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Mackey: Mentioning Mauer with Puckett... Sacrilege?

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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 11:28 PM

http://www.1500espn....acrilege_021914

This article is worth reading, all the way through. Phil Mackey brought up the topic of Joe Mauer being better than Kirby Puckett on his show on 1500espn radio today. The comment was met with a lot of outrage and disagreement from listeners.

I tend to agree with Mackey. I don't know if I can put Mauer quite ahead of Puckett yet, and most likely for sentimental reasons, but Mauer is absolutely in the discussion.

Here is how I would rank the Top Minnesota Twins players in their 50+ years in Minnesota.

Killebrew, Carew, Puckett, Mauer, Oliva, Hrbek..

What are your thoughts?

#2 jimv2

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 01:41 AM

Pretty much agree. Only argument might be Oliva. WHen he came up, he was the Buxton of his age. Ceiling was Willie Mays. And when you watched him the first few years, he was the real deal. Then he got hurt. Badly. He was still an all-star, but not the same player. And eventually he just had to give it up. So how do you rank a guy like that? If we look at what he accomplished his first few years, he'd be at the top of my list. If you look at how he averaged out over time because of the injury, I'd put him where you did--or maybe ahead of Mauer, with the understanding that Mauer is still active and may end up being rated higher.

You can make a little bit of the same argument for Puckett, but Puckett got to play many more years healthy than Oliva did, and when he was hurt, he was done immediately. Had he played a long time, he too could have had arguments for being first on the list, but given where he ended up, I'd put him where you did.

#3 TheBigGuy7273

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 02:48 AM

Killebrew, Carew, Puckett, Mauer, Oliva, Hrbek..

I personally think Kirby is #1, I'm fairly young, and I caught Kirby in the second half of his career, I remember a little bit of the '91 Series, and I may be a little bais, because I didn't see the first two play, but Kirby was the best player on the '91 team and top 2 or 3 on the '87 team, two championships, and plaed a major role in both, and all due respect to Carew, and Killebrew, Kirby played a premium defensive position, and played it very well. And yes Mauer is in the conversation, but those top three still have the upper hand. I like Mauer a bunch, and think he is probably headed for a career year in mutiple offensive catagories, but let's et the man continue to be great and reexmine this a couple years from now.

#4 old nurse

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 03:15 AM

Injuries and illness have robbed many players for the Twins from a career they could have had.
Morneau got the concussion and was never the same. You couldn't say it was going to last a whole career, but if it had there would be a 3 way conversation about the third best all time Twin. Lyman Bostock was developed by the Twins. Not an illness, but he was in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Santana and the shoulder. Plenty of players who spent a significant portion of the careers as a Twin had their careers derail.
Bert go anywhere on your list?
Killebrew and Carewshould be at the top. If or when Mauer has a career of 15 years plus at the top of the game he can be considered for best of all time.
Puckett versus Mauer. I don't think it is time yet to judge Mauer

Edited by old nurse, 20 February 2014 - 03:22 AM.


#5 Marta Shearing

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 05:37 AM

Listening to Mackey today was dusturbing, but he somewhat redeemed himself with that article. Puckett IS a legend. His postseason resume alone puts him above Mauer.

People defend Mauer's postseason resume because he got screwed by Phil Cuzzi. One play. And it had nothing to do with the outcome of the game. The Twins loaded the bases that inning with nobody out and still managed not to score. Puckett was an iron man. Mauer is made of glass. And there's $23 million reasons why people expect more out of him than he's currently giving.

1. Killer
2. Carew
3. Puck
4, Oliva
5. Mauer

Hrbek's nowhere near the top for me because he ate himself out of the league and wasted a very special talent.

Edited by Marta Shearing, 20 February 2014 - 05:42 AM.


#6 Thrylos

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 06:29 AM

I think that ranking an active player in a list of retired players or comparing his career to that of retired players is a bit premature. Mackey's point had a lot to do with perceptions about being a leader and a clubhouse presence. Also, if you are the best player in a team that has won 2 World Series you will be perceived better than if you are the best player in a team that should have done it but was not good enough to do it (regardless whether it was Mauer's fault, and it was not.) You cannot forget '87 and '91...

As far as the retired players' career rankings go, if you count Carew's seasons away from the Twins he has to be on top.
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#7 D. Hocking

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 06:37 AM

I would probably say Kirby (largely due to the world series). However, I don't think the comparison deserved the outrage or is as crazy as a lot of the critics think. I think Kirby benefits from the passage of time and nostalgia from those World Series victories. That coupled with the premature abrupt end of his career and his early death lead people to mainly remember his highlights and create a legendary image compared to someone who they can still watch everyday and criticize every mistake in real time (and now with today's social media analyze to the extreme).

