Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Article: Twins Minor League Report (5/25): Vargas Powers...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 12:40 AM
CEDAR RAPIDS - This report comes to you directly from Cedar Rapids where I will be the next few days. Tomorrow will be a busy day with so...
Full topic ›

Article: SEA 2, MIN 1: Paxton Outduels Romero

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:34 AM
Fernando Romero was excellent once again, but he was dealt his first loss in five starts because the Mariners took advantage of their opp...
Full topic ›

Article: Why Isn't Mitch Garver Playing More?

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:37 PM
Jason Castro recently became the latest in a series of injuries and suspension which have contributed to a pedestrian start to the 2018 s...
Full topic ›

Article: Game Thread: Twins @ Mariners, 5/25 @ 9:10pm CT

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:16 PM
The Twins kick off a 3-game series in Seattle tonight and I’m going to be serious for once in my life.I’d like everyone’s attention as I...
Full topic ›

Time to shuffle the deck

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:16 PM
This could be a very bad week. I'd like to see them shuffle the roster/batting order and bullpen.   Release Grossman. DFA Kinley and...
Full topic ›

Cooperstown Case: Should Joe Mauer Make the Hall of Fame?

Whenever Joe Mauer decides to hang up his cleats, he will go down as one of the best players in Twins history. That part is undeniable, but his larger legacy is still in question. As recently as 2013, Mauer seemed destined for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Concussions and a forced position switch have put his Hall of Fame resume into question.

Mauer is coming off his best season at first base and he’s been on a hot streak to start 2018. Will Mauer get the call? Let’s examine his Cooperstown Case…
Image courtesy of Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
JAWS
For those unfamiliar with JAWS or Jaffe WAR Score system, it was developed by Jay Jaffe as “a means to measure a player’s Hall of Fame worthiness by comparing him to players at his position who are already enshrined, using advanced metrics to account for the wide variations in offensive levels that have occurred throughout the game’s history.” Players' JAWS score takes their career WAR and averages it with their 7-year peak WAR.

When the 2018 Hall of Fame voting started, there were 15 elected catchers and 20 elected first baseman. Mauer scores very well when compared to Hall of Fame catchers. Catchers' weighted career WAR is 53.4, WARpeak is 34.4, and JAWS is 43.9. Mauer currently has a 54.5 career WAR, a 39.0 WARpeak, and a 46.7 JAWS. This would rank him as the seventh best catcher all time.

First base is a different story but Mauer has only played 36% of his games at first base. Hall of Fame first basemen have a 66.1 career WAR, a 42.6 WARpeak, and a 54.3 JAWS. Obviously, Mauer doesn’t fit the prototypical mold of a first baseman at the plate. However, he has developed into one of the best defensive first basemen in the game. Last season, Mauer ranked as the third best first baseman according to SABR’s Defensive Index.

JAWS isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to the Hall of Fame so let’s look at some other parts of Mauer’s Cooperstown Case.

Mauer’s Statistical Legacy
Counting statistics like hits, home runs, and stolen bases go a long way toward improving a player’s Cooperstown Case. Mauer is never going to be remembered for his power but other statistical areas paint him in a favorable light. With his 2,000th hit last week, Mauer is approaching other top catchers on the all-time hit list. Johnny Bench finished his career with 2,048 hits, while Gary Carter (2,092) and Mike Piazza (2,127) could also be in Mauer’s reach this season.

As the voting bloc for the Hall of Fame gets younger, other statistics are going to improve Mauer’s chances at making the Hall. He is currently in some very elite company when it comes to his hit total, batting titles and career slash line.

The hitters on that list are basically a who’s who of all-time best hitters. At this season’s early stage, Mauer is currently near the top of the AL in hitting. A fourth batting title would place him in even more elite company. He is already the only catcher to win the batting crown in the American League and he has the most batting titles for a catcher all-time.

