Joe Mauer’s Move to First Results in an Overpaid First Baseman


Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

I bought breakfast at 10 o’clock, I ate it for lunch at 12:30. This is what happens when the Minnesota Twins announce that their hometown superstar Joe Mauer is being moved from behind the plate to first base.

There’s no reason to complain though, because I like the move of Mauer to first. At least, I thought I did. That darn contract is going to get in the way again.

First, I was really quite excited about Mauer moving to first. It’s a pretty accepted fact that catchers get hurt and dinged up more than first baseman, so keeping the best hitter’s bat in the lineup is a good thing.

It’s all good and it got even better. The question was brought up who else has hit a minimum of .350, 15 home runs and 90 RBI while playing at least half their games at first base. This stat line is very Mauer like and something that he should shoot for, but it’s only been done 30 times in history at first base.

Jimmie Fox did it four times. Lou Gehrig five times. Todd Helton twice. Albert Pujols, Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Cecil Cooper and Don Mattingly did it once. A different one caught my eye:

Stan Musial did it twice.

Actually, Stan the Man’s line is the closet to a Mauer-like line. In 1946, Musial hit .365 with 105 RBI and 16 homers. Musial won the MVP award that year, after not playing in ’45 due to military service.

Comparing Mauer to Musial is insane. Musial is one of the best baseball players of all-time, sixth all-time amongst hitter according to Baseball Reference, Mauer is not on that high of level, 258 all-time.

So who that meet the requirements of .350, 15 HR and 90 RBI does Mauer best resemble over at first?

John Olerud. He met those line requirements twice, 1993 and 1998.

They are quite similar players, both fielding and hitting.

John Olerud’s 162 Game Average:

Joe Mauer’s 162 Game Average:

Joe Mauer hits for a better average while hitting for a little less power. Mauer can only expect those numbers to rise at first, but we can’t expect them to jump exponentially at the age of 30. Mauer will turn 31 in April. What we’ve seen is what we’ve seen, for the most part.

Why is this a bad thing? I mean Jon Olerud was a darn good ballplayer. Two-time All-Star, three time-Gold Glove winner.

Olerud wasn’t worth $23 million dollars, neither is Joe Mauer.

Olerud’s big contract, signed with the Toronto Blue Jays and finished as a member of the New York Mets, had two highest paid seasons of $6.5 million. That’s not $23 million today. Via an inflation calculator, $6.5 million dollars in 1996 is still only $9,700,245 today.

There’s a big difference between $9.7 million and $23 million, $13.3 million dollars to be exact.

With Mauer’s higher batting average than Olerud, his better glove and the hometown/face-of-the-franchise factor, Mauer is worth more than $9.7 million dollars. Mauer is more in the range of $13-14 million dollars. The fact of the matter is that Mauer is simply not as valuable at first as he is behind the plate for the Twins.

Bygones are bygones and there’s really nothing the Twins can do about that huge contract, but think about what the Twins could do with an extra $10 million. That extra money gets you further from a Mike Pelfrey and on the doorstep of an Ervin Santana.

Mauer needs to stay and he needs to play somewhere, but he’s being overpaid.

Well played, Mauer.