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Rand: The Mauer versus Puckett comparison

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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 12:43 PM

The always provocative, always amusing, always lady-slaying Michael Rand from the Star Tribune followed up on the Mauer versus Puckett career comparisons started by Patrick Reusse. Here is Rand's take on his Star Tribune blog.

"You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time." -- Jim Bouton, "Ball Four"


#2 gunnarthor

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 01:43 PM

Mauer's probably the better value guy but, man, I loved Puck.

#3 TK10

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 02:07 PM

Puckett: 2

Mauer: 0

That is all.

#4 70charger

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 02:14 PM

Unbelievable how close they are in stats! Also, Mauer is clearly the better on-base guy, but Puck developed into a power hitter. I have hope that Mauer will pick up his HR rate, but no guarantees.

#5 Boom Boom

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 02:19 PM

I know I'll get ripped for saying this, but...

Kirby Puckett was an overrated player. He's a borderline HOFer who got in more on personality than performance.

I'd take Kirby on my team any day of the week, but when Rand breaks down statistics comparing Puckett to Mauer, it's really not about the statistics. It's about perception and popularity.

#6 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 02:35 PM

That comments section made me despair for the human race.

#7 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 02:37 PM

I know I'll get ripped for saying this, but...

Kirby Puckett was an overrated player. He's a borderline HOFer who got in more on personality than performance.


You shouldn't get ripped for that. We all love Puck but those of us who try to avoid looking through the baseball annals with rose-colored glasses generally think that Puckett was a little overrated. Great hitter, fantastic personality, Very Good Baseball Player. He had great moments but he was not a baseball great. He was basically Dale Murphy or Kenny Lofton with fewer ABs and a better PR agent. You don't exactly see people pounding down doors in Cooperstown to let those guys into the Hall of Fame.

#8 70charger

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 02:44 PM

That comments section made me despair for the human race.


Your fault for reading Strib comments... :P

#9 Winston Smith

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 02:46 PM

2 rings vs. zero playoff wins? Not much of a contest imo.

#10 Shane Wahl

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 03:27 PM

That comments section made me despair for the human race.


Oh my GOD I agree. That site's comments are getting close to YouTube's comments in terms of barbarity.

#11 James

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 03:28 PM

That comments section made me despair for the human race.

Made my head hurt as well. There was a lot of references to "stat guys" who "don't really understand the game". Ugh... makes my head hurt.

You can come up with statistics to prove anything. Forty percent of all people know that.


#12 LimestoneBaggy

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 03:40 PM

2 rings vs. zero playoff wins? Not much of a contest imo.


At the risk of getting destroyed (and I practically worshipped Kirby), Kirby had a better team around him.

#13 Steve Lein

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 04:08 PM

I know I'll get ripped for saying this, but...

Kirby Puckett was an overrated player. He's a borderline HOFer who got in more on personality than performance.


Ugh. I disagree with this so hard. (the only way I'd give you a pass for saying this is if you are on the lower end of your 20's or even younger than that, you just wouldn't know any better)

10 consecutive All Star appearances, top 7 in MVP voting 7 times, 6 Gold Gloves, 6 Silver Slugger Awards...

If his career hadn't got cut short, he'd have easily reached 3,000+ hits (keep in mind, only 28 players in baseball history have done that), and in fact would have been one of the quickest players ever to reach that mark, as he was the second fastest ever to 2,000 hits.

Sporting News named him one of the greatest 100 baseball players of all-time (#86, there are 207 players in the Hall of Fame)

He was signed to an at the time largest contract in MLB history in 1989.

He was the original Twins HR robbing CF.

His personality was the icing on the cake, not the other way around. I'm ashamed by this and feel your Twins fandom should be revoked. (his post career issues are another story, but not his on-field performance or impact on the game of baseball as a whole)

Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 40, Speed: 40. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but can sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)


#14 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 04:18 PM

If his career hadn't got cut short, he'd have easily reached 3,000+ hits (keep in mind, only 28 players in baseball history have done that), and in fact would have been one of the quickest players ever to reach that mark, as he was the second fastest ever to 2,000 hits.


Puckett would have had to play into his age 40 season at the same level as his age 33-35 seasons to get to 3,000 hits. If you're old enough to remember Puckett so vividly, you should also remember what he looked like as a 35 year old corner outfielder and realize just how unlikely that was to happen. 3,000 hits wasn't out of the question for the guy but it was a bit of a longshot. He certainly wouldn't have "easily" reached the mark.

#15 gunnarthor

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 04:25 PM

To add to Steve - Bill James listed him as the 7th best CFer ever. He was a clear HOF choice by fans, managers, stat heads and traditionalists. I always thought his induction was a good one by the sportswriters. It showed they didn't need a certain numerical benchmark.