Mauer gets a lot of negative publicity for his lack of power. However, Mauer ranks 14th among all catchers in OPS. This puts him in front of all-time catching greats like Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, and Ivan Rodriguez. All three of those players were elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

On the bases, Mauer also separated himself from other catchers. In fact, he might have been one of the best base-running catchers of all-time. Up to the 2013 season, Mauer’s last as a catcher, he ranked fifth all-time according to FanGraph’s BsR calculation. BsR combines Weighted Stolen Base Runs, Weighted Grounded Into Double Play Runs (wGDP), and Ultimate Base Running (UBR).

Historical Perspective
Ernie Banks and Don Mattingly provide some historical perspective for Mauer’s Hall of Fame case. Banks hit .290/.353/.552 with 296 home runs in his first eight seasons. As part of that stretch, he won back-to-back MVP awards. Knee problems forced Banks to move off shortstop in 1962. He finished his career as a first baseman, where he hit .260/.308/.450 and posted a 104 wRC+. Banks ended up playing 200 more games at first base than shortstop.

Like Banks, Mauer was forced to move from an up-the-middle position to first base. Mauer is 400 games away from having more starts at first base than at catcher. As a first baseman, Mauer has hit .282/.362/.397 so his numbers are a little higher than Banks'. However, the baseball environment has been very home run happy in recent years so one could expect Mauer’s number to be even higher.

Mattingly, like Mauer, was one of the best hitters in the game for a stretch of time. From 1982-89, Mattingly won an MVP and a batting title, while hitting .323/.368/.521. At the end of that run, Mattingly suffered a back injury and was never quite the same player. Baseball in the early 1990s was becoming a slugger’s paradise and Mattingly hit .286/.345/405 over his last five seasons.

For 15 years, Mattingly went through the Hall of Fame voting process. His highest season was his initial year on the ballot, 2001, when he had a 28.2% of the vote. His voting totals dropped from there and ranged from 20.3% to 8.2% before his time on the ballot expired in 2015. Mattingly never played a premier defensive position like Mauer so this could help Mauer’s overall case.

So, is Mauer a Hall of Fame player? There is plenty left to be decided. How much longer will he play? Can he earn another batting title? Could he win a Gold Glove at first base? Mauer’s case is up in the air and a lot will depend on what he does with the rest of his career.

  • h2oface, MN_ExPat and LilMauer like this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

68 Comments

Photo
Andrew Thares
Apr 17 2018 11:13 AM

I think the biggest thing with Mauer's HOF case is how long can he keep preforming at a high level. If he can do it into his late 30's I think he has a real shot, but if he can only do it for another year or two, its gonna be a tough to see writers voting him in that don't carry the same sense of nostalgia that many of us have for Joe.

    • caninatl04 likes this

He needs at LEAST one gold glove at 1st. Should've had one last year. I wish baseball would make changes to the GG voting so the best defensive players win.


According to this article, Mauer was ranked as the third best defensive fist baseman. So he still wouldn't have won the gold glove.
    • Thrylos and Mike Sixel like this
Photo
diehardtwinsfan
Apr 17 2018 11:37 AM

 

Projections for another 5 years of Joe would have gotten you a one way ticket to the loony-bin not too long ago.  

 

I want to weigh in because I read all the time but never comment.When Joe was in line for hit #2000 I had thought there would be more coverage of it.I waited around to see what type of stuff some of the baseball channels would run about Joe because 2000 hits is a BIG deal (or at least I thought it was).TBH, there wasn't much national coverage on it..and that tells the story for me about how the baseball world views Joe.Great player, but not worthy of that much coverage in mainstream media's eyes.Now....if he makes a nice run at another batting title, and solidifies the Twins lineup through an epic World Series run...we might be cooking with gas...Point being: he needs a title and he needs to produce in the biggest way on the biggest stage in the playoffs and THAT is what I believe will push him into HOF consideration.But that's just my opinion.  

 

Sincerely,

 

RKB

 

If he was a Yankee, there would have been coverage... just my 2 cents.

    • DocBauer, caninatl04, HrbekRules and 1 other like this

 

If he was a Yankee, there would have been coverage... just my 2 cents.

If he was a Yankee they would've had a national watch party during his at bats. Cutting into other games' coverage so they could show you his 2000th hit. Or they just would've made the game nationally televised.

