Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Mauer vs Kirby Puckett Debate: Don’t Let Emotion Get The Best Of You


You know something has made a big hoo-hah on Twitter when folks not engulfed in Twins baseball comment on it. The best part is that this all came about before 10 A.M. on a Tuesday. What a country, my friends!

The big debate on the tweet machine was the famous Kirby Puckett versus Joe Mauer debate, two of the most prominent faces in the history of the Minnesota Twins franchise and who is better, because everything obviously needs to be a competition. Have I mentioned that this is an awesome country, yet?

It simply can’t be ignored that it’s pretty tough to compare Puckett and Mauer apples to apples. Both the centerfielder and catcher are important members to the field, but the catcher obviously has more control over the action. Mauer is now over at first base, but those years at catcher can’t be forgotten.

Statistically speaking, Mauer is clearly the better player at the plate. There is no denying that and it’s pretty hard to fudge those numbers, but, as some have pointed out on Twitter, Mauer doesn’t have the narrative that Kirby Puckett did.

Puckett was the face of the franchise for two world championships. Mauer is the face of a couple division titles, a huge contract, a major downturn in the franchise and bilateral leg weakness. Puckett brought home the hardware and that clouds the judgment of some Twins fans even though the numbers don’t lie.

Mauer, if he can stay healthy, projects to be a member of the Hall of Fame. There’s reason to believe that Puckett got in the Hall of Fame because his career was cut short and was brought in for what could have been.

Debate is fun, hell, ESPN has made a living out of it, but I urge you not to be Skip Bayless. One of him is too much to muster.

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Tags: Joe Mauer Kirby Puckett Minnesota Twins

  • Chris Cunningham

    How old are you?

  • scott

    Serious?,Joe may have a better batting average and OPS but that is it. Kirby also has leadership qualities Joe does not have. Kirby made the hall based on numbers and his post season success. Joe may have been on track but the last 3 years are hurting his chances. He needs to pick up the pace if he wants to make it

  • John Curtis

    So you don’t care about intangibles like leadership, guts and charisma? Mauer has none of those things. Puckett put the team and the fans first always. He always played to win and was clutch when the team needed him. He is known to have told the team to get in his back. Mauer would sprain his vag if he tried that. Anyone who watched both play and knows a damn thing about baseball knows who the better player is. Puckett routinely won games for the team. Mauer might once a year. Puckett won playoff games and World Series games on his own. Mauer never will.

  • Marshall Garvey

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. When Mauer becomes a vocal team leader, wins ALCS MVP, fuels one or two championships, and actually produces like he should especially now that he’s at first base, then we can start this comparison. This cannot be serious.

  • Jerry Forness

    Puckett hit home runs and drove in runs in the clutch. Mauer K’s, hits into a 4-6-3 DP or takes a walk. You cannot even compare the two players dummy.

  • andy stocker

    ARe you kidding me?? Mauer’s name doesn’t deserve to be in the same breath with Puckett’s. Projects to be a member of the Hall of Fame?? Nope…not unless he has several more “2009 like” seasons. And now he is at first base, and is the weakest producing 1B hitter in the American League right now. Get real…no debate here…when Mauer is “healthy” he should be batting 9th.

  • Pete Klemans

    Sorry, Mr. Kottke, but Kirby Puckett was every bit Joe Mauer’s equal as a hitter. In fact, I challenge you to take a look at Puckett’s career numbers then try convincing any knowledgeable baseball fan that he wasn’t an absolute hitting machine. Puckett had 200 or more hits in five of his 12 seasons – during two other seasons he had 195 and 199 hits. He was also a career .318 hitter, had 880 hits during a four-year span from 1986 to 1989, averaged 38 doubles per season along with 99 RBI and was the American League hits leader four times. Those are very impressive numbers and the reason why Kirby Puckett is in the Hall of Fame … not because his career was cut short or for “what could have been”. The guy was 35 years old when he left the game so “what could have been” already was.

    Now let’s talk about Joe Mauer. To date, Mauer has NEVER had 200 hits in a season. During only one of his his 10 full seasons has Mauer totaled more than 38 doubles, let alone AVERAGE 38 doubles per season. Only once has Mauer exceeded 13 home runs in a season – Puckett had more than 13 home runs EIGHT times in his career. Puckett was also a far more dependable player than Mauer in so far as he averaged 150 games played per season compared to only 110 for Mauer. Staying healthy is an important part of being a professional athlete as I’m sure Cal Ripken would attest.

    I could go on, but I think the point has been made. Clearly, to date, Mauer’s career offensive stats fall somewhat short of what Kirby Puckett accomplished. For you to suggest otherwise is utter nonsense and shows you either lack requisite baseball knowledge and/or an unwillingness to do your homework. In either case, I believe you owe the late Kirby Puckett an apology for minimizing his many wonderful accomplishments while playing America’s game.

  • EasyThere Pilgrim

    This guy just wrote this stupid article to get people mad and to get attention. He can’t be serious. Puckett played before the era of the juiced ball, but he still hit 20-30 homers per year and drove in close to 100 every year. Tons of doubles. Numbers Mauer doesn’t even come close to. Puckett won soooo many games with clutch hits and homers. Over 2300 hits in just 12 years, and that includes 2 shortened years (his first year, and the strike-shortened season). Not to mention 2 World Series championships. Plus a .318 career average. Let me say it again, this was before the balls were juiced, so Puckett was usually on the leaderboard in doubles, RBI’s, and even homers sometimes. Always near the top in batting average. Mauer is a singles hitter who walks a lot. He’s good, but he doesn’t win games like Puckett did. Not even close.

    • cman

      “Puckett played before the era of the juiced ball,”
      BS…MLB players have been juicing since the late 60′s. Hank Aaron was the last of the great pre steroid era hitters, period. The 1994 strike, lack of salary cap and the fact that MLB refused to stand up to the player’s union for 3 decades regarding PED testing is a testament to how POWERFUL the player’s union is.
      Everything else in your post I agree with. Mauer and Puckett aren’t even in the same league.

      • EasyThere Pilgrim

        I said “juiced ball” not juiced players. Although it goes together. The mid to late 90′s, after Puckett retired, is when guys started hitting 50+ homers per year. Even 60+. Middle infielders started hitting 40 homers. Back when Puckett played, 35 homers could lead the league. So when Puckett hit 22 or 31 or whatever, it was pretty good. Nowadays it doesn’t seem like as much.

  • EasyThere Pilgrim

    In Puckett’s 10 full years, he was Top-7 in the MVP voting 7 times. That’s really all you need to know. Numbers change based on juiced balls and various other factors. But Puckett was among the Top 7 players in the game 7 times in his 10 years. He played 12 years total, with his first and last years shortened (as well as the strike year). But his first year he won Rookie of the Year. And his last year was fantastic until he got beaned. He would have probably been Top 7 that year too.

    • Don Pavelka

      In what league did Kirby win Rookie of the Year? Signed-Alvin Davis.

      • EasyThere Pilgrim

        You’re right. Puckett did not win ROY; my mistake. But those other numbers are what’s really important.