Joe Mauer’s Cooperstown Case: The Batting Titles
Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY SportsI sat in the stands back in 2006 as the Twins were locking up the AL Central and Mauer beat out multiple Yankees for his first batting title. At the time, I certainly thought it was great for a catcher to win a batting title, but I didn’t fully appreciate what it meant for a backstop to be able to not only play a physically demanding position, but to also hit at an ungodly level.
He would go on to win batting titles in 2008 and 2009 before being named the American League’s Most Valuable Player for the 2009 campaign. He is the only catcher to win three batting titles. I don’t appreciate that enough and Twins fans don’t appreciate that enough. He was one of the best hitting catchers in baseball history and that’s why the Twins signed him to a franchise-altering contract.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame collects information on possible future inductee and Mauer has some unique qualifications for the Hall of Fame. He topped the .400 mark in on-base percentage in six of his seasons at catcher, a total exceeded by only four other catchers. None of those catchers started their careers after 1930. Let that sink in for a minute. Mauer was a once-in-a-generation catcher… No, that’s not enough. He was more than once-in-a-generation and not enough praise is put on what he was able to do behind the plate.
There were other very good catchers during the Mauer era, but none of them were able to match his offensive output. Yadier Molina, Jorge Posada, and Buster Posey all played in the same era as Mauer, but none were able to match his combination of offensive output and defensive capability. He was truly a once in a generation player.
Batting titles alone certainly don’t qualify a player for baseball’s highest honor. That being said, Mauer’s circumstances are clearly unique. He won multiple batting titles while playing the most physically, and likely mentally, demanding position in the sport and he did so while being one of the best players in the game.
He saw the ball. He hit the ball. And he did that better than any player to put on catching gear. No other American League catcher has won a single batting title. Not to mention, Mauer was able to pull off the trifecta.
How much do Mauer’s batting titles help his Cooperstown Case?
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