 

Also, thank god he never did become a Yankee. I would feel awful having to force myself to hate Joe. I mean I would've done it, but I wouldn't have liked it.

    • DocBauer likes this
Is 2000 hits really an accomplishment that typically gets national media coverage?

Until Joe got close, I'd never in my life heard 2000 hits even mentioned.
    • USAFChief, nicksaviking and ken like this
Photo
Brock Beauchamp
Apr 17 2018 03:14 PM

He should get in easily but Tom's point is probably the most salient: there are loads of guys who should already be in the Hall but are somehow still looking in (Edgar Martinez isn't in the Hall? What?!?!?!?).

 

Mauer's numbers are enough to get him there. His prime seasons put him in the top 10 of all catchers. He has three batting titles and is the only catcher on the planet who can claim that distinction. He has an MVP award.

 

Oh, and he was a damned good defensive catcher, to boot.

 

In my opinion, the greatest catcher of the past thirty years was Pudge. After that, it's Mauer with Piazza nipping at Joe's heels but ultimately, Mike gets dinged for being an absolute butcher behind the plate, which makes his 59 rWAR (just 5 more than Mauer) look slightly less impressive.

 

Posey might end up catching Mauer but he has some distance to go before he moves into second because, as we all know, things can go south on a catcher in a hurry.

Photo
AlwaysinModeration
Apr 17 2018 03:19 PM

I noticed the lack of this as well.

For example, Topps has their moments of the week:

1) The Mets five pitchers starting together and the team going 5-0.
2) Andrew McCutchen getting two walk-off hits
3) Scott Kingery having a 6 game hitting streak (Dozier has 11)
4) Gerrit Cole striking out 10 guys in three consecutive games
5) Bryce Harper hitting his 7th home run

Joe couldn't even make that list, especially over Kingery, which I thought was pretty lame.


Who or what is a Scott Kingery?
Three thoughts:
1. If he gets, say, 180 hits a year for four more years, and at least one well-deserved Golden Glove, those would help.
2. Unfortunately, post-season success (as opposed to mere appearances) has a weight as it increases national exposure. Perhaps his next contract will be with a quant based (that is, one that values OBP) perpetual playoff team.
3. How does he compare with Gary "Worst Perm Ever" Carter?

My best guess? Maybe a third ballot.

 

I noticed the lack of this as well.

 

For example, Topps has their moments of the week:

 

1) The Mets five pitchers starting together and the team going 5-0.

2) Andrew McCutchen getting two walk-off hits

3) Scott Kingery having a 6 game hitting streak (Dozier has 11)

4) Gerrit Cole striking out 10 guys in three consecutive games

5) Bryce Harper hitting his 7th home run

 

Joe couldn't even make that list, especially over Kingery, which I thought was pretty lame. 

 

Well, the slow burn to 2000 is not that much of a highlight. 3000 is, gets the fame and notice, and rightfully so. He is only 1000 away. Plus, it started with a single and ended with a single. Also, not really very highlighty. Still, one would think it would make the list. 

    • USAFChief likes this

Three thoughts:
1. If he gets, say, 180 hits a year for four more years, and at least one well-deserved Golden Glove, those would help.
2. Unfortunately, post-season success (as opposed to mere appearances) has a weight as it increases national exposure. Perhaps his next contract will be with a quant based (that is, one that values OBP) perpetual playoff team.
3. How does he compare with Gary "Worst Perm Ever" Carter?

My best guess? Maybe a third ballot.


He's only gotten 180+ hits twice in his career, the last time being 9 years ago.
    • Mike Sixel likes this

No. I know this is a Twins site and therefore we have a bias towards Mauer.But right now I see him in the hall of very good.His catcher years - required another 2 - 3 to out weigh his 1B years,As a first baseman he has nothing that would further the HOF narrative. 2000 hits is not enough.There are 283 players with 2000 hits.  

​Gold gloves at two positions - only two Darin Erstad and Placido Palanco - neither will be in the HOF. 

