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  • How Long Will Joe Mauer Wait for Cooperstown Plaque?


    Ted Schwerzler

    On Tuesday night, MLB Network ran multiple hours of coverage to unveil the 2023 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame class. Despite 14 new names added to the ballot for writers to select, the ballot was hardly clogged and we still saw only Scott Rolen join the Hall of Fame. What does it mean for Joe Mauer's candidacy?

     

    Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

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    Last year, some of the best baseball players ever (Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens) went unelected in their final year on the Hall of Fame ballot. As we know, they were heavily tied to steroids, and that is certainly the reason they are not in. However, the Hall of Fame is a museum and incomplete without acknowledging the sport’s history as a whole. We still don’t have Pete Rose or "Shoeless" Joe Jackson in, and there are plenty of others who have been left out over the years.

    One can argue whether they would like to see those linked to some form of cheating left out, but the reality is that there are far worse or more egregious offenders already inducted. What should be a cause for concern among Twins fans is the way in which the process played out this season.

    Coming into this voting cycle, only Carlos Beltran was among the first-time candidates that had any true level of Hall Hope. His support has waned in light of the scandal with the Houston Astros (although, again, that has nothing to do with his playing days), but his resume was always going to be borderline. That left only Scott Rolen and Todd Helton as potential inductees.

    With the ability to select up to ten players, there were plenty of BBWAA members that turned in blank ballots. Rather than abstain from voting at all, multiple writers went to the trouble of turning in an empty ballot to make every candidate’s chances worse. There were far more that used less than the ten total slots, and plenty that used less than five.

    Fast forward to 2024.

    The two Hall of Famers from next year’s ballot should be Adrian Beltre and Joe Mauer. It is generally believed that Beltre will make the ballot in his first year of eligibility. The problem is that Mauer is not seen in the same way.

    For years, it has seemed as though the Twins fanbase was hardest on Mauer. Whether because of a terribly-reported diagnosis of bilateral leg weakness, an inability to blast home runs, or a contract that paid him for previous performance, there have always been detractors here. It seems that nationally Mauer has been praised a bit more. He’s on par with a player like Buster Posey, and he could have challenged the likes of Mike Piazza or even Carlton Fisk without the brain injuries that altered the course of his career.

    Mauer’s resume speaks for itself. He’s won multiple batting titles and should have won a Gold Glove at first base following a position change (still mad at you Eric Hosmer). There doesn’t seem to be a concern that Mauer is NOT a Hall of Famer, but rather when he gets in.

     

    Therein lies the problem, a process that’s broken within the writers voting on behalf of the BBWAA.

    If Helton and Rolen were seen as the only two candidates close, and Beltre is only joined by Mauer next year, there is no reason both shouldn’t be in on the first ballot. To suggest that the quickness with which a player goes in holds weight is silly. A good portion of when a player is elected has to do with how tight the ballot itself is.

    There has not yet been enough support for Billy Wagner. Jeff Kent falls off after this season, and Gary Sheffield would need a massive jump in his final year. Despite being among the best ever to play the game, no one is voting for Alex Rodriguez.

    It’s only logical that if a writer believes that Joe Mauer is truly a Hall of Famer, and said writer has up to ten openings, he would be among them.

    For writers of the BBWAA to purposely leave Mauer off of a light ballot only to vote for him a year later would be grandstanding at its best. The sanctity of going in on the first ballot gets more weight than the merit of a player’s resume. It has been discussed before that changing the ballot to a simple yes/no scenario may make sense, but that exercise can be practiced in its current format given how few should truly be considered.

    On a night that MLB Network took up three hours of airtime to market the stars of yesteryear, the writers fell short in getting the necessary names in. Helton should get his due next season, but like Mauer, waiting doesn't make sense. Fast forwarding to the next cycle and knowing we’re in for another light group, it would be inexcusable to leave the Twins legend off for little more than posturing.

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    There is something sacrosanct about getting in on the first ballot for the BBWA members.  Not sure why, but they seem to want to reserve it for true no doubters.

    I think Joe will get into the HOF but not on the first ballot.  If his catching career would have continued, he would for sure have been a first ballot candidate.  Given his concussion issues and subsequent move to FB, his HOF credentials (i.e. numbers) have moved from the no brainer category to the good but not first ballot good.

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    This is Minnesota  where players don't get recognized  enough like east  and west coast teams for HOF voting ....

    Took years for killebrew , kaat , Oliva and blyleven to get elected  , carew and Puckett were first ballot inductees ...

    Mauer should get in but it will take some time  ...