#16 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 04:31 PM

To add to Steve - Bill James listed him as the 7th best CFer ever. He was a clear HOF choice by fans, managers, stat heads and traditionalists. I always thought his induction was a good one by the sportswriters. It showed they didn't need a certain numerical benchmark.


To be clear, I'm not against Puckett being in the HoF. I loved the guy as much as anyone. His 87 and 91 championships, his personality, his talent, and his untimely exit all contributed to his HoF career. I don't have a problem with that.

But from purely the numbers he put up on the field, he was not what I'd consider a "baseball great". James may have listed him as the 7th best CF ever but it's a pretty massive drop-off after Mays, Mantle, Cobb, Griffey, and DiMaggio. Puckett isn't even close to any of those guys (personally, I don't think he was even all that close to guys like Snider). Puckett's best comp might be Kenny Lofton. That doesn't exactly light the world on fire.

#17 Steve Lein

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 04:44 PM

Puckett would have had to play into his age 40 season at the same level as his age 33-35 seasons to get to 3,000 hits. If you're old enough to remember Puckett so vividly, you should also remember what he looked like as a 35 year old corner outfielder and realize just how unlikely that was to happen. 3,000 hits wasn't out of the question for the guy but it was a bit of a longshot. He certainly wouldn't have "easily" reached the mark.


Well let's do some math, he ended his career 696 hits short. In his age 33-35 seasons he hit .307. Say he regressed down to .300 after that, if he got the average amount of AB's each season after that based on those years (which is 533), he'd average 160 hits a season. 696/160 = 4.35 seasons. Considering he averaged 134 games played in those seasons (before that he never played less than 146 except his rookie season), I'd wager that's a conservative estimate. He was still a great hitter when his career was abruptly stopped, so yes, I'd say he easily got there considering players routinely played to age 40 and beyond in that era. Hell, Puckett was a better career hitter than Paul Molitor, and Molitor posted .330+ averages more often than not after age 35. By OPS, Puckett's age 35 season was his 5th best ever and trailed his top mark by only .026 points. He wasn't turning into some scrub as a hitter like you seem to be suggesting. Was he a great fielder anymore? No, but that wasn't affecting his batting.

Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 40, Speed: 40. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but can sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)


#18 Bark's Lounge

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 04:53 PM

Puckett would have had to average roughly 140 hits per season from 1996-2000 to reach 3,000, very doable as his lowest hit total for a season was the strike shortened 1994 (139 hits).

After Molitor retired, I bet Puckett would have been the full time DH in 1999 & 2000. The 1996-2000 season were very big offensively (PED's aside). I would not be shocked if Puckett would have hit 30 HR's a couple of more times to go with his 1986 season.

In 1996, Molitor and Knoblauch hit .340 plus - what kind of season could Puckett have had that year? It could have been a a career year for Puck.

Who knows - last I checked crystal balls don't exist. I will admit that if Puckett was first eligible for HOF candidacy in 2012, it would take him 2-3 years to get in. These days metrics have replaced memories and passion - maybe all together human emotion. Not that I am complaining, It was the reason Blyleven was inducted.

#19 Steve Lein

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 04:58 PM

Lofton began his MLB career at age 24, just like Puckett did, but unlike Puckett, he got to play until he was 40.

Lofton's career hit total? 2428. less than a season's worth of more hits than Puckett.

They aren't comparable players to me as hitters, Puckett was far more durable and routinely put up 200+ hit seasons (5/12) as a #3 hitter, Lofton did it once in his career (1/17) as a leadoff man.

Very poor comp, in my opinion.

Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 40, Speed: 40. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but can sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)


#20 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 05:10 PM

Lofton began his MLB career at age 24, just like Puckett did, but unlike Puckett, he got to play until he was 40.

Lofton's career hit total? 2428. less than a season's worth of more hits than Puckett.

They aren't comparable players to me as hitters, Puckett was far more durable and routinely put up 200+ hit seasons (5/12) as a #3 hitter, Lofton did it once in his career (1/17) as a leadoff man.

Very poor comp, in my opinion.


You're going to use hits as the sole indicator of a player's worth? I think it's pretty apparent I was comparing the entire player, not just his hitting style. Lofton had 70 more HR, 450 more BB, 20 less 2B, 500 (!) more stolen bases, and 50 more 3B than Puckett. The comp isn't 100% accurate but they were both centerfielders who were well above average during the peak of their careers (and had overlapping careers). Lofton just lasted a little longer than Puckett. Kenny spent the bulk of his career posting an OPS+ of around 10-15 points lower than Puckett and ended his career with an OPS+ 20 points lower, while Lofton posted a career 64.9 WAR against Puckett's 48.2.

They're not as different as you'd like to think. I believe Puckett was the better player (but not by much) and someone could make a damned good case that Kenny was the better overall player. I wouldn't buy it but the argument could easily be made.