I also think some of Mauer's critics just cannot get past the contract. It is a factor of what should be expected, but some people use that to the extreme have some unrealistic expectations of what he should be producing. Anything less than 2009 is a failure.

It will be interesting to see what the comparison will be 20 years from now when some of the people debating the question were kids growing up watching Mauer play and Kirby was more of a historical figure. I think we tend to elevate players who we were excited to watch as kids.

Edited by D. Hocking, 20 February 2014 - 07:00 AM.


#8 big dog

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 07:10 AM

Listening to Mackey today was dusturbing, but he somewhat redeemed himself with that article. Puckett IS a legend. His postseason resume alone puts him above Mauer.

People defend Mauer's postseason resume because he got screwed by Phil Cuzzi. One play. And it had nothing to do with the outcome of the game. The Twins loaded the bases that inning with nobody out and still managed not to score. Puckett was an iron man. Mauer is made of glass. And there's $23 million reasons why people expect more out of him than he's currently giving.

1. Killer
2. Carew
3. Puck
4, Oliva
5. Mauer

Hrbek's nowhere near the top for me because he ate himself out of the league and wasted a very special talent.


I agree with the top three several of you have listed- the Killer, Carew, and Puck. Oliva just didn't have enough top years to get close. Hrbek was a very good player who could have been a truly great player. Mauer just needs more time but should end up somewhere in that top group.

The contract is irrelevant to me. Even if someone wants to include contract considerations, Puckett had one of the top contracts in the game once he got to free agency (I believe he had the highest salary in baseball for just a few days, but was in the top group for a while).

#9 mike wants wins

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 08:31 AM

Mauer is one of the best catchers in the history of the game. If he's good as a 1B for the next 5 years, he's a lock for the HoF. I find it baffling that people would be "outraged" by this comparison. Frankly, Mauer is better at the on field stuff than Puckett. He's not the personality or obvious leader, but he's better.

Killebrew
Mauer
Blyleven
Carew
Puckett
Lighten up Francis....

#10 CRArko

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 08:45 AM

This is a pivotal year for Mauer; the position change will give him an opportunity to put up Carew type numbers. If he does this, or even close, there shouldn't be any question again.

I hope to still be around in a decade to hear who Buxton and Sano are compared to.

#11 Beemo

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 09:00 AM

Post-season heroics are enough for most people to say Puckett easily tops Mauer. But he was a cold starter in playoffs series. If the rest of his team had performed in the post-season like Mauer's Twins did I think Puckett is looked at differently.

In games 1 through 4 of all his playoff series, Puckett hit .227/.278/.424 with 1 HR and 7 RBI. Over games 5 through 7, he hit .457/.500/.714. Mauer never got a chance to hit in games 5 through 7.

#12 thetank

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 09:01 AM

I think that ranking an active player in a list of retired players or comparing his career to that of retired players is a bit premature. Mackey's point had a lot to do with perceptions about being a leader and a clubhouse presence. Also, if you are the best player in a team that has won 2 World Series you will be perceived better than if you are the best player in a team that should have done it but was not good enough to do it (regardless whether it was Mauer's fault, and it was not.) You cannot forget '87 and '91...

As far as the retired players' career rankings go, if you count Carew's seasons away from the Twins he has to be on top.

Carew's record with the Angels wasn't that impressive. Didn't drive in many or score many with few extra base hits especially the last 5 years. Missed many games.

#13 Willihammer

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 10:42 AM

Puckett hit the home run in Game 6 because he was an awesome baseball player, not because of brash vocal statements.


It also helped that he was facing Charlie Leibrandt.

#14 SpiritofVodkaDave

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 11:08 AM

Killebrew, Carew, Mauer, Puckett, Olivia, Santana, Bleyleven, Hrbek

Puckett is my all time favorite player ever, however IMO Mauer has already surpassed him.
Mauer is already one of the best 3 or 4 catchers of all time, Puckett was/is a definite hall of famer, but not even close to one of the best CF of all time.

Mauer plays a harder position, and significantly beats Puckett in Avg, OBP, OPS, OPS+. Mauer has 3 batting titles vs Puckett's 1. 1 MVP (should have been 2) vs 0. Puckett has the advantage in All Star games and home runs. At this point I think Mauer has proven to be a better player then Puckett in his 9(ish) years.

