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Mauer's Move: The Twins & It's Impact Concerning The Hall of Fame

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And just when you think you may never read another news story about a professional athlete that isn't narcissistic in nature, thereís Joe Mauer's move to first base. In a word: selfless.
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Some might argue it's not that selfless, as it's in the best interest of his health. Which it could be, but first basemen arenít any more immune to concussions than any other position as his close friend, Justin Morneau, a first baseman, experience a career changed concussion. It can put Mauer, theoretically, more out of harmís way and thus, maybe prolong his career and a better shot at the Hall of Fame. Well, again, as Twins fans weíve seen that a shortened career doesnít always mean they wonít make the HOF as Kirby Puckettís career was cut short, yet was a 1st ballot hall of famer.

So just how does Mauer's new position affect his chances of getting into HOF?

That is, he has a whole new level of competition. At first base, how likely is he to be able to Start All-Star games? Win Silver Slugger Awards? Win Gold Gloves? So letís examine those three areas.

All-Star Candidacy

The position is somewhat more competitive than Catcher has been, especially with the emergence of Chris Davis as a superstar.

Mauer's main competition per order of finish for the 2013 AL ballot is Davis, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, and Mike Napoli. I found it interesting that Edwin Click image for larger version. 

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Side note: How does MLB determine position eligibility? I'm not sure.

The the ballot comes out in Mid-April. In 2012, the All-Star voting began on April 20th and ran to June 28th.

I found two examples that seem to contradict each other.

Case #1 - The All-Star Ballot position is from the played the previous year. This would make sense for Edwin Encarnacion who was listed as a DH on the 2013 All-Star ballot after having played 82 games at DH last year while only having 68 at first base. His 2013 would have put him at 1B as he had played in 91 games with 50 appearances at 1B, 31 at DH, and 8 at 3B, respectively.

But then you have Martin Prado, who finished 7th as a NL 3rd baseman in the 2013 Voting. In 2012, he played 119 games at LF and only 25 at 3B. In 2013, by the time of the All-Star. In 2013, by the time of the All-Star break he had 91 appearances: 60 at 3B, 17 at 2B, 8 at LF, and 1 at SS.

Case #2 Ė opening Day position?
This would have worked for Prado, but Encarnacion would have been a 1B instead of a DH. Even if you take games through April 20th (as in 2012) Ė it would have put Encarnacion only at 1B, not DH.

To me, this is important for Mauerís All-Star candidacy. Maybe he'll even get "DH" distinction, if so, he could have a hold on the spot for years to come when Ortiz's career dawns.

Silver Slugger

I canít find any actual voting results to see how positions are broken down for this one.

The voting as described in a Jay Bruce Silver Slugger article by MLB.com goes as such:

Silver Sluggers, which are presented by Louisville Slugger, are awarded annually to the best offensive players at each position in each league. Voting was conducted by Major League managers and coaches, using batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage as key statistics. Voters could not include players from their own team on their ballots.

If those are the major three criteria, Mauer would rank pretty well when compared among 1B for the past five years:

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Size:  33.6 KB A lot of it will depend on the continued emergence (and production) of Chris Davis. If Davis slips into the 30 homer range and Mauer manages to hit around a .330/.410/.500 stat line he should be able to win a few more Silver Slugger awards.

Note: Position sort rankings came from ESPNís sort function. Edwin Encarnacion did show up using their 1B filter, as did Mark Trumbo, both of whom were DH distinctions on the 2013 AL All-Star ballot.

Gold Gloves

The last five years of gold glove winners have gone Eric Hosmer (2013), Mark Teixera (2009, 2010, 2012), and Adrian Gonzalez (2011).

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Mauer has 56 career games at first base, committing just four errors in 536 chances for a .993 fielding percentage. My feeling is that Mauer will be able to improve on those numbers as he will have time to fully focus his efforts on being a first baseman. It would not surprise me if he picked up 2-3 Gold Gloves at 1B if he's healthy in the next 5 years.

Updated 11-11-2013 at 02:20 PM by twinsfan34

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  1. Zephrin's Avatar
    Mauer's body of work at C is both long enough and impressive enough to get him into the HOF even if he doesn't play another game anywhere. Unquestionably the best catcher in the game for the past decade. Yadi may get himself into the HOF as well, but it will be primarily as a defender and team leader, as his lifetime numbers aren't even close to Mauer's offensively. Posey will almost certainly switch positions - probably even earlier than Mauer.

    For me, it is really just a question of where he ranks all-time as a catcher. I think there are only like 13 HOF catchers, and he should be in that class. Where he won't get now is into that upper echelon with Bench and Berra, or even the 2nd tier with Ivan. It hurts his legacy, and he knows it. "Selfless" might not be the word I would choose, but it is definitely a sacrifice from a legacy standpoint.
  2. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
    I am not a 'Joe Mauer is the savior' kind of guy, but I certainly respect him.

    This move looks to cover all bases. It more carefully protects him to continue to be a capable and available husband and father, and it increases the odds that he will be a productive member of the Twins for the life of his contract.

    Very difficult to find fault with this decision.
  3. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
    Good stuff here, puts my mind a bit at ease to see some stats in black and white.
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