    Hall of fame should speed the process up and not wait 5 years to be inducted because the writers all have short memories ...

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    In, but not on 1st ballot. I am a Mauer backer and it seems I have to only back him to my Mn fans! He will struggle a bit based on his tenure at first base, but should get in under 4 years is my prediction.

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    300+ batting average

    3 batting titles (only catcher to win any)

    1 MVP

    Single team, hometown bonuses

    Funny commercial

    Memorable moment (behind back catch off backstop)

    Concussion leniency

    Weak ballot, helped by Rolen getting in (was extremely close)

     

    In think there is a very strong chance he gets in on the first ballot.  He lucked out that Ichiro played one game his last year so isn’t on the ballot until 2025.  

     

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    11 hours ago, Ted Schwerzler said:

    Last year, some of the best baseball players ever (Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens) went unelected in their final year on the Hall of Fame ballot. As we know, they were heavily tied to steroids, and that is certainly the reason they are not in. However, the Hall of Fame is a museum and incomplete without acknowledging the sport’s history as a whole. We still don’t have Pete Rose or "Shoeless" Joe Jackson in, and there are plenty of others who have been left out over the years.

     

    The solution to this perceived dilemma seems obvious. The history surrounding these and other cheaters can be acknowledged by the museum without inducting them.

    And as long as I'm writing, stating that Bonds and Clemens were "tied to steroids" is not the way to approach the matter. They USED steroids, purposely and willingly breaking the rules, to give themselves an unfair advantage. No player who did that deserves the honor of HOF membership. IMHO, of course.

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    31 minutes ago, AlwaysinModeration said:

    300+ batting average

    3 batting titles (only catcher to win any)

    1 MVP

    Single team, hometown bonuses

    Funny commercial

    Memorable moment (behind back catch off backstop)

    Concussion leniency

    Weak ballot, helped by Rolen getting in (was extremely close)

     

    In think there is a very strong chance he gets in on the first ballot.  He lucked out that Ichiro played one game his last year so isn’t on the ballot until 2025.  

     

    Only AL catcher to win one, and he won 3.

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    The blank ballots do not bother me.  They said that they did not think any of the players on the list were truly hall worthy.  It is their right.  If it kept someone from getting elected it accomplished what they wanted.  

    No other sport has as much attention for the HOF.  I know nothing about Hockey and Soccer and seldom see anything written about them.  Football has a flood of players every year and the linemen wait while everyone is excited by the WR and QBs.  Basketball is the craziest.  Nice that they recognize the sport over the whole world, but our reporters only talk about the NBA players and there is a low bar for them to cross.

    But BB has a unique system that gets a lot of publicity because fans are mad, the writers have to decide how a player ranks all-time.  For me Rolen would have been my only choice too.  

    The badboys - Bonds, Clemens, Jackson, and Rose have gained my recognition by not being elected than they would if they had been put and in then we moved on.  Of course other badboys - McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro don't even get that pub since they have this foursome in front of the line.

    Mauer will get in and if it takes a few years that is fine.  I listened to the interview with Billy Wagner on MLB.com and enjoyed it.  He keeps waiting and has learned how to handle the situation.  

    I know that without injury there would be no question of his induction as a catcher.  But catcher is not a position that has a lot of inductees.  It is a hard position to judge.  But if they concentrate on his years behind the plate he is in.  

    What I do not understand is the flood of RP that have made it in.  Since Rollie Fingers there are more RP than any other position.  

    But in the long run, just as I could not make a one sentence response, MLB gets a lot of press from a system that creates both fanfare and frustration and that is to their advantage.  In the long run it does not matter. 

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    1 hour ago, CRF said:

    Mauer the catcher is HOF worthy. Mauer the 1st baseman isn't. Obviously, the injuries dictated that. He'll eventually get in, but not the first time. 

    Mauer the ML player is worthy. And if class counts for anything, he would have been inducted the day he hung up his cleats.

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    It really depends on how the writers view Joe's overall career.  Different players have got in over the years that no one doubted they deserved, but when you look at the overall numbers they are lower on the scale, but the retired due to health at top of game.  The two main that come to mind is Puckett, and Koufax.  Puckett and Mauer's numbers are darn close.  Both retired at 35, Puckett because he could no longer see, and Joe because he just did not want to continue, maybe some health, but was not forced.  Joe had 3 more years he played, but total games were very close. Joe had about 70 more over those 3 additional seasons. Puckett had the 2 WS and was loved by writers during his playing time. 

