Congrats to Joe Mauer on a very successful baseball career.
But he’s not a Hall of Famer.
Compare these two players and think to yourself, is either a Hall of Famer.
Now I will be clear, these are both very good careers, with some excellent years. 1 MVP between them and plenty of MVP considered years.
BUT that doesn’t make someone a Hall of Famer.
Next question, which of these players played in the current era of increased offensive output?
The answer is the first one, the one with less homers, less RBIs and almost identical OBP, AVG and walk numbers.
The things Mauer is heralded for have been his pitch selection, batting average, and being willing to walk in every situation, and those are Hall of Fame skill for sure, but look at the comp. Better run production numbers, while maintaining that same plate discipline and high average.
So who is this mysterious comparison?
Will “The Thrill” Clark.
Oh wow, yeah Will Clark isn’t in the Hall of Fame, but HE’s NOT A CATCHER SULL!
You are correct, he is in fact not a catcher. And neither was Mauer for half of his career.
In the 1836 games Mauer played, here is the position break down:
So let’s look at how that compares to other Hall of Fame catchers. Does this just happen to catchers as a lot of people think? No.
I left judging whether or not a catcher is a catcher to the Hall of Fame website and those above are 15 of the 18 catchers in the Hall of Fame. The 3 not listed are Josh Gibson, Biz Mackey and Luis Santop. Those 3 were inducted based on their time in the Negro Leagues and there isn’t data on them because of, well, to be honest, racism.
As you can see only Buck Ewing has a lower percentage of games played at the position than Joe Mauer would. Buck Ewing was inducted in the very first class of the Hall of Fame in 1939 and is often referred to as the greatest all around player of the 19th century. He was one of the first to crouch behind the plate and when he did he had neither a chest protector, shin protectors or a sturdy mask. So let’s just say that comparing him and Mauer isn’t fair to anyone, because Buck’s career ended 107 years before Mauer’s began.
Take the rest of that list though and not only did they all catch over 70% of their careers, only Roger Bresnahan didn’t catch 1000 games. And 3 of the 4 players most contemporaneous of Mauer; Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter and Ivan Rodriguez all caught over 2000 games, and the other, Mike Piazza hit 427 homers and had a higher average than Mauer all while catching 700 more games and catching in every year of his career.
So Mauer doesn’t make the cut because you can’t count him as just a catcher, because he didn’t do that enough and he isn’t even as good a first baseman as Will Clark and Will Clary got 4.4% of the writers vote in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility so he never even got on the ballot again. (5% is required to appear again.) Are you going to tell me that Mauer was so much better than Clark that he should be in? You can’t.
And don’t talk to me about intangibles. Being a nice guy and having excellent fundamentals is great, but intangibles are supposed to lead to big wins and Mauer never won a playoff game in 10 tries. Not that he didn’t have a game winning RBI or Run, the Twins never won a playoff game in Mauer’s tenure. And off the top of my head I can’t think of a “signature moment” of Mauer’s career. And I’m sure he has one, but I’m a very dedicated baseball fan, especially of the American League, so that’s telling of something.
I’m not trying to be mean. And I think he had Hall of Fame talent, and I always enjoyed watching him play, but he didn’t produce at a Hall of Fame level in the end.
Again, it’s not supposed to be the Hall of Very Good, it’s supposed to be the Hall of the Very Best.