 

I like Joe Mauer, I also like a small hall.If Joe makes it I will not lead a protest march, but if he doesn't I will not be upset either.In my mind it is about the next four years - does joe go over 2500 hits, does he get gold gloves and most important does he hold his OBP up to be one of the best ever.  Right now his 392 is tied with - the Great Honus Wagner and Joe Morgan, but also George Grantham, Tip O'Neill, Jack Fournier, and Roger Connor.That is not enough without a lot of other contributions.  

 

I do believe that without the concussion he would be HOF, I also believe with a better knee Tony Oliva would be too.But seldom do players get an injury boost. 

 

Right now his OPS+ is behind Mark Trumbo and 808 others. 

    • h2oface likes this
Photo
Brock Beauchamp
Apr 17 2018 06:15 PM

 

No. I know this is a Twins site and therefore we have a bias towards Mauer.But right now I see him in the hall of very good.His catcher years - required another 2 - 3 to out weigh his 1B years,As a first baseman he has nothing that would further the HOF narrative. 2000 hits is not enough.There are 283 players with 2000 hits.  

​Gold gloves at two positions - only two Darin Erstad and Placido Palanco - neither will be in the HOF. 

 

I like Joe Mauer, I also like a small hall.If Joe makes it I will not lead a protest march, but if he doesn't I will not be upset either.In my mind it is about the next four years - does joe go over 2500 hits, does he get gold gloves and most important does he hold his OBP up to be one of the best ever.  Right now his 392 is tied with - the Great Honus Wagner and Joe Morgan, but also George Grantham, Tip O'Neill, Jack Fournier, and Roger Connor.That is not enough without a lot of other contributions.  

 

I do believe that without the concussion he would be HOF, I also believe with a better knee Tony Oliva would be too.But seldom do players get an injury boost. 

 

Right now his OPS+ is behind Mark Trumbo and 808 others. 

I see your point - I don't like a lot of the stats you're using but I see your point - but if you're going with old (or counting) stats, it's kinda egregious to leave out "three time batting champion", a title literally no other catcher in the 120+ years of Major League Baseball can claim.

 

Joe isn't a Hall of Very Good player. He's a Hall of Fame player who might not make the hall because he took a baseball to the noggin. His prime was so outstanding that I just don't get how so many Twins fans overlook it.

 

I have no issue with anyone saying he probably shouldn't make the Hall, but I'm kinda weary of seeing Twins fans downplay the greatness they witnessed from 2005-2013.

    • bizaff likes this

 

I see your point - I don't like a lot of the stats you're using but I see your point - but if you're going with old (or counting) stats, it's kinda egregious to leave out "three time batting champion", a title literally no other catcher in the 120+ years of Major League Baseball can claim.

 

Joe isn't a Hall of Very Good player. He's a Hall of Fame player who might not make the hall because he took a baseball to the noggin. His prime was so outstanding that I just don't get how so many Twins fans overlook it.

 

I have no issue with anyone saying he probably shouldn't make the Hall, but I'm kinda weary of seeing Twins fans downplay the greatness they witnessed from 2005-2013.

This is not a question of how much I value him as a Twin, it is a question of whether he will make the HOF.  

 

Photo
TheLeviathan
Apr 17 2018 07:50 PM

I really think he's going to have to pad that hit total to have a chance.  

Photo
Brock Beauchamp
Apr 17 2018 08:01 PM

 

This is not a question of how much I value him as a Twin, it is a question of whether he will make the HOF.  

I didn't really mean to target you with that post, I just get frustrated how Minnesotans could watch such an amazing player and not appreciate him appropriately.

 

Joe Mauer was a legendary catcher for 5-6 seasons. He was a good catcher for 3-4 more. It's a shame that he doesn't get the credit he deserves.

    • diehardtwinsfan, Twins33 and mikelink45 like this
Photo
ashburyjohn
Apr 18 2018 08:48 AM

Is 2000 hits really an accomplishment that typically gets national media coverage?

Until Joe got close, I'd never in my life heard 2000 hits even mentioned.

I think you are right. Unless I missed someone, the previous three guys to pass 2000 were (in some order) Brandon Phillips, Victor Martinez, and Nick Markakis. That latter one completely surprised me, but he's been durable. In none of these cases do I recall ticker-tape parades after the fact, to say nothing of being scheduled days in advance. :)

 

However, "gets" is not the same as "should get". There needs to be some common sense involving position. Out of 287 players to amass 2000 hits, only 10 have been primarily catchers. Joe Mauer reaching 2000 is a much bigger deal than these other guys doing it.

