case can be made that every pro athlete, in any sport, is overpaid if balanced against long-term contributions to society.

    But, it is supply and demand. He happens to be uniquely talented at an important and demanding position. So he commands that income because he was producing big time at contract time ... and the Twins were winning.

    How many complainers would care to squat down 3-4 hours a day, 120 days per year? Or, take foul tips off the mask, the groin, foot, etc, or the collisions at home plate on a regular basis?

    Those abuses take a major toll on a body. I wager that Joe will have plenty of aches and pains in his golden years.

    I do not think he is a malingerer like I felt about Gaborik or Demitra.
  3. Brad Swanson's Avatar
    I'm absolutely with OldManWinter here. In 2011, the snarky "iron man" remark would have been more justifiable. I would have still disagreed, but I could have seen that side of an argument. This year, the comment is unfounded and somewhat unfair.

    Last year, he had a bad knee. I had a bad knee a few months ago and I could barely use the stairs. I can't imagine trying to catch.
  4. USAFChief's Avatar
    Something like 120 games per season started per season is a reasonable expectation for a full time catcher (3 out of every 4).

    Mauer has done that twice in his career, 2006 and 2008.

    And it's extremely unlikely he'll ever come close to that work load again.

    A sarcastic "iron man" label is a lot more justified than your cherry picked numbers and weak arguments imply.
  5. Obie's Avatar
    On Sunday's Sid Hartman call-in show, Dave Mona referenced the recent Randball comparison of Kirby Puckett and Joe Mauer at the same stage of their careers. Mona suggested fans were astounded to learn that their stats were essentially equal--quite apart from the different demands between outfielder and catcher. The facts don't fit the anti-Mauer meme. All the "baby-Jesus" naysayers will be shocked when he is a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee. Mauer's career OPS ranks as good as or better than nearly all the great catchers, except for Mike Piazza who was a defensive liability and played during the steroid era.
  6. Brad Swanson's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief
    Something like 120 games per season started per season is a reasonable expectation for a full time catcher (3 out of every 4).

    Mauer has done that twice in his career, 2006 and 2008.

    And it's extremely unlikely he'll ever come close to that work load again.

    A sarcastic "iron man" label is a lot more justified than your cherry picked numbers and weak arguments imply.
    Let's be honest, are your numbers any less cherry-picked? Did I miss a press release somewhere that said that 120 games caught is a reasonable expectation for a catcher? Also, he was within about 10 games of your 120 figure in 3 more seasons ('05, '09, '10). The Twins always have seemed fine with the amount of games he has caught.

    I'll agree with you 100% that he will never get anywhere close to 120 games caught again. However, I think that we as fans need to start accepting that he is a part-time catcher at this point of his career. There are still parts of his game that we should be enjoying, instead of constantly pointing out the few flaws that he has.

    I guess my point would be, this team has so many flaws that Mauer missing 5 games in September of a lost season is hardly one to focus on.
  7. USAFChief's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson
    Let's be honest, are your numbers any less cherry-picked? Did I miss a press release somewhere that said that 120 games caught is a reasonable expectation for a catcher? Also, he was within about 10 games of your 120 figure in 3 more seasons ('05, '09, '10). The Twins always have seemed fine with the amount of games he has caught.

    I'll agree with you 100% that he will never get anywhere close to 120 games caught again. However, I think that we as fans need to start accepting that he is a part-time catcher at this point of his career. There are still parts of his game that we should be enjoying, instead of constantly pointing out the few flaws that he has.

    I guess my point would be, this team has so many flaws that Mauer missing 5 games in September of a lost season is hardly one to focus on.

    1. You didn't miss a press release. You did apparently miss the last 40 years of baseball, though. 120 games (roughly a 75% workload), isn't "my" definition, it's considered a reasonable expectation for a full time catcher by everyone familiar with the game. 120 games started isn't even particularly demanding. Plenty of catchers exceed that number, often by quite a bit.

    2. Mauer didn't even start 110 games at C in '09 or '10. Again...120 games is reasonable, so 105 is 15 games short of reasonable...roughly another 10% of the season with Mauer not behind the plate.

    3. I agree missing 5 games isn't a big deal. Had that been your original point, I would have no disagreement. But you went to great lengths to prove that "Mauer plays a lot of games for a catcher." He doesn't. Never has, and most likely never will.
  8. jm3319's Avatar
    Plouffe missed a lot more than 5 games with a little thumb injury and hasn't returned to form since. Where was all the outrage over that? Or does no one care because he isn't making $23 million a year?
    Updated 09-18-2012 at 10:45 AM by jm3319
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