Assuming Mauer has another 3-4 great years hitting wise followed by 2-3 good years, I think he surpasses Carew as well and becomes the 2nd greatest player in Franchise History.
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#15 gunnarthor

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 11:19 AM

I think this is probably right - Carew, Killer, Puck/Mauer, Oliva, Blyleven, Santana, Radke, Hrbek, Knoblauch or Alison.

That said, if you were growing up in MN in the 80s, no one is better than Puck. Still my favorite player.

#16 cmathewson

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 11:46 AM

Mauer is one of the best catchers in the history of the game. If he's good as a 1B for the next 5 years, he's a lock for the HoF. I find it baffling that people would be "outraged" by this comparison. Frankly, Mauer is better at the on field stuff than Puckett. He's not the personality or obvious leader, but he's better.

Killebrew
Mauer
Blyleven
Carew
Puckett


That"s how I would rank it. Puck was great. And he was my favorite player since Carew. But Mauer is better right now. And I think it won't even be a discussion in five years.
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#17 Seth Stohs

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 11:53 AM

Post-season heroics are enough for most people to say Puckett easily tops Mauer. But he was a cold starter in playoffs series. If the rest of his team had performed in the post-season like Mauer's Twins did I think Puckett is looked at differently.

In games 1 through 4 of all his playoff series, Puckett hit .227/.278/.424 with 1 HR and 7 RBI. Over games 5 through 7, he hit .457/.500/.714. Mauer never got a chance to hit in games 5 through 7.



And if Mauer's "double" would have been correctly called fair in Yankees Stadium, who knows where things would have gone!

#18 josecordoba

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 11:55 AM

Mauer is the better player. I loved Kirby! I was at Cooperstown for his HOF INduction and at the Metrodome for his funeral. The arguments for Mauer are objective where as the arguments for Puckett are subjective.

1. Puckett was tougher- Puckett also wasn't a Catcher.

2. Puckett was a better leader- This might be true (I've never been in the Twins Clubhouse), yet you do have to wonder how much this narrative shifts if not for Kent Hrbek's Grand-Slam in 87 or the Lonnie Smith baserunning gaffe in 1991.

3. Puckett has more power- This is also true, but it ignores that Mauer has a 45 point edge in OBP. The ratio of value is something like 1.8 points of slugging percentage are equal to 1 point of OBP.

4. Mauer's Contract- Complaining about this is the height of foolishness. People are complaining about the Twins resigning a
A. Hometown Kid
B. Three Time Batting Champ
C. Player with a Hall of Fame Trajectory.

If people honestly believe Joe Mauer shouldn't be resigned considering these factors, they probably should just as well of supported the contraction of the Franchise.

Mackey's writing is such that he seems to view the Pro-Puckett arguments as ulitmately weak, but doesn't want to have to defend Mauer too hard.

#19 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 12:07 PM

Seems like there's about 37 different questions being asked and answered here: who is the better player? Who is the most valuable player? Who was best leader? who is the most skilled player? and so on.

In terms of pure physical gifts, Puckett or Killebrew can't possibly be considered among the top 10 Twins, but Mauer is definitely in the top 3.

In terms of the value/leadership he has provided to his team in making a run at a championship or whatever, Puckett and Killer are probably 1 and 2, and Mauer might not make my top 10 list. Not knocking him, but team wise, aside from 2006, he just hasn't been a part of anything special.

There you go - another guys opinion :)

#20 Longdistancetwins

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 12:23 PM

Seems like there's about 37 different questions being asked and answered here: who is the better player? Who is the most valuable player? Who was best leader? who is the most skilled player? and so on.

In terms of pure physical gifts, Puckett or Killebrew can't possibly be considered among the top 10 Twins, but Mauer is definitely in the top 3.

In terms of the value/leadership he has provided to his team in making a run at a championship or whatever, Puckett and Killer are probably 1 and 2, and Mauer might not make my top 10 list. Not knocking him, but team wise, aside from 2006, he just hasn't been a part of anything special.

There you go - another guys opinion :)


A gal's opinion agrees fully with all of this. I'd just add that if you judge Carew on the leadership aspect, he might not make my top 10, either.

#21 BHtwins

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 12:33 PM

Mauer's best 5 season are all above 140 in OPS+. Puckett had 2.

My vote is Killibrew, Carew, Mauer, Puckett and that wouldnt change if Mauer retired tomorrow.

Be nice if Mauer had the word series heroics but that isnt really his fault.

Mauer is the Craig Biggio of the Twins....no respect...no respect..

#22 notoriousgod71

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 01:07 PM

It's funny because they are almost complete opposites in every way.