 

I didn't really mean to target you with that post, I just get frustrated how Minnesotans could watch such an amazing player and not appreciate him appropriately.

 

Joe Mauer was a legendary catcher for 5-6 seasons. He was a good catcher for 3-4 more. It's a shame that he doesn't get the credit he deserves.

Some of us don't consider him "amazing."Nor "legendary."

 

 

    • ken likes this
Photo
Brock Beauchamp
Apr 18 2018 10:19 AM

 

Some of us don't consider him "amazing."Nor "legendary."

I guess being one of the top ten catchers of all time for a decade isn't good enough for some people.

Photo
ashburyjohn
Apr 18 2018 10:25 AM

Some of us don't consider him "amazing."Nor "legendary."

Legend has it that catchers don't win batting titles. Weren't you at least a little amazed when he won three in four years?

Photo
Brock Beauchamp
Apr 18 2018 10:29 AM

 

Legend has it that catchers don't win batting titles. Weren't you at least a little amazed when he won three in four years?

Yeah... Look at this article written before the 2014 season.

 

https://www.cbssport...seball-history/

 

Mauer is first in batting average, first in OBP, and second in OPS on the catcher leaderboard. What more did the guy need to do to be considered amazing and/or legendary?

    • Twins33 likes this

 

He is a strong candidate, especially now that his concussion symptoms seem to be behind him and he is hitting like old Mauer.

I agree that Mauer is a strong candidate, but I was about to disagree that he was "hitting like old Mauer." Because he's not really hitting like "vintage" Mauer, of course -- but perhaps he is hitting like "vintage" Mauer aged to 35 years (as of tomorrow, happy early birthday, Joe!).

 

Mauer through age 30: 135 OPS+, 134 wRC+

Mauer age 34: 115 OPS+, 116 wRC+ 

 

Compared to:

Mauer age 31-33: 103 OPS+, 99 wRC+ 

 

Obviously off to a hot start this year, but it seems primarily walk and BABIP driven. I expect he will settle into a batting line like 2017.

 

I don't know if it's the concussion symptoms clearing or what, but he seems to be back on a more graceful aging curve in 2017 and so far in 2018.

    • diehardtwinsfan likes this

 

I noticed the lack of this as well.

 

For example, Topps has their moments of the week:

 

1) The Mets five pitchers starting together and the team going 5-0.

2) Andrew McCutchen getting two walk-off hits

3) Scott Kingery having a 6 game hitting streak (Dozier has 11)

4) Gerrit Cole striking out 10 guys in three consecutive games

5) Bryce Harper hitting his 7th home run

 

Joe couldn't even make that list, especially over Kingery, which I thought was pretty lame. 

FWIW, it seems like Joe (and Dozier) only played like 2 games during the week, which makes it a little hard to highlight their accomplishments during said week. :)

 

I guess being one of the top ten catchers of all time for a decade isn't good enough for some people.

I get your point, Brock, but the wording brought a chuckle.

 

:)

    • Brock Beauchamp, ashburyjohn and nicksaviking like this
Photo
ashburyjohn
Apr 18 2018 11:09 AM

I get your point, Brock, but the wording brought a chuckle.

 

:)

This post is the finest one I've read all day, until I come to a few more. :)

 

/ Cue Chief's response: wish I could say the same for yours

    • USAFChief likes this
Photo
Brock Beauchamp
Apr 18 2018 11:25 AM

 

I get your point, Brock, but the wording brought a chuckle.

 

:)

Yeah... that was a really awkward way to put it.

    • ashburyjohn, USAFChief and nicksaviking like this

Similar Articles


by Tom Froemming , 18 May 2018
Photo


by Tom Froemming , 13 May 2018
Photo


by Tom Froemming , 05 May 2018
Photo


by Jamie Cameron , 03 May 2018
Photo


by Tom Froemming , 01 May 2018
Photo