Cooperstown Case: Helping Joe Mauer’s Hall Chances
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The 3,000 hit mark has been a magical threshold for players to get into Cooperstown. Out of Hall of Fame eligible players, only two players with over 3,000 hits have failed to be enshrined. Pete Rose has been banned from baseball and Rafael Palmeiro tested positive for a banned substance during his playing career.
Mauer just cracked hit number 2,000 so he’d have to play for most of the next decade to get close to the 3,000 hit mark. As I wrote about last week, Mauer is approaching rarified air among the best hitting catchers of all-time. This season alone, he has a chance to pass Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, and Mike Piazza.
If Mauer had been able to stay behind the plate, he could have gone down as one of the best hitting catchers of all-time.
Keep Bad Seasons To A Minimum
For a player to make the Hall of Fame, he doesn’t need to be great for every season of his career. However, one of the most important things to do is to avoid have prolonged seasons where the player is viewed as slumping. Concussions and blurred vision put Mauer into a three-year stretch where he didn’t hit like he had before the injuries
When Mauer suffered his concussion in 2013, he entered a three year stretch where there were some offensive struggles. From 2014-2016, he hit .267/.353/.380 while averaging 28 doubles, eight home runs, and 100 strikeouts. To put that in perspective, the AL average numbers for 2017 were .257/.321/.423.
Even in Mauer’s bad seasons, he was hitting higher than the league average and getting on base much higher than the league average. He came back in 2017 and hit over .300 for the first time since his injury. He might have weathered the worst seasons of his career if he can post a similar batting line (.305/.384/.417) to last season in the years to come.
Joe Mauer’s future is a little up in the air. His contract expires at season’s end and no one know if he will continue to suit up for the Twins or for any other team for that matter. His positional switch has helped him to average more games played per season (127 games/season as a catcher, 138 games/season as a first baseman). If he is feeling healthy and continues to perform well, there’s no reason Mauer can’t continue to play throughout his upper-30s.
Some of the all-time greats had to finish their careers in other uniforms and one has to wonder if that will be the eventual path for Mauer. Willie Mays played into his 40s but he ended his career in a Mets jersey. Babe Ruth finished his age-40 season in a Boston Braves uniform. Yogi Berra is best remembered for being a Yankee but his last game came with the Mets. Even Twins great Harmon Killebrew finished in a Royals jersey.
It’s hard for some of the best players in the world to hang it up. When baseball has been your entire life, walking away from the game can be the tough decision. Mauer is one of the best players in Twins history but he will need to continue playing if he wants to get the call from the Hall.
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