Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Joe Mauer...Best Catcher Ever???

As the regular season winds down and most division races have been all but wrapped up, fans turn their attention to the Awards Races, especially the Cy Young and MVP. In the middle of the American League MVP race is Joe Mauer, the catcher for the Minnesota Twins. Currently, Mauer is hitting .373 with 28 HRs, 88 RBI, and 88 runs scored, his OBP is .442, his OPS is a ridiculous 1.050, and in my opinion he is the most deserving of the AL MVP candidates, a list that includes the likes of Texieria, Jeter, Cabrera, and Ichiro.

Mauer, a career .328 hitter with the sweetest swing in baseball, owns a career fielding percentage of .996 and his performance in recent years begs the question, is he destined to be the best catcher ever? Lets take a look at five other greats and see how Mauer stacks up.

1. Yogi Berra- 19 seasons with the Yankees & Mets, 3x MVP ('51, '54, 55), 15x All-Star, 2,150 hits, .285 AVG, 358 HR, .989 Fielding Percentage, Hall of Fame Class of 1972.

2. Carlton Fisk- 24 seasons with the Red Sox and White Sox, 1972 Rookie of the Year, 11x All-Star, 1972 Gold Glove, 2,356 hits, .269 AVG, 376 HR, .988 Fielding Percentage, Hall of Fame Class of 2000.

3. Johnny Bench- 17 seasons with the Reds, 1968 Rookie of the Year, 2x MVP ('70, '72), 14x All-Star, 10x Gold Glove, 2,048 Hits, .267 AVG, 389 HR, .990 Fielding Percentage, Hall of Fame Class of 1989.

4. Mike Piazza- 16 season with the Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Padres, A's, 1993 Rookie of the Year, 12x All-Star, 10x Silver Slugger, 2,127 Hits, .308 AVG, 427 HR, .989 Fielding Percentage.

5. Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez- in his 19th season, has played for Rangers, Marlins, Tigers, Yankees, and Astros, 14x All-Star, 13x Gold Glove, 7x Silver Slugger, 1999 AL MVP, 2,706 Hits, .299 AVG, 305 HR, .991 Fielding Percentage.

Joe Mauer-6 seasons with the Twins, 3x All-Star, 2x Silver Slugger, 2008 Gold Glove, 830 Hits, .328 AVG, 72 HR, .996 Fielding Percentage, Mauer has also won two batting titles and has all but locked up his third for this season.

Yes its true that Mauer's stats are taken from a small sample size, as he is in only his fifth full season, and I may be jumping the gun by anointing him as the greatest catcher ever. All of the players listed above played for at least 16 seasons in the bigs so we will have to check back in a few years when Mauer has had the time to further build up his credentials. I am also aware that I left a few catchers off of the list i.e. Carter, Munson, Campanella, and Torre. For now the debate rages on, if Mauer keeps winning batting titles and playing the best defense of all catchers in the game today, he just may find himself looking down at the competition when his time as a baseball player is up.

!!REMINDER!!! Don't forget to "Coin that Phrase".


GM-Carson said...

Mauer is having an amazing season, just imagine if he'd had been healthy from the get-go.

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TT said...

Uh - Mike Piazza is not one of the games great catchers. Catching is a defensive position and he was just barely adequate behind the plate. He was a great DH who played out of position in the National League.

But what happened to Roy Campanella, Micky Cochrane and Bill Dickey? Campanella was better than Berra while the two were playing.

I know your point is that Mauer may be in the same league as those guys. I agree. If he stays healthy, he is going to be on the list of the games great catchers.

GM-Carson said...

Mike Piazza was such an offensive force for so long that it greatly outweighed his defensive shortcomings. Also, for the first 5-8 years of Piazza's career, he was decent behind the plate and always did a good job blocking balls and calling a good game.

Politicator said...

Mauer's best years in terms of OPS+: 176, 144, 137, 137.

Piazza: 185, 172, 166, 155, 152, 152, 147, 140, 137.

Behind the plate, Mauer only threw out 26% this year. His CS% has gone down dramatically.

I think piazza was the best MLB catcher ever, in my opinion. Bench through out an extra 20% of runners. But I think Piazza's extra offense made up for it.

Piazza's 1997 was way better than Mauer. Piazza through out a higher percentage of runners (28-26), had a similar average to Mauer, and had much more power. He deserved the MVP that year.

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