    Joe should be in hall based on what he did at catcher, and only moved off catcher due to health.  Had he played his full career there and put up same numbers, no way does he miss out, because everyone would talk about his batting champs.  What will hurt Joe is that he moved off catcher, to an offensive minded position, and was not top in the league at that time.  Really, his last 5 years of his career he was just above replacement level overall.  That will hurt him a ton.  

    So it will come down to how do the writers look at him and his career.  Do they take into account for a stretch he was the best hitting catcher overall, and was first to win batting titles at that position in AL?  Or, will they look at his last few years after concussions and other issues made him just above replacement level player, and that his team never, NEVER, won a playoff series, and barely even won a game.  He was not a beloved media guy hardly giving worth while interviews.  That should not matter, but when writers are doing the voting, that stuff does. 

    I actually doubt he makes it under the writers, but makes it in the era voting down the road. The reason I say this is, the writers bounced Johan very quickly, and he had just as good of a resume as Joe did. Johan numbers are almost identical to Koufax, Johan actually had higher career WAR.  Both careers were cut short due to injury, Johan tried to come back Koufax did not.  The main difference, is Koufax ended his career on a 5 year tear, and was the best pitcher over those 5 years, but if you look at his other 7 years he was not HOF.  He retired on the top of his game due to injury.  So that is what writers remember and assumed he would have continued doing what he did over those 5 years and would have got the numbers.  

    Sometimes it is how your career ended.  Had Joe's career ended due to health and never moved off catcher, he makes HOF, easy, because writers would have played the what if like Puckett and Koufax, but because he played out his contract and moved to 1B, that will work against him. 

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    7 minutes ago, Trov said:

    only moved off catcher due to health

    There are dozens and dozens of players who "coulda been" Hall of Famers if they had only stayed healthy.

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    Does Joe Maury belong in the HOF?

    I propose that the answer lies in the following statement:

    “No other player in the history of Major League Baseball has been able to accomplish what Joe Mauer did”. 

    This was not some statistical oddity like 4 triples on a Tuesday in June. Mauer won 3 batting titles while performing primarily as a catcher. Only one other player in history can make that claim regarding even one title. Catchers are unique. Analytics are not able give a clear understanding of wear and tear and how that, along with the demands of pitch calling and in game pitcher interaction impact the quality of offensive performance as well as length of career. Yadier Molina is clearly an outlier. 
    Mauer performed best offensively during his catching years, and did it while being acknowledged as an above average defensive performer (admittedly tough to quantify for the position). His less than stellar “bi-lateral leg weakness” years at first base and DH cast an unfortunate shadow on his career. He was not without value (see the current Louis Arraez high average/low power/good defense 1B debate), but the extended career was probably more a contract result than a preference of all parties. 

    In summary, I repeat:

    “No other player in the history of Major League Baseball has been able to accomplish what Joe Mauer did”. 

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    I think folks have made a lot of good points, but I still feel that the current voting system if flawed at best, and possibly broken from some view points.  I am totally ok with the BBWA having a big say in who gets in; but having the only vote is a travesty (IMHO).  Watching some of the coverage last night on the MLB network really left me (again) with the sense that the players themselves should have a big say in who gets in (in the first ballot.... I realize that the other committees have player input).

    This could take the form of prior selectees (players/coaches/GMs, etc.) to the Hall having a ballot (AKA something similar to former Heisman winners having a vote/ballot for who wins the Heisman each year).  The reason being is that I have a hard time taking some of the writers seriously because they have never played it competitively. 

     

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    I think Joe Mauer is 100% Hall-worthy and should go in on the first ballot. He probably won't, because there's an irritating number of writers (fortunately many of who are finally aging off as voters) who have this "thing" about the first-ballot and it's hard to get in as it is. It will sadly likely cost Mauer some votes. (along with the idiots who won't vote for anyone until they get to vote for Pete Rose or other nonsense).

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    So I looked at the top 10 catchers ranked by WAR and put the actual number of games caught by their name:

    Name Games Caught
    Johnny Bench 1742
    Gary Carter 2056
    Ivan Rodriguez 2427
    Carlton Fisk 2226
    Mike Piazza 1630
    Yogi Berra 1699
    Bill Dickey 1708
    Gabby Hartnett 1793
    Joe Mauer 921
    Ted Simmons 1771

    What you can see is that Joe caught significantly fewer games than any of the other top 10 catchers and actually played almost as many games (915) at 1B/DH/OF.  Looking at his baseball reference page he actually accumulated 10.5 WAR after his 2013 concussion when he was only a 1B/DH.  I feel you almost need to evaluate him half as a C and half as a 1B.  In my mind his comps at 1B are Will Clark and John Olerud.  Both are LH, low-powered guys with WARs better than Mauer's.  And both are not in the Hall of Fame.  When you look at Mauer as a true "tweener" instead of a classic catcher I don't think he makes it.  