Puckett was engaging, affable, and vocal. Mauer is bland, subdued, and introverted.

Puckett was not very sabermetric-friendly due to his lack of walks. Mauer's best attribute is his OBP.

Puckett is regarded as one of the most clutch players of all-time. Mauer doesn't have a signature moment.

Puckett has two world championships. Mauer has zero postseason wins.

#23 cmathewson

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 01:09 PM

Seems like there's about 37 different questions being asked and answered here: who is the better player? Who is the most valuable player? Who was best leader? who is the most skilled player? and so on.

In terms of pure physical gifts, Puckett or Killebrew can't possibly be considered among the top 10 Twins, but Mauer is definitely in the top 3.

In terms of the value/leadership he has provided to his team in making a run at a championship or whatever, Puckett and Killer are probably 1 and 2, and Mauer might not make my top 10 list. Not knocking him, but team wise, aside from 2006, he just hasn't been a part of anything special.

There you go - another guys opinion :)


Wow. That is insane. Yeah, he isn't a rah rah guy. But nobody works harder. Nobody leads by example better, both on and off the field. As the catcher, he was the quarterback on the field for several playoff teams. He has led teams with vastly different pitching staffs to the playoffs, where they ran into some pretty good Yankee teams. Does that mean he was a sub-par leader? C-mon!

Off the field, he brought Morneau under his wing (as a room mate) and got him cleaned up. He had to kick him out when Morney brought his future wife home one night. Joe married his high-school best friend (couldn't even call her a sweetheart because that would be scandalous!). And they conceived Twins on their honeymoon. Since then, he's been a model husband and father. He doesn't get awards for his charitable work because it is secret. He doesn't believe in self promotion of any kind, least of all on his charitable work.

Yeah, Puck put his team on his back a couple of times. And he was a rah rah guy on the field. But, as Reusse has written, he was no saint. Life of the party? Sure. Binge drinking? You betcha. He and Gladden were legendary. Affairs? He was a hound. Had a 15-year affair with his limo driver. All this came out at the divorce proceedings, which documented his regular liaisons on the road. And then their was the assault. But let's not drag his character through the mud because he was a great leader on the field.

Killer was a saint. Puck put on the saint persona, which was a lie.
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#24 Guest_USAFChief_*

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 01:11 PM

One opinion: Mauer might be a better baseball player than Puckett, but I'd rather pay to watch Puckett play baseball than Mauer.

#25 cmathewson

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 01:32 PM

One opinion: Mauer might be a better baseball player than Puckett, but I'd rather pay to watch Puckett play baseball than Mauer.


Baseball was more fun when hackers like Puck were celebrated. But my sensibilities have changed. I used to hate watching Carew hit. Strike, strike, foul, ball, foul, ball, foul, foul, foul, ball, foul, looping single to left. By comparison, Puck took a hack at anything close. Kind of like a right-handed Tony O. Mauer is much more in the Carew line.

Thing is, guys who hit like Carew are proven to help their team win more than guys who hit like Puckett. At least that's what these fancy math guys are saying. So, I've developed an appreciation for watching Mauer hit. And I can say it is much more enjoyable than watching Puck hack at an outside slider on the first pitch and roll over to short.

Also, I like watching catchers. Center field is easier to grasp. Catching is more nuanced. All things considered, I prefer watching Mauer.
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#26 mike wants wins

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 01:50 PM

So it is Mauer's fault the rest of the team wasn't as good as the team's Puckett was on? I have never understood that at all, in terms of "value".

If you could start a team, right now, and you had to choose between Mauer and Puckett, who would you choose (assuming you get their career as an individual)? The clear answer is Mauer, imo. That's how you assess value, not how the rest of the team was.
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#27 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 02:28 PM

Wow. That is insane. Yeah, he isn't a rah rah guy. But nobody works harder. Nobody leads by example better, both on and off the field. As the catcher, he was the quarterback on the field for several playoff teams. He has led teams with vastly different pitching staffs to the playoffs, where they ran into some pretty good Yankee teams. Does that mean he was a sub-par leader? C-mon!

Off the field, he brought Morneau under his wing (as a room mate) and got him cleaned up. He had to kick him out when Morney brought his future wife home one night. Joe married his high-school best friend (couldn't even call her a sweetheart because that would be scandalous!). And they conceived Twins on their honeymoon. Since then, he's been a model husband and father. He doesn't get awards for his charitable work because it is secret. He doesn't believe in self promotion of any kind, least of all on his charitable work.

