Two for the Ages: Joe Mauer and Buddy Lewis
Butch Wynegar had the best season of any 20-year old position player in franchise history. Adding to the significance of his achievement is that he did it while playing catcher. As we turn our attention to the best seasons turned in by 22-year olds for the Twins and Senators respectively, we come across another catcher who just so happens to be the “cover boy” for MLB 11 The Show.
Joining Joe Mauer is Buddy Lewis who we last saw gracing our 20-year old edition of Two for the Ages along with … Butch Wynegar.
How good is Joe Mauer? Does anybody even ask that question any more?
2005 was his first full season in the majors. The year before he racked up 1.5 WAR in 122 PA and likely would have surpassed Tom Brunansky‘s 5.0 WAR in 1982 to claim the top spot for all 21-year olds in the team’s long and storied history. 2004 gave us all a 35 game taste of the player Mauer seemed destined to become. In 2005 he served us a full course – 131 game meal – of catching excellence. We couldn’t get enough and we wanted more.
Fortunately for us, Mauer has been dishing up 4 and 5 star entrees since his 22-year old season. As you can probably guess Mauer will be making a few more appearances in this series. Because of that I will save all the over-the-top praise and hyperbole that Joe’s career absolutely deserves.
Lewis is a prime example of why I was so excited to do the research and to subsequently write this series after I came across Jeff Parker’s article that was the inspiration behind Two for the Ages. I had almost no knowledge of the true quality of player Buddy Lewis was during his career. Heck I barely had a working knowledge of who Lewis was. To me he was just another guy that donned a Senators uniform. Despite that, here he is appearing for the second time in three installments.
This time around however it wasn’t just a 2.4 WAR season that landed Lewis on this list, but rather a 5.3 WAR season and a 132 OPS+. During 1939 he led the AL with 16 triples, drew 72 walks and struck out only 27 times.
It’s safe to say that I view Buddy Lewis’ career and his contribution to the organization in an entirely new light.