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    This "fIrSt BaLlOtT" nonsense is just silly. You're either a Hall of Famer or you're not. But, I get it. Some players need longer consideration.  If only that were what's going on here. It's not though. BBWAA voters hold votes or vote for players at the expense of others just to keep players on the ballot because they're limited to the number of players that they can vote for. This is all common knowledge and discussed ad nauseau every year.

    Having said all that, are we certain Joe Mauer is a HOFer? His top comparison for his career, both by position and pathway, is Joe Torre. Who was not voted in the Hall based on his playing accolades, either.

     

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    If we're going start putting guys like Scott Rolen (a fine player) in the Hall of Fame, then no one should question Joe Mauer getting in. And he should be in on the 1st ballot. Either you're a HOFer or you're not.

    For that matter, Torii Hunter should be in, or at least should be better than 7% vote. Hunter has more hits, more homers, more RBI, more gold gloves, and more silver sluggers than Scott Rolen. The difference, one World Series Championship, is that the benchmark now? If so, Mauer is in trouble. 

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    5 minutes ago, Ryan Atkins said:

    If we're going start putting guys like Scott Rolen (a fine player) in the Hall of Fame, then no one should question Joe Mauer getting in. And he should be in on the 1st ballot. Either you're a HOFer or you're not.

    For that matter, Torii Hunter should be in, or at least should be better than 7% vote. Hunter has more hits, more homers, more RBI, more gold gloves, and more silver sluggers than Scott Rolen. The difference, one World Series Championship, is that the benchmark now? If so, Mauer is in trouble. 

    I have seen a lot of discussion regarding Torii Hunter.  There seems to be a belief that he won't get in by the BBWAA, but he will get voted in by the player's committee at some point in the future.  He is by no means a lock, he didn't have that torrid peak most HOFers but, but he was very, very good for an extended period of time.

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    10 hours ago, Blyleven2011 said:

    This is Minnesota  where players don't get recognized  enough like east  and west coast teams for HOF voting ....

    Took years for killebrew , kaat , Oliva and blyleven to get elected  , carew and Puckett were first ballot inductees ...

    Mauer should get in but it will take some time  ...

    Hall of fame should speed the process up and not wait 5 years to be inducted because the writers all have short memories ...

    I agree with this for all the reasons mentioned. How Harmon had to wait 4 years still boggles my mind. Oliva shouldn’t have had to wait until his 80s. Blyleven didn’t rack up the traditional stats save for strikeouts and it was at the dawn of the sabermetrics era that got him in.

    Something else that bugged me was Johan Santana not earning 5% on his one year. For a five year peak (2003-2007) there wasn’t a better starting pitcher in the game, he won two Cy Young’s and a pitcher’s triple crown, Sandy Koufax was dominant in a 5 year period and he’s a no doubter but Santana isn’t worthy of 5%?  And NO, I am not saying Santana was Koufax - just that if a five year period of greatness is enough for one, why not all?  Plus…I am sure if his peak years were with the Mets and his injury-plagued ones were with the Twins, he’s either in or very close.  

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    40 minutes ago, LanceJS said:

    I agree with this for all the reasons mentioned. How Harmon had to wait 4 years still boggles my mind. Oliva shouldn’t have had to wait until his 80s. Blyleven didn’t rack up the traditional stats save for strikeouts and it was at the dawn of the sabermetrics era that got him in.

    Something else that bugged me was Johan Santana not earning 5% on his one year. For a five year peak (2003-2007) there wasn’t a better starting pitcher in the game, he won two Cy Young’s and a pitcher’s triple crown, Sandy Koufax was dominant in a 5 year period and he’s a no doubter but Santana isn’t worthy of 5%?  And NO, I am not saying Santana was Koufax - just that if a five year period of greatness is enough for one, why not all?  Plus…I am sure if his peak years were with the Mets and his injury-plagued ones were with the Twins, he’s either in or very close.  

    Santana's 5 year stretch is up there with any 5year stretch by a pitcher in modern history.  Unfortunately his counting numbers were not strong.  Granted Drysdale pitched in the 4 man rotation era, but his counting numbers were considerably higher than Santana.

    Santana needed to pitch another 5 healthy successful years to get a good look.  I love him, but he will ultimately end up in the Hall of Very-Good.

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