Yeah, Puck put his team on his back a couple of times. And he was a rah rah guy on the field. But, as Reusse has written, he was no saint. Life of the party? Sure. Binge drinking? You betcha. He and Gladden were legendary. Affairs? He was a hound. Had a 15-year affair with his limo driver. All this came out at the divorce proceedings, which documented his regular liaisons on the road. And then their was the assault. But let's not drag his character through the mud because he was a great leader on the field.

Killer was a saint. Puck put on the saint persona, which was a lie.


Hey.. didn't mean to touch a nerve. I can't judge Puck and wasn't thinking in terms of off-field stuff. I am a huge Mauer fan. (And I can now add Mauer to the list all-time best roommates)

I'm not sure exactly what about my opinion was "insane"..

Mauer's teams have done nothing to validate his great numbers. The pennant races are tons of fun, they are why baseball is worth caring about, but the playoff flameouts kind of throw cold water on all the work that came before it, don't you think? I have a real hard time just telling myself "the Twins have zero playoff wins - them's the breaks!" The Yankees were a downright mediocre playoff team those years.

Anyway, I think Mauer would be the first to tell you that statistics and awards mean very little unless they contribute to some sort of championship run (I will include 2006 just because that was so special). This is an era of 33% participation in the playoffs so anything can happen, I expect the Mauer story is not yet complete.

#28 Marta Shearing

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 02:33 PM

And if Mauer's "double" would have been correctly called fair in Yankees Stadium, who knows where things would have gone!

You guys gotta stop going with this one. After the blown call, Mauer still ended up getting on, as well as the next two hitters. Bases loaded, nobody out, and they still didnt score. In nine playoff games he's had one extra base hit and one rbi. Legends are made in the playoffs. Thats why Puckett is a legend, and Mauer isn't.....yet. And to say Puckett wouldnt have had the opportunity to be a playoff hero if not for everything around him falling into place is preposterous.

Edited by Marta Shearing, 20 February 2014 - 02:45 PM.


#29 cmathewson

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 02:48 PM

Hey.. didn't mean to touch a nerve. I can't judge Puck and wasn't thinking in terms of off-field stuff. I am a huge Mauer fan. (And I can now add Mauer to the list all-time best roommates)

I'm not sure exactly what about my opinion was "insane"..

Mauer's teams have done nothing to validate his great numbers. The pennant races are tons of fun, they are why baseball is worth caring about, but the playoff flameouts kind of throw cold water on all the work that came before it, don't you think? I have a real hard time just telling myself "the Twins have zero playoff wins - them's the breaks!" The Yankees were a downright mediocre playoff team those years.

Anyway, I think Mauer would be the first to tell you that statistics and awards mean very little unless they contribute to some sort of championship run (I will include 2006 just because that was so special). This is an era of 33% participation in the playoffs so anything can happen, I expect the Mauer story is not yet complete.


Sorry, insane is a bit harsh. It just irks me when people say he is not a great leader. He is a quiet and effective leader. My brother was the captain of the hockey team when I was a freshman. Quietest guy in the dressing room. First guy on the ice, last guy to leave. Won every killer. He was the best leader I have ever known. Everybody respected him and looked up to him because he worked harder than everybody else on that dressing room. When he talked, everybody shut up and listened. To me, that's the kind of leader Mauer is.

The fact that it hasn't led to a championship or a "signature moment" really isn't about Mauer's leadership. It's about the pitchers we had on the team. Santana was typically out of gas by playoff time. Ditto for Radke. We did not have a Frank Viola, Bert Blyleven, or Jack Morris on those teams. That's the difference.

In '87, Kirby was a non-entity throughout the playoffs (.583) and turned it up a bit in the Series (.884). He mostly just rode the wave. In '91, he had a great playoff series (1.197) and a decent, but not great World Series. Then he did two amazing things, and all of a sudden, he's the best leader this town has ever seen? I was at that game. To this day it's the third best day of my life (after my wedding night and the birth of my son). But it was just one game. Take that game away from Puck and what do you have? You have a very good player who was flawed like the rest of us.

Joe had a tough series against Oakland in 2006, a very good series against NY in 2009, and a tough series against NY in 2010. But nothing he did was going to change the outcome because he didn't have the pitching staff to beat teams in the playoffs. He can hardly be blaed for that. But I sure hope he does one day.
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#30 Willihammer

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 02:56 PM

Facing CC Sabathia in game 1 all the times... CC is one of the few guys around to have owned Mauer (.465 career OPS).

Come to think of it, Pettitte has owned him pretty hard too (career .681 OPS).

Goes to show how much this team's luck has hinged on one guy.